On a rainy night, I went to Night Market, an Asian-inspired tapas restaurant hidden within Harvard Square. The hipster vibe exudes from the colorful graffiti murals and vintage posters. Even the friendly servers seem hip, as well as knowing the menu inside out.
Executive Chef Jason Tom’s take on Asian street food runs an eclectic menu. The portions are on the smaller side for tapas. If you want to try everything, diners can opt for the “Take a Hike” option for the table at $32 a person. “Hikers” enjoy a six-course exploration of the menu. The three of us wound up doing our own menu exploration.
The Tea-Smoked Duck Breast Crostini ($3) was subtly flavored, thanks to the charred orange hoisin sauce. Its two slices of house-smoked duck were served cold.
Next came the popular Daikon Fries ($7), thickly cut and served in a bucket along with a black bean/garlic aioli and tomato ginger ketchup for dipping. Who knew daikon radish could taste so delicious when deep fried?
We got two styles of Fried Chicken Wings ($9 each): the Tebasaki of sweet garlic ginger soy and the Vindaloo with vinegar, curry chili and spices. Each order had six pieces of wings and drumettes. Both were fried to perfection, but the Tebasaki won me over with the umami hints of soy, ginger and garlic. I feared the Vindaloo would be too spicy, but it was not.
The seasonal vegetable was Brussels Sprouts ($6), which were sautéed and served with Chinese sausage for a tasty pairing.
We got the Meat Platter ($13) with four different skewers.
A skewer of three tiny Xinjiang meatballs — made with lamb, coriander, chili and garlic — was on point. The Sukiyaki Western skewer consisted of caramelized onion soubise (creamy onion sauce over skirt steak). Chicken Yakitori seemed simple in comparison but was not dry. Finally, the Imperial Pork served as my favorite for bold flavor, packing lemongrass, soy, caramel, garlic, shallots, Korean chili flakes and fish sauce.
By this time, we were getting full. The two bigger items of the night came out: the Dan Dan Noodles ($14) and Shaky Shaky Beef ($15). Though the menu describes the noodles dish’s spicy pork ragout, Sichuan broth and egg noodles, I did not find it spicy at all.
The Shaky Shaky Beef reminded me of my favorite Loc Lac Beef. It was a bit salty for my friend, but for me, it was great. The fish sauce and citrus soy marinade combined for an irresistible sauce you had to eat with rice. The fresh watercress was delicious, but I wish the pieces were not as long, as it was distracting.
Though we were full, we sampled the only dessert item, Sweet Toast ($6). This is a beloved Malaysian/Singaporean snack with coconut custard slathered between two pieces of toasted bread, served with a poached egg and Maggi sauce. More savory than sweet, the creamy egg yolk coupled with the salty Maggi sauce and sweetness from the coconut custard complemented each other.
This dining experience is more hip and expensive than the average night market meal in Asia, but you save on airfare. The wait staff was attentive and food came out at a good pace. Overall, Night Market makes for a fun night out.
75 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-5927
This post is also available in: Chinese