16 Nov Melbourne Night Noodle Markets 2015, Birrarung Marr
I haven’t visited the Night Noodle Markets since its debut year. The horror queues, stifling crowds and deficiency in seating areas (even bare grass) scared me off returning. After a venue change and better prepared event organisers and food stalls, the rumours of improved crowd mangagement coaxed me back in for a mosey around this extremely popular food festival.
The Melbourne Night Noodle Markets this year featured 57 stalls, three bars, and a running time of 18 days. There was a mix of veterans like Hoy Pinoy and Wonderbao, newbies including Din Tai Fung and the newly-minted Hawker Hall and pop-ups by Black Star Pastry and Diego Munoz, chef at Astrid y Gaston in Peru.
The festival grounds at Birrarung Marr had been separated into three main sections, each a decent distance apart to help distribute the crowds and also create more space for sitting. There were also more furnished seating areas available; something that was particularly appreciated by those who don’t enjoy sitting on the ground.
My first stop was Red Spice Road and its stablemate, Burma Lane. We ordered Red Spice Road’s famous crispy five-spice pork belly with chilli caramel and Asian slaw, and Burma Lane’s spiced crispy chicken with minty yoghurt, sour chilli and balachuang. Both were tasty and indeed crispy, though the pork belly was a bit drier than it should have been.
We then paid a visit came to Black Star Pastry, a pop-up by the famous bakery in Sydney, and hosted by N2 Gelato specially for the Night Noodle Markets. The hot weather on the day did not bode well for ice cream, which started melting as soon as it reached the hands of its consumers. Black Star’s famed Strawberry Watermelon cake obviously fared much better. While I did find it refreshing, well-made and enjoyable, to be honest, I didn’t quite understand all the hype surrounding this cake.
We also sampled delicious offerings from Mantou, a brand-new venture from one of the head chefs of Wonderbao. Hopefully a successful debut here will mean we’ll see more of them at other markets in the future! A more detailed review can be found here.
My experience at the Night Noodle Markets this year was far more favourable than my initial one. With more stalls than ever, it was a necessity to visit more than once to try everything that sounded interesting. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to come back again, but seeing how much it has improved, I’m now looking forward to visiting the markets next year.
Disclaimer: I was invited to visit Red Spice Road and Burma Lane as a guest, however , opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.