Satay skewers and bacon caramel churros: A preview of the MPK Night Market

Monterey Park's first MPK Night Market will open Friday, bringing the Taiwanese dining experience to Barnes Park. The free monthly event, organized by marketing company KCM Agency and the Monterey Park Chamber of Commerce, will include an art walk, carnival games, a wine and beer garden, the city's weekly farmers market, and live performances. But the main attraction will be the food.

Approximately 30 food vendors will offer a diverse selection of dishes, according to Benjamin Kang of KCM. The marketing team focused on one high-quality vendor for each cuisine. “There’s going to be only one pizza truck and one burger truck,” Kang added.

Photo courtesy of Aunty Merry's

Aunty Merry's signature blue banner, imprinted with “Indonesian Street Food,” will wave on Friday at Barnes Park. The family-run business is named after the lead chef, who began catering private events before participating in food bazaars like the 626 Night Market in Arcadia, Orange County, and downtown Los Angeles. 

“We think that’s good exposure and also giving people a taste of what our food is like,” said Merry's daughter Grace Fransisca, an Aunty Merry's employee. Fransisca believes the events showcase Aunty Merry’s offerings to potential catering clients.

The family tailors the Aunty Merry menu to every event, with size and demographics in mind, said Fransisca. Offerings for Friday include two kinds of satay skewers, roti paratha (Indonesian pancake) and curry chicken, and barbecued corn glazed with sweet and spicy sauce. Aunty Merry will also make summer-appropriate tropical fruit drinks like es belewah (ice cantaloupe juice) and watermelon juice.

Photo courtesy of Dia de los Puercos

The Dia de los Puercos food truck will also be dishing out food at the night market. Established earlier this year, the pork-inspired Mexican eatery has been making stops all over L.A. County. 

Chef Rick Garcia said he is participating in the MPK Night Market because of his East L.A. roots. “I was born and raised in East L.A., so Monterey Park is a neighboring city. I’m familiar with the city and the people are great,” Garcia said.

Garcia cites the King Torta kitchen, helmed by his family, as his most valuable restaurant experience. The exposure to his family’s popular Mexican restaurant is apparent in his truck’s menu items, all containing al pastor, mochomos (Chihuahua-style carnitas), tinga pork (carnitas cooked with chorizos and chipotle), or bacon.

Along with its entrees, Dia de los Puercos offers sweet and savory desserts including churritos (churros garnished with caramel and crumbled bacon) as well as the new “hog pocket,” a peanut butter and jelly-stuffed empanada rolled in churro sugar and topped with bacon pieces.

Photo courtesy of Ice Cream Lab

Those looking for just desserts at the MPK Night Market may want to stop by Ice Cream Lab. The Beverly Hills-based eatery boasts liquid nitrogen instant dessert made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients. 

Owners and childhood friends Joseph Lifschutz and Tommy Ngan began marketing in the San Gabriel Valley at the 626 Night Market earlier this month, and Lifschutz sees the MPK Night Market as another opportunity to introduce area residents to Ice Cream Lab.

“We’re a small business so we really value customer interaction,” Lifschutz said.

Friday’s event will feature two of Ice Cream Lab’s most popular flavors, Blue Velvet and Salt Link Crunch. Customers can watch the liquid nitrogen process, which ends with the creamy mixtures solidifying in cold puffs of smoke.

The MPK Night Market will take place on July 25 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. at Barnes Park, 350 S. McPherrin Ave., Monterey Park, Calif., 91754.

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