Last year I had an amazing food adventure at Melbourne’s Annual Night Noodle Market.
It runs for the last three weeks of November and showcases some of Melbourne’s best Asian cuisine.
Whereas the Stir Frydays is a collection of Melbourne’s food trucks; the Night Noodle Market involves actual restaurants setting up a stall in which they serve their most popular and favourite dishes.
In the past the Night Noodle Market has been a great opportunity for me to discover new places to eat in Melbourne. I’ve often tried a few dishes at the market and then become a regular at their actual restaurant; such as with New Shanghai last year.
But the best thing about the Night Noodle Market for me is that it’s a great place to hang out with friends, sample a wide array of different cuisines and stalls and soak up the atmosphere that is the food scene in Melbourne.
It takes place in the beautiful Birrarung Marr, a short walk from Federation Square on the edge of the city. The whole place is decked out with lanterns, oriental decorations and great bars to be paired with the large amount of stalls.
There is so much to choose from at the market, you would almost have to come every night for the duration of the three weeks to be able to sample everything on the extensive menu. Even with my appetite, I only managed to try a handful of dishes.
Pork Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) from Din Tai Fung- $6 for 4
You might recognise the name. Din Tai Fung is a world renowned dumpling restaurant originating from Taiwan but with restaurants in more than 10 countries.
They opened a store in Melbourne early this year, and I fell in love with their dumplings when I visited with a friend after we went to the Catherine the Great Exhibition.
They are everything you’d want in Xiao Long Bao; full of juicy soup, delicate pastry and pork that is full of flavour.
This was by far my favourite dish of the night; and my friends seemed to concur. We all went back later on for a second serve!
Chilli Crab Bao Burger from Bao Time- $9
I loved this burger. The crunchiness of the crab, combined with the perfect amount of very spicy chilli sauce and the bao bun was a great flavour combination.
But regardless of the flavour; I’m not sure I’d recommend this place especially if you are impatient.
It took almost 20 minutes to get our food. I usually wouldn’t bother so much given that the market does get busy and you do need to be patient enough to wait. However it’s frustrating when it was clear that this stall was just not set up to properly handle its customers.
There was one steamer that was steaming baos and nothing remotely resembling an assembly line. Such inefficiency frustrates me.
Hopefully they get their act together later on in the market; because that chilli crab burger was to die for!
BBQ Pork Skewers with Banana Marinade from Hoy Pinoy- $12 for 2
I had these a couple of weeks ago at Stir Frydays but I couldn’t resist getting them again.
They are the best pork I’ve ever had, which is saying a lot given how amazing my Mum’s roast pork dinner is. The sticky banana marinade is what makes this dish though. Heaven!
4 Spice Crispy Chicken with Minty Yoghurt, Sour Chilli and Balachung from Burma Lane – $14
Burma Lane are owned by the same guys as Red Spice Road; which after Chin Chin is the hot ticket at the Night Noodle Market.
I’ve been disappointed by fried chicken lately, especially after going to South Korea which is home to some of the world’s best.
But unlike the other mediocre dishes I’ve had, this fried chicken wasn’t dry but juicy, the batter wasn’t too heavy but was full of flavour, and it was slathered in just the right amount of the perfectly balanced mint yoghurt. After the dumplings, this had to be my favourite savoury dish of the night.
Butter Chicken from Chin Chin- $12
Chin Chin is one of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants. On any given night you’ll find yourself facing a long wait to score a table at this place.
But there is only one word to describe this dish at the Night Noodle Market; disappointing.
I think they had gotten ahead of themselves and thus the dish wasn’t cooked fresh like most of the dishes at the Night Noodle Market. It clearly had been sitting there for a little while. At least long enough for the box it came in to be soggy and the whole dish to only be lukewarm.
The flavours weren’t even there either. It was an ok dish, but not what I’d expect from a reputable place like Chin Chin.
As I was eating it I just felt like I was wasting space in my appetite and that I could instead be eating something yummier; like another dish from Burma Lane or Red Spice Road.
Crème Brulee from The Brulee Cart- $9
Crème Brulee is not quintessentially Asian cuisine, but I feel like you can cheat a little when it comes to dessert. Especially given that many of the Asian desserts don’t really appeal to me.
My friend and I couldn’t pick between the classic Vanilla Bean Brulee or the Caramel Ginger Brulee with popcorn. So we decided to order both and share.
Both of them were incredibly delicious; and had that crackable coating of sugar on the top combined with the creamy custard that is reminiscent of a good brulee.
But the Caramel Ginger was outstanding, ginger and caramel is such a great flavour combination! If you can only order one I’d recommend that!
Gold Bullion Bar from Gelato Messina- $10
I have a bit of an obsession with Gelato Messina. Ever since they opened up another store on my side of the city in Richmond, their icecream has been a regular fixture in my weekends. I’m not even ashamed to say that in the past week I’ve been three times!
I love what they are offering at the Night Noodle Market. Gelato Messina isn’t Melbourne’s best icecream for nothing; not only is their icecream base delicious but their creativeness shines through in all of their flavours. At the market they are offering unique dishes that clearly have an Asian spin to them.
I went with the Gold Bullion Bar. It is basically an ice cream sandwich made up of layers of gulamalaka (salted palm sugar) gelato, condensed milk gelato, passion fruit jelly sandwiched between a nut crunch and banana bread coating.
I almost didn’t order this, as I was struggling to fit anymore in at this point. But there is always room for icecream! No regrets at all; this was super delicious!
I shouldn’t have expected anything different from Messina!
Look Out for Updates!
If I manage to get to the Night Noodle Market again I’ll try and get some different dishes and update this post with them. But knowing what I’m like I’ll probably just go back for the same things. I can’t deny that those dumplings will definitely be on that list!