If you haven't already heard about it, the Night Noodle Markets are currently running for Good Food Month at Birrarung Marr until 30th November. When they were introduced last year, the market was crowded and had hardly any sitting space as all of Melbourne flocked to the hawker inspired markets.
This year, it has been planned out a bit more carefully with experience under their belt. The markets are now along the river bank, near Art Play and around the corner from Federation Square. There are three areas connected via a bridge, allowing the crowd to be a bit more spread out and a bit more space to breathe.
Of course on a Friday night, it would always be busy, but at least people could laze on the hills to eat if there were no more tables or even bring a picnic blanket. That would not have been possible last year!
I love the variety of food on offer and it also allows you to be able to try many of Melbourne's old goodies as well as up-and-coming restaurants. For example, I gave Chin Chin and Red Spice Road a miss, as I have eaten at both their restaurants and know that they are excellent. Furthermore in a scene like this, places such as Kong (Chin Chin's sister restaurant) serve tiny portions. $12 for a handful of cold noodles and piece of tofu is definitely not worth it.
But this was my chance to try some names I have heard popping up on the Melbourne food scene, such as Mr Miyagi. The friendly thing about these markets is that there are so many stalls, people are not afraid to ask strangers where their food is from. The table next to us mentioned that the salmon tacos at Mr Miyagi were excellent but expensive ($10 per taco). I thought we might as well splurge on something different and supposedly delicious - and I had no regrets! The tacos were full of rice, salmon and a touch of chilli.
Meanwhile I observed many people walking past with a drink in a bag, mimicking the style in which Asia would serve drinks. Sadly it wasn't milk tea but it was a lime and palm syrup slushy. It was quite sweet but managed to fill me up as I sipped throughout the night.
The previous night was a little rainy, so it was slightly to our advantage that it was a Thursday and the lines were hardly busy. We were enticed by a ramen burger at Kokoro Ramen. I have tried one at Shizuku before, but this one almost replicated an actual burger with cheese and a beef pattie. I personally prefer the one at Shizuku, which was full of a dark, sweet Asian sauce and candied pork - not what would usually be in a burger.
I would love to go through everything I ate but there are just too many - here are some more delights in photo form!
I was also excited to try the desserts at Gelato Messina (on the Thursday) and the Brulee Cart (on the Friday). As usual, Asian desserts provide me with a dilemma by putting coconut (my hate) and mango (my love) together in one dessert.
Often, I like to try it anyway in hope that the coconut flavour is not strong. Hence I chose the Happy Taste Bud Time: lychee sponge, mango puree, coconut gelato and more. The mango puree was to die for whilst the coconut was thankfully subtle. My friend chose the Street Hawker: peanut gelato, coconut and caramel jam, lime and chocolate brownie and more. These were $9 each but at least you felt like the serving was huge and worth it.
The Brulee Cart on the other hand also charged $9 but for a much smaller creme brulee. I really enjoyed my dulce de loco flavour with a caramel flavour and popcorn on top, and it was surprisingly a good size to have after eating so many other things. Still, I think Gelato Messina was better for value.
If you plan to drop by for the last few days here are my tips:
- Get your group to spread out and stand in different lines, or as a stranger did to us, ask people in the line next to you to buy your food, which they can also do in return for you (this involves some trust!!)
- Browse the stalls first and see what you want the most
- Set yourself a budget
- Walk around after each meal because as you work it off you will digest and might end up full
Where: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Cost: Free Entry (prices range from $5-$15)
When: Until November 30
Hours: Mon-Tue 5pm-9pm, Wed 5pm-10pm, Thur-Fri 5pm-11pm, Sat 4pm-10pm, Sun 4pm-9pm