Dumplings, desserts and karaoke: Get ready for Taiwanese Night Market

The annual student-run event is back March 2, bigger and better than ever

Shaved ice, dumplings and noodles will be among the tasty treats served at the Rice Taiwanese Association’s (RTA) annual Night Market.

Students enjoyed fresh cong you bing, buns and boba at the RTA Night Market.

Students enjoyed fresh cong you bing, buns and boba at last year’s RTA Night Market.

“In Taiwan, night markets are a place where locals and tourists gather to eat delicious food, play fun activities and do a lot of shopping,” said Sid Richardson College junior Allison Chang, co-president of the RTA. “We hope to bring the excitement of the night markets to the Rice campus and share one of the best parts of Taiwanese culture.”

The event is so popular, it’s moving this year from the Duncan College commons to the Rice Memorial Grand Hall. From 5:30 to 9 p.m. March 2, students, faculty and staff are invited to try foodstuffs rarely found on campus outside of the RTA’s occasional bake sales. (You’ll want to follow RTA on Instagram to get the drop on those.)

Alongside such favorites as boba in a variety of flavors, the RTA is bringing in goodies from Taiwanese staples Kamalan Bakery and Tainan Bistro. And because the RTA is hosting its Night Market earlier than usual in the semester, cold-weather dishes will be offered for the first time.

“We have added delicious hot desserts that Taiwanese people love to eat to warm up in the winter, such as red bean soup and tangyuan,” said Duncan College senior and RTA co-president Kenneth Li. But, he noted, the expanded Night Market will feature more than just food.

“This year, in addition to the staple foods and games we usually serve, we are adopting some of the trends seen in Taiwan’s night markets,” Li said. That includes brand-new karaoke and virtual reality setups, play-to-win games and booths for student side businesses, student organizations and students selling homemade crafts.

This year's Night Market theme is a play on the popular "Subtle Asian Traits" Facebook page.

This year’s Night Market theme is a play on the popular “Subtle Asian Traits” Facebook page.

Internet enthusiasts will also note the theme of this year’s Night Market: “Subtle Taiwanese Traits.” That’s a twist on the massively popular “Subtle Asian Traits” Facebook group, which grew from a small number of Asian-Australian students to a million-follower page spawning countless spinoffs. The RTA said this year’s theme is inspired by social media’s ability to cultivate communities and create connections between cultures.

“I love that Taiwanese culture is all about experimentation and novelty, and I want Rice students to experience that,” said Will Rice College senior Ryan Lee, who’s in his fourth year of doing publicity for the RTA. The work, he said, has been “one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in college.”

“Night Market is our best showcase,” Lee said. “And I am so excited to see what other people will bring to our event to take the Night Market spirit to the next level.”

Tickets to the RTA’s 2019 Night Market are $5 before March 1 and can be purchased online; tickets are $7 at the door. Each ticket includes five food items and five game tickets. For more information, visit the RTA Facebook page.

About Katharine Shilcutt

Katharine Shilcutt is a media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.