Back bigger and better than ever before, the Night Noodle Markets will pop up along the Yarra at Birrarung Marr once more as part of The Age Good Food Month this November.
With four food trucks on hand as well as 52 stalls, the punters will be squeezed in shoulder-to-shoulder once more as the balmy evenings set in and rumbling tummies demand a good feed washed down with a few chilled beers.
We take a look at ten of the stallholders you’d be daft to miss out on:
Astrid y Gaston at Lady Carolina
In a super-exciting turn of events for Melbourne food lovers, renowned head chef Diego Muñoz of Astrid y Gaston, ranked 14th in The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2015, La Barra and Casa Moreya is heading to town in a team-up with Paul Wilson of Brunswick East’s Latin American restaurant, rum and Pisco bar Lady Carolina.
As well as hosting a sit-down dinner at Lady Carolina and a talk with Pastuso head chef Alejandro Saravia at the Immigration Museum, Muñoz will join Wilson at the Night Noodle Markets, championing Asian-Peruvian cuisines Chifa and Nikkei. It’s sure to be a major highlight for adventurous palates.
Due to open mid-November, you can get a sneaky head start checking out the South East-Asian street food fare from Chris Lucas’ soon to rule Windsor venue, Hawker Hall, at the Night Noodle Markets.
Lucas Group executive chef Benjamin Cooper and Hawker Hall head chef Damian Snell, decamping from Prahran’s Charlie Dumpling, will be dishing up their take on beef rendang as well as a chicken and Siracca bun.
Speaking of Charlie Dumpling, they’ll be on hand too with their sole mission to get sticky fingers a lickin’. Charlie’s fried chicken, done in five-spiced honey, are basically crack in protein form and they will also have pork belly buns and chicken and goji berry dumplings in black vinegar caramel, guaranteed to get you messy but blissed out. Don’t forget to leave room for their chocolate and peanut butter dessert dumplings with chilli sugar and raspberry jam. Sweet.
Who doesn’t love bao? Don’t answer that, in case we think less of you. For the yes crowd, A'Beckett Street outpost Wonderbao, in the midst of RMIT’s lucky learners, will be bringing their little bundles of steamy bunny goodness to the Night Noodle Markets too. Whether you go roast pork, friend chicken or the veggie-friendly mushroom gua bao, you’ll be feeling the love in no time.
Regularly spotted in Fitzroy, Kunal Khanna and Tyson Savanahl’s mobile dosa truck Overdosa is one of our personal faves. They boys have been heading south recently too, popping up in the Hank Marvin Markets at East St Kilda’s Alma Park. They’ll be returning to this year’s Night Noodle Markets too with a few new tricks up their sleeves thanks to a recent trip to Mumbai, including a special ‘Chindian’ dosa, mashing up Indian and Chinese flavours.
Think hokkien egg noodles infused with cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and star anise then stir fried with julienne carrots, capsicum, spring onion and tossed in a tomato and garlic chutney with heaps of soy, ginger and fresh Asian shoots. That gets dished up with a ‘Swami’ slaw of cabbage, carrot, sesame seeds, mint leaves with a mustard oil and lemon dressing plus classic coconut chutney.
Red Spice Road
You’ve got to give the people what they want, so it’s no surprise that Red Spice Road, winner of this year’s The Age Good Food Guide People's Choice award, will be doing their thing down at Birrarung Marr with their chilli caramel-glazed pork belly and Asian slaw combo as well as a penang beef curry and a prawn, chicken and sausage noodle salad. Sweet toothers will appreciate the coconut, lime and peanut praline noodles.
Mama knows best, and that’s why the Vietnamese fare form city joint Mama’s Buoi is spot on, because co-owner Bao Hoang got them from the boss woman. We can’t get enough of their salt and pepper squid and their Hanoi-style spring rolls in pork, fish or veggie options.
Rice and Dice
The Rice and Dice cart will roll into the Night Noodle Markets with their scrumptious veggie fare offering a tasty alternative to carnivorous tendencies. Their Bombay burger is a flavour sensation packed with spiced potato, coriander and green chillies with a soothing shot of mint raita, garlic chutney and raw slaw. We also love their Indian-style nachos of roast papri chips topped with curried chickpeas and a potato, beetroot and carrot slaw.
Halloween might be two weeks gone by the time the Night Noodle Markets descend on Birrarung Marr but you will be able to spot a sneaky appearance by Ghost Kitchen. Often haunting Edinburgh Gardens or Welcome To Thornbury, they’ll be doling out contemporary Taiwanese grub in the shape of spring onion pancakes, salt ‘n’ pepper popcorn chicken, gua bao and sweet potato chips.
Waffle on a Stick
Look, we’re not entirely sure where waffles fit into the Asian street food vibe, but they are bloody lovely nonetheless and sticking them on stick only adds novelty bonus points. In fairness, there is a lychee and caramel ice cream option with strawberries for good measure. Stick ‘em up, punk.
The Night Noodle Markets | Birrarung Marr, Melbourne, November 12–29
Monday–Wednesday 5pm–9pm, Thursday-Friday 5pm–11pm, Saturday 2pm–10pm, Sunday 2pm–9pm
Image credit: Night Noodle Markets