Food and Drink


Night Noodle Markets At Birrarung Marr

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Melbourne’s most prominent Asian restaurants have set up camp at Birrurang Marr for an epic Battle Royale of sorts, preparing signature dishes to bring out the inner fanatical foodie in all of us as part of The Age’s Good Food Month over 17 nights.

Kicking off from November 13, and nestled by the captivating Melbourne skyline, the Night Noodle Market cements its place among the giants (the Queen Victoria Night Market and the Spanish Festa), completing the triumvirate of must-haves on the food calendar.

Abuzz with vibrant and exotic flavours of the East, many of us will be equipped with mentally thought-out hashtags and the ‘right’ filter, preparing to Instagram as many snaps as socially acceptable while navigating the three tiered marketplace.

If that scenario leaves you with a bad taste, reuniting yourself with your favourite Asian dish, or discovering your next food obsession (for me, it was MFC- Miyagi Fried Chicken) may fix it. Or if it does not, it certainly is a step in the right direction.

Promising to be “bigger and brighter than ever”, the Mecca of Asian delights was a runaway success in 2013, with over 203,000 people stomping their feet on red spiced roads, or more accurately, waiting in lines to chow down on Wonderbao.

Packing enough spice to guarantee your return, this year’s new and improved Noodle Market aims to reduce those dizzying queues as the organisers returned to the drawing board and designed a more accessible, crowd-friendly, and spacious arena for hungry spectators to dance, drink, and most importantly, feast.

The Noodle Market has something for everyone, and if the organised chaos overwhelms you, here are three major categories you may fit into. Or not.

The Vegetarian:
Do not fear: your plate will not be empty as there are plenty of options for those hoping to sustain their plant-based diet. Chin Chin, known as the powerhouse of Asian cuisine in certain circles, may be the oasis you are searching for. Although known for their meat-loaded menus, the Little Flinders gem offers a truly delicious tofu slider accompanied with sriracha, kewpie, and cabbage slaw. After downing one slider, I had to remind myself there would be more. And there was. A vegan coconut and pumpkin curry from Bang Pop was the perfect complement. Garnished with coriander, all my Indian cravings were catered to*.

*With a strong sub-continental presence this year, Overdosa and Auto richshaw were two honourable mentions.

The Dumpling Annihilator:
Dumplings, dumplings, dumplings. It is borderline lunacy to give them a miss at the Noodle Market if you are hoping to enjoy an authentic experience. From scrumptious pork dumplings from New Shanghai, or those with a hint of black bean, chilli and lime from Charlie Dumpling, or handmade classic Japanese gyoza, it is highly recommended to go with a bunch of friends and wage chopstick wars for that last remaining dumpling.

The Japanese Enthusiast:
Izakaya Den makes its presence known with a mouth-watering selection. Unsurprisingly, faithful and loyal customers will torpedo their way there while newcomers to the scene will be enticed by Den Fried Chicken. An honourable mention goes to nakoachi, a dish comprising of tuna and salmon tartare, salted cucumber, sesame, and ginger, served on a bed of rice.

It is easy to see why the Noodle Market is a permanent fixture for many. It may be difficult to settle on a favourite, but each stall has something unique to offer. Washing down these flavoursome meals with a Tachters cider, is the perfect way to celebrate the upcoming summer season.

Night Noodle Markets
Birrarung Marr, Melbourne
Friday November 14 – Sunday November 30

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