Chinese, Food festivals

The Essense of Stinky Tofu

Yesterday, we went to Ottawa’s Asian Fest. This is the first time they held it at the new Landsdowne Park and it looks like it is a huge success; The turn out was quite impressive. Caution: as soon as you enter Landsdowne park, though, you will appreciate a very strong, fermented, and many say, unpleasant smell. That is the smell of Chinese Stinky Tofu, my friend. Some say that it tastes a lot better than it smells. I have tried it before and I tend to disagree; however, taste is subjective and I still see plenty of people at the festival with their hands on this distinct dish.

I immediately took a quick tour around to see what my choices were. I was surprised to see the souvlaki, gelato stalls in the midst of stinky tofu, bubble tea and lamb skewers. One of my friends did, however, appreciate these options, which branched slightly out of the definition of “Asian”, so yay for diversity! I think the most popular food choice was the lamb skewers. Despite having 5+ stalls dedicated to lamb skewers, their line ups were still the longest. I am not a lamb fan so I cannot comment too much on it. Aaron, a self-proclaimed skewer/satay expert feels that it was “alright”. I steered towards the oyster omelette and ended up trying the Singapore-Thai style one. I was quite happy with this tasty omelette with bean sprouts, little pieces of oyster and loaded with spicy fish sauce. While I was there, I quickly grabbed some curry fish balls at the Honey Town booth as there was no line up and no night market experience is complete without some curry fish balls. The fish balls were tender and had the perfect amount of spice. It was so good that Aaron finished all the balls before I could try, so of course, we had to come back for more. Feeling a little parched, I also try their HK style milk tea. Not bad for a pre-made milk tea stored in a big kettle, but I would say that the taste did change a little (more artificial) after I had it for a while. We also tried the twisted taro having previously tried the twisted potato. It was very interesting to watch the drilling and cutting which was involved in producing these little snacks while in line. It tasted just like taro chips should taste – delicious. We coated it with toppings of our choice, for which we chose sour cream and onion with cheesy cheddar. It was tricky to get the flavoured powder on the taro, so it ended up just coating the edges.

While we were there, we did sit down to enjoy some of the entertainment and although, I did not know any of the singers, I was entertained. I was especially impressed with Gary Cheng, who was apparently known for his ability to sing like a female. They tried to appeal to the non-Asian crowd by singing a lot of English songs and they also tried to keep the older crowd entertained by singing some older Chinese songs as well.

While at Landsdowne Park, we took the time to really explore the park and it was actually very beautiful, especially up near the soccer stadium. In addition, there was so much to do besides the festival. The restaurants were all full so we decided to grab a drink in the VIP lounge at the Cineplex Theatres and watched a movie instead. Overall, I was impressed with this night market. Compared to the Vancouver night markets I’ve been to, it had fewer stalls and variety in food and minimal merchandise to purchase, but it was also more spacious and less congested.

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