The email invitation was clear:
“This is a private event. Please do not post this to any mailing lists, blogs, websites, printing presses, social networks, Twitter, etc. It is critical that our activities stay under the radar… We must leave no trace of our activities.”
The directions themselves (not mailed out until the night before the event) were purposefully vague. To get to the Market you had to walk down an honest-to-goodness “passageway” — in reality a candle-lined alley covered in potholes full of what may or may not have been water. The door, nondescript, had a handmade sign taped to it, and opened onto an unlighted hallway. And only then did we emerge into the Market itself. But what exactly is the Lost Horizon Night Market? And why am I writing about it on a food blog?
The Lost Horizon Night Market is hard to define. In the open warehouse space were several rented trucks, each with its own reason for being. To name just a few: the Smash Truck asked people to bring their unwanted items in to be destroyed; the Rocking Chair Truck was full of rocking chairs, for no other purpose than to sit and rock; the Pinhole Truck set up a photo shoot in the back of the truck and spent over half an hour setting up a photograph to be taken by a pinhole camera. There was a truck that would celebrate your birthday (whether it was your actual birthday that night or not), another truck that was performing science experiments with Elmer’s glue, and another truck in which our friend was playing cello as accompaniment to a short silent movie. Everything was technically free, though donations were always accepted to compensate the people participating. In lieu of donations you could bring something to barter with — one of our friends brought a box of clementines, and we saw lots of people sharing wine and other alcohol.
Our first food-related stop was Reese’s Erotic Bakery, where they had various naughtily shaped cookies that you could decorate yourself. Above you see our friend Matt reluctantly holding my creation. I should point out that some of the cookies were gluten free, and they had various options to accomodate almost any food allergy around.
The longest line of the night was for the Noodle Truck. We waited for a long, long time before gaining access to the truck, the entire back of which had been converted into a small noodle shop. There was just enough room for ten diners, the stove, the chef, and the server. Yes, they were cooking and serving noodles to order, and everything was vegetarian. There was a menu as well; you could choose either miso broth or red curry (I chose curry), and get that broth with either udon noodles or Chinese-style noodles (I got the Chinese). The noodles came with a handful of vegetables, fake meats, and condiments. My noodles were pretty good, nice and chewy, but the curry definitely needed the shot of sriracha that I added (helpfully provided on the tables). Donny wondered what the point of it was, but I think that a noodle shop in the back of a truck is its own purpose. We were lucky to get in when we did; as we were eating we learned that they were almost out of noodles.
The Lost Horizon Night Market was an interesting experience. There was something ridiculous about a warehouse full of hipsters climbing into rented trucks, but it was also something so unique that I’m glad I went. It felt like we were participating in a real New York event, albeit one that didn’t quite live up to its full potential. Things like the Lost Horizon Night Market make me happy to live in New York.