Whether you are a flexitarian or you have given up meat, dairy and eggs for health, environmental or ethical reasons (or all of the above), The Canberra Times Night Noodle Markets aims to ensure you eat incredibly well. From sizzling South-East Asian noodle dishes to the umami kick of mee goreng, here are a few of the best vegetarian and vegan options at The Canberra Times Night Noodle Markets.
Original Korean twist potato @ Twistto
Each year, the team behind The Canberra Times Night Noodle Markets invites local restaurants and food trucks to showcase some of their signature South-east Asian dishes. The team at Twistto turn their deft hand to doling out potato spirals that have been battered and fried and finished with a Korean twist. With each crunch, you will be transported back to the streets of Japan, Singapore and Malaysia where the hot snack is sold. Our pick is the pepper delight: an entrée that is easy to eat while doing a few laps of the Parkes Place West Lawns precinct, where this year’s street-food fair will be held. Great for vegetable-adverse children.
Tempura Eggplant @ KorBQ
This dish has taste and texture and is one meat-lovers will also dig. Charred until nearly burnt and then dredged in a tempura batter and fried, the tempura eggplant at KorBQ is earthy and umami-rich, topped with mayo and sweet chilli sauce to give it a mild, floral heat. The vibe at the open-air food festival is both casual and communal: veggie eaters can curate a shared feast and work their way through the menu at KorBQ, which also has a bricks-and-mortar venue in Belconnen. The Korean Charcoal BBQ restaurant is also famed for its transcendental tempura vegetable pancake.
Mee Goreng @ Mays Malaysian
Have you even been to The Canberra Times Night Noodle Markets if you haven’t slurped down a mound of hand-cut noodles? Mee goreng is one of our favourite vegan and vegetarian dishes: it’s a Malaysian street food masterpiece. This version served at Mays Malaysian features a mound of hokkien noodles stir-fried over a high wok with eggs, sweet soy, Chinese chives and bean sprouts. Add a bit of spice and accompany it with an enlivening Aperol spritz and you will feel like you’ve taken a vegetarian vacation away from the woes of worrying what to cook.
Red vegetarian curry @ Yummy Thai Catering
Is there anything more comforting than a fragrant bowl of red vegetarian curry bobbing with tofu and a heavy punch of chilli? Adventurous eaters love the big flavours of this vegetable curry at Yummy Thai Catering, which is one of the standouts hawker-style stalls rocking the vegetarian options. This dish, which is served with a bowl of jasmine rice, also has a vegan version. Hungry for more? Order a plate of curry puffs stuffed with Asian-style curried vegetables, a popular street-food snack in South-east Asia.
Classic cinnamon mochi donut @ Demochi Donuts
Hole up next to Demochi Donuts when it’s dessert time for a sticky glazed donut, which is a compelling reason to commit to cheat day. The cult food arrives glistening under a blanket of cinnamon sugar and it is utterly satisfying, especially when dunked in a glass of black coffee. Follow the fragrant aroma of cinnamon sugar and fresh fried dough for your fix of this light and crisp treat, which has the perfect amount of mochi chew. It’s a delightful finale and this flavour is one of our absolute favourites.
Okonomiyaki tofu gua bao @ Wonderbao
Bow to the bao, one of Instagram’s most popular dishes, at Wonderbao, a temple both to tofu and the classic Taiwanese street food, which incidentally became popular worldwide when David Chang put them on the menu at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York. Even old-school carnivores will be happy with the vegetarian version of the soft pillowy folded pancake filled as it is with crispy bricks of tofu, red pickled, okonomiyaki sauce garnished with nori and shichimi. This satisfying dish would suit the most strident carnivore. Pair it with a salad and glass of wine.
Gyoza dumpings @ Raijin Noodles and Gyoza
It’s imperative that you roll up to Raijin Noodles & Gyoza to pick yourself up some vegan gyoza, steamed and served with a gyoza sauce and garnished with wombok and shallots. Spice fiends also have the option of giving the dumplings a lick of heat with chill oil. For something more substantial than this cult street food snack, try the karaage tofu, which has the concentrated flavours of mushrooms and arrives under a snowfall of coriander. We love the fire and sweetness from the roasted red peppers and the crunch of the sunflower seeds and sprouts.