Whether you can hoover an entire plate of dumplings on any day of the week, love a good laksa, or can down the hottest vindaloo without breaking a sweat, there’ll definitely be something for you at the next food festival to roll into Melbourne. Kicking off this Sunday, the Asian Food Festival represents six weeks of multicultural celebrations, embracing Chinese, Malaysian, Thai, Indian and contemporary Asian cuisine and culture.
From September 1 to October 15, Chinatown and more than 50 participating restaurants throughout the city – such as China Red, Longrain, Dainty Sichuan, Supper Inn, Hutong Dumpling Bar and Golden Orchids – come together for the annual festivities.
There’s a packed program of themed dinners, buffet cruises on the Yarra, pop-up markets, cooking demonstrations and – for those with a competitive streak – an all-you-can-eat dumpling contest.
On Friday September 20, snack on hawker-style Asian dishes from the array of stalls at the Pop-Up Chinatown Treats market, or if you’d rather a hands-on experience, learn how the Hutong Dumpling Bar parcel up their dumplings before devouring them yourself on October 9.
This year’s festival sees the addition of the Biggest Yum, an outdoor dining event where three whole blocks of Chinatown’s Little Bourke Street will be closed down and set with tables and chairs. Spanning from Spring to Swanston Street, local traders will serve a lunch spread of popular cultural favourites with entertainment provided by roving street performers and the waitperson races – a pursuit in which diners can compete against industry professionals and rush to the finish line while balancing a tray of cups of Chinese tea without spilling a drop.
The Asian Food Festival runs from September 1 until October 15. For a full list of participating restaurants, events and booking information, visit the website.