Colombian arepas, Singaporean chai tow kueh, Afghan manta and chapli kebabs, and much more are on the menu for the Queens Night Market when it kicks off in Flushing Meadows Corona Park next month.
The food festival's first Saturday will be June 19th, and will run on Saturdays through October 30th. In a change from previous years—and in a nod to the pandemic—the Queens Night Market will offer timed and ticketed entry.
Tickets will be $5 in advance (children are free and if advance tickets remain unsold, walk-up tickets will be $8). Those ticket fees will offset the vendors' participation fees, because capacity restrictions will limit how many customers vendors will see. If capacity limits are completely removed, the event will revert to being free. The food festival had been canceled last year because of the pandemic.
During the last summer season, back in 2019, there were an average of 15,000 Queens Night Market visitors per Saturday who flocked to the park for food, live performances, and merchandise vendors.
"While we’re very mindful of the gravity and tragedy of what we’re coming out of as a city, state, and nation, we hope the Queens Night Market can represent a celebratory beacon of solidarity and really just a huge, collective sigh of relief," John Wang, founder of the Queens Night Market, said in a statement. "We’re unbelievably excited to welcome everyone back and hope our visitors don’t mind underwriting vendor fees until attendance restrictions are lifted – we just don’t want to hang our vendors out to dry financially after the tough year they’ve had."
He added, "We estimate that around 75% of the vendors in our network have quit the business for good, given up on their entrepreneurial vision, or hit the pause button indefinitely. We hope to see a major bounceback in entrepreneurship as the economy recovers and hope we can continue to play a small part in lowering the barriers to entry for small businesses."
The Queens Night Market expects these other dishes to be part of the lineup: Indonesian kue pancong and ote ote, Portuguese pastéis de nata, Filipino balut, dinuguan, and lugaw, Romanian chimney cakes, Indian tandoori kebabs, Vietnamese fermented grilled pork, Burmese palatas and tea leaf salad, Cambodian fish amok, Tibetan momos, Hawaiian musubi, Taiwanese popcorn chicken, Singaporean mee pok, Persian crispy rice, Peruvian ceviche, and Malaysian “ramly” burgers and skate wings. There's also Hong Kongese soy sauce noodles and rice noodle rolls, Venezuelan cachapas, Salvadoran pupusas, Puerto Rican papas rellenos, Sudanese sambuxas and aswad, Bengali fuska, and Hungarian goulash and körözött.
All dishes will cost $5, and $6 in some cases. In a conversation with Gothamist last year, Wang explained he introduced the $5 price cap when he started the event as "my way to push back against the ever-increasing cost of living in New York City. There are all these amazing, Michelin-starred restaurants in New York City, but the proportion of New Yorkers who can take advantage of that — New York is known for its food, but some of those glorified restaurants are just unaffordable for most people here."
The Queens Night Market is also operating OUTPOST, a smaller group of vendors, at Rockefeller Center, Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., through the spring and summer.