The Age Good Food Month’s Night Noodle Markets have officially become an annual event, and Melburnians couldn’t be happier. If you haven’t been yet, or you’re just raring for your second course (or seventh, we’re all about degustations here), here’s some tips on the best dishes at the Night Noodle Market, 2015.
So how does one go about picking the highlights of a hawker-style foodie festival, filled with the delights from some of the best restaurants in Melbourne? You eat. And then you eat some more. You eat a heck of a lot of glorious, mouth-watering, innovative food. The great thing about it being street-food themed is the small portion sizes, meaning you can sample a little somethin’ somethin’ (food is sexy to me, alright!) at many of the exciting vendors.
And there are many. 57 to be exact, and that doesn’t even include the bars. While this hungry little food blogger didn’t exactly eat 57 different flavours, she definitely tried her darndest.
So what takes the cake (yes, there is cake involved), and what can you pass on waiting in line for?
Starting with the worst news first, in an open letter to Hawker Hall:
Dear Hawker Hall,
My heart breaks a little when I reminisce on the unsatisfactory sampling of your steam bun with chicken and sriracha, which was really just a mouthful of hot sauce and sticky fluffy dough. What chicken, where?
Perhaps my expectations were too high, and you’re still getting into your groove. Kong and Chin Chin have set the bar too high (being two gob-smackingly amazing restaurants), and you’re the under appreciated and overly spoilt younger sibling.
I won’t return to your stall at the Night Noodle Market, I hope you understand, but there’s only so much glorified traditional pork bun this foodie can take (did I say pork rather than chicken? Your guess is as good as mine in the absence of anything meaty).
Harsh judgement aside, I have high hopes that your Chapel Street digs will provide me with the goods. I’ll come with an open mind, and keep my expectations as restrained as possible.
Yours sincerely (albeit sadly disappointed).
Bad news aside, the queues worth lining up in would start with the wonderful Misschu. The pancake with crispy chicken and spicy mayo is my favourite savoury dish at the market. The fried chicken is tender and lightly battered, with a warm salty kick, balanced out with fresh cucumber and zingy coriander. Warning: audible groans of delight will ensue.
The Chicken and Goji Berry Dumplings with spiced black vinegar caramel from Charlie Dumpling are tangy, fruity and well worth a try for dumpling aficionados, but their Chocolate and Peanut Butter Dumplings with chilli sugar and raspberry jam are downright epic. With three in a serve, it would be a travesty to share.
Gelato Messina is a must try—if only for the wacky factor. With combinations you won’t find anywhere else, try their Gold Bullion Bar; a quirky golden-foil wrapped ice cream sandwich, featuring layers of Gulamalaka gelato, condensed milk gelato, passionfruit jelly, a nut crunch and banana bread. It may be messy(na) to eat, but seeing as you’re already getting your hands sticky, go for gold and drizzle some of their wicked chocolate sauce on top.
Kong’s hot chicken wings with gochujang and chipotle are perfect—no real surprise there. The general theme across the stalls at the Night Noodle Market this year is chicken wings BBQ style—not fried. I don’t know exactly how I feel about that, would bereft be an overstatement?
Wonderbao’s treats are both safely delicious (hello crispy crackling pork belly), and excitingly daring. If you’re after a really intriguing bite, try their Pork Floss Bao—which sits suggestively in between the savoury and dessert offering on the menu. Definitely more on the sweet side, this shredded then deep fried pork dissolves on your tongue (just like fairy floss) and sitting on a sugary bun with a sweet mayo, it’s all a bit overwhelming on the tastebuds… in the best, flossible, way.
Harajuku Gyoza are a stop worth making if you love the traditionally perfect combination of Nutella and banana, only more exciting because—gyozas, duh. The team are also rather adorable here, singing in unison and greeting every customer enthusiastically in Japanese.
But the real showstopper is at the N2 Extreme Gelato tent. Guest staring Black Star Pastry’s Strawberry Watermelon Cake, this fruity and edible Rubik’s cube will scatter your tastebuds. Light, fluffy, sweet and spot on with flavour combinations, do yourself a flavour fav, and save room for this bad boy.
So there you have it. Feast away foodies, and if this doesn’t tempt you to visit because you find crowds overwhelming? Here’s a sneaky way to beat the rush at this year’s Night Noodle Markets:
Step 1 – Arrive 10 minutes before opening.
Step 2 – Visit the most popular stalls first (e.g. Kong, Mr Miyagi, Gelato Messina—who says dessert can’t come first?).
Step 3 – Secure a great spot because you’re early.
Step 4 – Eat at all the food.
Step 5 – Take it in turns with friends to order (do foodie and boozy runs).
Step 6 – Eat more food.
The Age Good Food Month Night Noodle Markets
Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Until November 29th, 2015
Monday & Tuesday, 5pm – 9pm
Wednesday, 5pm – 10pm
Thursday & Friday, 5pm – 11pm
Saturday, 2pm – 10pm
Sunday, 2pm – 9pm
All images Copyright © Megan Osborne. Do not use without permission.