Life has been crazyy! So October (aka Good Food Month) started and it barely registered on my radar until I started hearing and reading stuff about the Night Noodle Markets. Somehow I managed to get my act together and make it out to the first night of the markets, which looked a little something like this around 6pm.
It was crazy-town and after a quick scout of all the stalls it seemed like there were barely any without queues. I did notice that there are more food stalls than last year which is always a good sign. There are also more seating areas and bars scattered around Hyde Park – but don’t let that trick you into thinking that it’s easy to find a seat!
After our recon mission, I’d picked out a handful of stalls that I was keen on getting food from. Hoy Pinoy drew me in with the billowing smoke and smell of grilled meat.
This Melbourne-based Filipino BBQ food stall had huge skewers of chicken and pork belly cooking away on several grills, all the while being basted with sauce.
The smell of smokey meat from Hoy Pinoy was incredible, but so was the queue which snaked at least 50 metres down from the front of the stall! But the wait is worth it for the tender chicken with soy, vinegar and garlic, and pork belly basted with banana ketchup – both of which are infused with the smoke. You get 2 big skewers of meat for $10, or you can add an extra $3 to get it with a side of rice and pickles
There were also the usual suspects – Chat Thai, Mamak, Din Tai Fung, Jackie M and Chinese restaurants like East Ocean and Zilver hawking their dim sum. The Mamak stall had two guys twirling roti at the storefront, and was also a hugely popular choice with the queue as long as their actual store on Goulburn St.
I was really excited to see Wonderbao make an appearance at this year’s Night Noodle Markets, seeing as they are a Melbourne based stall. I didn’t get a chance to try it out on my last trip to Melbourne so we made sure to try out their baos!
There were two types of bao on offer – traditional baos ($5 each) or gua baos ($7 each). There was also a special where you could get 3 gua baos for $20 which was perfect for trying all three flavours – braised pork belly, twice cooked pork belly and fried silky tofu.
We opted for the two pork gua baos and a custard nai wong traditional bao. The twice cooked pork belly bao had pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber and hoisin sauce, but my favourite of the two was the braised pork belly with the tender pork, melty bits of pork fat, pickled mustard, coriander and crushed peanuts. The traditional nai wong bao is filled with a golden custard inside a fluffy white bun.
Our sweet tooths weren’t quite satisfied with just one nai wong bao, so we went to the Gelato Messina stall for a sugar hit. Messina has four Pot Luck Pies on offer at the Night Noodle Markets, all for $9 each. The Street Hawker pie has a lime and chocolate brownie base, topped with peanut gelato, coconut and caramel jam, fortune cookie clusters and a peanut cookie. I loved the gelato and fortune cookie chunks on this, but I wasn’t a fan of the lime and chocolate brownie base as it goes really hard underneath the cold gelato and is difficult to eat.
The Phuc Khing Tasty cinnamon bun base was much better, soaking up some of the melted coffee gelato and becoming soft. The coffee gelato was very intense, and the condensed milk pannacotta was interesting. It tasted very much like condensed milk but I’m not sure I was convinced by the texture which was a bit like a sticky, pasty jelly, and not quite as wobbly as a pannacotta. The walnut crunch and asian spiced cookie provided some nice crunchy texture against the soft bun and pannacotta.
The crowds at the Night Noodle Markets get pretty insane so I definitely recommend going early if you can. The Night Noodle Markets are on in Hyde Park from 10th to 26th October every weeknight from 5pm and on weekends from 4pm. For maps and menus check out the Good Food Month website.