High-speed rail was an unlikely catalyst for a new event designed to lift up Asian food and culture in Fresno’s Chinatown – the 559 Night Market.
Within a year, the monthly event has expanded throughout Kern Street. With the leadership of Fresno Street Eats and Morgan Doizaki, of Central Fish C0., local food and craft vendors are able to partake in the 559’s new mix of food, music, shopping, and K-pop.
The market came to fruition because of the high-speed rail construction blocking the front of Central Fish, making access difficult.
“It made the front of my store like a cul de sac,” said Morgan Doizaki of Central Fish C0.
“A lot of people were skeptical,” Doizaki said about the beginnings of the 559 Night Market. “How are your vendors supposed to have confidence? But after the first one, we didn’t have trouble curating it at all—now they’re coming to us. It’s been cool.”
This year, 10 different community K-Pop groups performed and collaborated on a final performance. “It’s giving them a platform to showcase their talent, and they’re very enthusiastic and have lots of energy,” Doizaki said.
Starry Droplets sells printed stickers illustrated by Sandy Khin. The shop has been with the 559 Night Market since the launch. “It felt like maybe a very small step to bringing life back to Chinatown,” Jeff Barron of Starry Droplets said. “We definitely had a very humble beginning, and it’s definitely expanded now.”
“It’s pretty diverse and inclusive,” Khin said of the community attending the 559 Night Market.
“It’s pretty welcoming. It doesn’t feel exclusive. It feels like when you shop, you’re definitely supporting a local business,” Barron said.
Leoz Lobster serves lobster, shrimp, and crab rolls, along with nachos, sweet tea, and kool-aid. Robin Garret—owner of Leoz Lobster— said they’ve been with the 559 Night Market since the end of last year. Employees of Leoz Lobster described the community of the 559 Night Market as “A nine out of 10. They have great vibes.”
Onserf Distribution has been with the 559 Night Market since they began last year. Their setup is on Kern Street, right in front of their store.
Doug Seibert runs Onserf Distribution which provides graphic design, screen printing, and logo designs to the Fresno, California area.
“Friendly, challenging, and very unique” is how Chris of Onserf Distribution described the community of Chinatown.
“Anything that we can make, we can roll,” Vorn Sok of Vornitas on a Roll said. Sok said she was inspired by an event similar to the 559 Night Market when she started Vornitas on a Roll in 2019. She created her own business to recreate her mother’s pork and chicken egg roll recipe.
This is Sok’s first year with the 559 Night Market. “They’re flexible; they try to give you the best opportunity,” Sok said of her experience with Fresno Street Eats. “They are really good to work with.”
“[The 559 Night Market] is very inclusive. It’s very kid friendly. We want all of Fresno or the greater Fresno area to realize that this is in Chinatown—it’s a little neglected—it’s an opportunity to become a strength to do something in Chinatown,” Doizaki said.
He said the 559 Night Market is attracting more and more people from Fresno. “It’s bringing a lot of much-needed attention to Chinatown.”
The 559 Night Market is held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the last Friday of each month, from April through October.
Von Garcia Balanon is a freelance photojournalist and graphic designer based in Fresno.