The Night Noodle Markets will return to Melbourne in 2018. This article was originally published in August 2017.
Imagine one of those giant Singaporean hawker halls. Those bustling ones infused with the scent of busy woks preparing a myriad of dishes from just as many cuisines. Now, imagine it all outdoors and instead of the searing heat of South East Asia, the cool air of riverside Melbourne. Add to that a mix of Melbourne’s most exciting vendors and you’ll have painted the experience of the Night Noodle Markets. Just like any good hawker market though, choice can be debilitating. Here are our picks for four distinct must-try experiences.
The hip Japanese wizards of Windsor are known for two things, a general irreverence for anything old fashioned, and terrific sort-of-Japanese food. This year they’ll bring both to the markets with a line-up of sushi-inspired, nori-infused taco shells stuffed with Peking duck or soft shell crab and sushi rice with hot sauce and sour cream. Don’t miss their sushi rice fries, either. Last year they sold more than 20,000, so be prepared to get there early.
Photo credit: My Miyagi Melbourne
Just like the Noodle Markets, Bambu is inspired by the flavours, sights and scenes from South East Asia’s hawker stalls. However, this isn’t the kind of traditional, generational cooking you’d expect from a Thai, Malaysian or Vietnamese auntie running a street-side stall. Bambu mixes the flavours and style of South East Asian street food with modern technique and ideas. Try martabak (a Malay meat and egg stuffed roti parcel) inspired nachos doused with pickled chillies and melted cheese, chimichurri-soy beef skewers and what they call a dessert boat – a toss of coconut caramel, vanilla gelato, crushed meringue and hunks of mochi.
Photo credit: Bambu
Crisp, fresh, zesty and light – all the things we usually associate with Vietnamese cuisine. There is another side though, a greasier, fattier and drink-friendly side that dolls out fried chicken, grilled meats, and many a well-oiled wok-tossed noodle dish. This is a side Hochi Mama know well. The beer, cocktail and hip-hop friendly restaurant are experts in combining the two parts of the cuisine. This year’s creations include grilled pork and slaw brioche sliders, Viet-style fried chicken and pho-inspired pad Thai.
Photo credit: Hochi Mama
Is there anything in the world more basically satisfying than a mixed rice dish? Almost every cuisine has one – Malaysia has the nasi lemak, Pakistan has biryani and Thailand has khao yum. Undoubtedly the most popular option in Australia right now is Korea’s version, bibimbap. The mix of rice, seasonal vegetables, fermented chilli sauce, egg and diced meat seems to be popping up everywhere. One of the best comes from the Bibimbap food truck, a Courtney Kim creation with a mission to provide healthy Korean food to the masses. At the Night Noodle Markets she’s doing what the truck does best, a simple mix of rice, kimchi, seasonal veg and your choice of sauce and meat. Try beef and chilli for the original recipe.
Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets are running from November 9 to 26 at Birrarung Marr.
Photo credit: Bibimbap
Words by Nicholas Jordan