The banks of the Yarra have again transformed into a hectic hawker market with Asian street-food vendors sizzling, frying, grilling and steaming from makeshift kitchens.
Now in its sixth year, the Night Noodle Markets are a platform for the spicy, sour, sweet and smoky flavours from China, India, Thailand, Vietnam and beyond. Alongside long-term residents Hoy Pinoy, Gelato Messina, Mr. Miyagi and Wonderbao, this year you’ll find newcomers Bao Brothers, Son in Law, Red Spice Road, Prahran institution David’s, and Oriental Tea House. And Broadsheet trawled all of their stalls to find the tastiest dishes on offer.
First up, Son in Law’s spicy deep-fried chicken ribs, (generously) dusted with a zesty house-made seasoning. Lighter but no less delicious are Miso Fresh’s soba noodles with edamame, pickled cabbage, seaweed salad and soy sesame sauce.
Bao Brother is serving up three fluffy steamed buns; one filled with pork belly, one with fried chicken and one with tofu. The three-piece dish is equal parts soft and crunchy, and great for sharing. You might fight over the pork belly, though.
Another chicken highlight is Poklol x Puffle’s KFC Cheese Puffle – Korean fried chicken stuffed inside a cone-shaped cheese waffle, drizzled with mayo and shallots.
A theatrical (and equally tasty) standout is the Way of Dragon pork-belly noodle dish from Flying Noodle. Honey soy glazed noodles are stacked high and speared with chopsticks, a “flying” fork floating above.
On the sweeter side of things, Gelato Messina’s menu is stellar. Last year the gelateria did a Japanese game-show theme. This year, the menu is inspired by the taste and smells of the Philippines. The stand is themed like a Jeepney, the colourful Filipino public transportation.
The Thrilla from Manilla is a dessert influenced by Turon, a snack usually made from thinly sliced bananas and jackfruit, dusted with brown sugar, rolled in a spring-roll wrapper and deep-fried. Messina’s version is creamy brown sugar and banana gelato wrapped in banana bread and filo pastry. It’s deep-fried then topped with custard and a chocolate peanut-butter crumb.
“Ever since we debuted our deep-fried ice-cream ball a few years ago, it was an instant hit,” Gelato Messina head chef Donato Toce says. “So we’ve had a deep-fried addition on our Night Noodle Markets menu ever since.”
Other menu items include a traditional Brazo de Mercedes (jelly roll-type dessert made with a meringue outer layer around a rich custard filling), a pimped up Halo Halo (layered dessert of sweetened beans, fruit, shaved ice, evaporated milk and ice cream), and a peach and mango tribute to the fast-food stalwart Jollibee.
The Night Noodle Markets are on from November 8 to 25 at Birrarung Marr.
Mon & Tue 5pm–9pm
Wed & Thu 5pm–10pm