Whether you’re a regular visitor to the iconic South Melbourne Market or simply go on occasion to stock up on artisanal products and seasonal produce, there’s always something new (or old) to taste, discover and take home.
Here are a few must-visit stalls to check out in the coming months, now that we’re making up for lost time post-lockdown.
Mama Tran Dumpling
Stall 35, Deli Aisle
Mama Tran serves more than 20 varieties of handmade Chinese dumplings. On the menu you’ll find shumai and prawn dumplings, sweet and salty BBQ pork buns, steamed and fried dim sims, and sesame prawn toast. Run by Tran (the eponymous Mama Tran) and her husband Dieu Ky, the pair started Mama Tran Dumpling back in the early ‘80s. The market is their second home, and their son Andy Ky and his wife Em will soon take over the long-standing institution. Find the stall for a mid-shop snack, or grab some of their take-home packs to steam or fry up at home.
Stall 67, Aisle B
Michael Samarasinghe has been selling these beautiful little miniature gardens at the market since 2015. He offers leafy plant, cacti or succulent terrariums, along with hanging kokedama plants. All require some level of maintenance such as pruning, watering and sunlight – but then that’s part of the fun, and there are plenty of different sizes to choose from, starting at $50. You can even BYO a vessel or have Samarasinghe make you something to suit. Very neat.
Stall 79, Aisle B
Diana Chen designs, cuts and crafts Freckly Ollie’s clothing in her studio in regional Victoria, producing pieces for children aged between three months and seven years old. Each piece is made in limited runs from natural linen, vintage cotton and surplus fabric – think rompers and bloomers in tones of brick, sandstone stripes and blossoms. Freckly Ollie also stocks a curated collection of Australian labels with the same ethos, making it a one-stop shop for sustainable outfits, toys, shoes, bath and feeding accessories, and interior pieces.
Stall 45, Coventry Street
La Central is a delicatessen and bodega in one, much like you’d find in the Spanish markets of Barcelona and Madrid. Chatting with owner Alberto Andres in store, you’ll learn all about the story behind the food and wine it sells while you pick up olives, anchovies, cheeses, jamon iberico and Serrano dry-cured hams. There are also fresh burnt Basque cheesecakes from local maker Senor Simon, and croquetas from La Croqueteria. Menu wise, there are warm pastry empanadillas and bocadillos bread rolls with a selection of fillings such as thinly sliced jamon serrano and traditional manchego cheese. Stay a while for a tipple matched to traditional tapas and platters of cured meat, cheese and other accompaniments.
Luna & Soul
Stall 155, So:me Space
What you wear shouldn’t come at a cost to the environment. Luna & Soul founder Raja Soltani-Parker is a yoga teacher who believes you can look good and move just as well in sustainable and ethical fashion. So much so she started her chic yogi warrior brand after a 10-year stint working as a fast-fashion product developer in London. Using only natural fibres such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton and toxin-free plant dyes, Luna & Soul makes yoga pants, bras, jumpsuits, tanks and jumpers for women. The stall also stocks all you need for a zen and mindful yoga room or practice, such as palo santo, crystals, yoga mats, rollers and props.
This story is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with South Melbourne Market.