You don’t have to fly to Southeast Asia to sample fiery-hot papaya salad, fried chicken feet, flame-grilled squid-on-a-stick, and other street food delicacies. The Little Mekong Night Market has all that and then some. Founded in 2014 by St. Paul’s Asian Economic Development Association, it has quickly become a Frogtown tradition, packing 87 vendors and thousands of fairgoers into the streets surrounding University Avenue West.
For the record, our top three dishes from this summer’s festivities were the khao poon at Soul Lao, a spicy rice vermicelli soup served with chicken or tilapia; the moriawase bowl from Donburi-MN (rice topped with salmon and tuna sashimi, boiled eel, panko-crusted shrimp, and Japanese-style fried chicken); and Coco Cream MN’s signature special, pictured below. The colorful dessert is served in a coconut shell with a creamy scoop of taro ice cream plus mango, jackfruit, basil seeds, tapioca-coated water chestnuts, jellies, peanuts, and a delicate macaron.
Other crowdpleasers drawing mega lines included French pastries from Marc Heu Pâtisserie Paris, sashimi burritos at Ninja Sushi, cotton candy poufs from Spinning Wylde, and go-bags of sparkling lychee lemonade with butterfly pea tea from Indigo Street Drinks.
Didn’t make it to this year’s market? Look for a limited number of Little Mekong Night Market stands popping up at Keg and Case in St. Paul every Saturday and Sunday through August 24-25, 2019. Saturday hours are 5 p.m. to midnight; Sundays are 3 to 10 p.m.
The Little Mekong crew will also make an appearance at Chroma Zone, Minnesota’s first public mural arts festival, in September. Follow @chromazonefest for details on that; it’s a must-see for anyone who loves street art as much as they love street food.
Little Mekong Night Market
422 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN; 651-222-7798.