The restaurants and homes of Melbourne must have been deserted at dinner time this week because the city’s entire population was standing in a queue at the Night Noodle Markets. Sydney’s popular Night Noodle Markets have finally come to Melbourne and a cracking location right next to the Yarra in the Alexandra Gardens plus some fabulous weather only served to compound the markets’ pull.
The idea is that the Night Noodle Markets are like the sort of hawker markets you see at night time in Asia. Accordingly, the food is all Asian with the exception of Gelato Messina’s stall. This still offers plenty of variety from roti bread at Mamak to pork buns at Wonderbao and Asian fusion at Chin Chin.
The great thing about the Night Noodle Markets, in comparison to other festivals like Taste of Melbourne, is there is no entrance fee to get in and you don’t have to use any special currency to purchase food or drinks. The downside are the queues – they are horrendous. I waited about 40 minutes in a queue at the Mamak stall and that queue was short in comparison to the ones for Chin Chin and Longrain.
So my survival tips for the Night Noodle Markets are:
- Get there early. Queues were a lot shorter around 5pm and only got longer as the night went on.
- Focus on food first and then drinks (the opposite of what most people do). The queues at the bars were always pretty short.
- Wear comfy shoes. You will be walking around quite a bit and heels sinking into grass could leave you wedged.
- Bring a picnic blanket to sit on or gain yourself to the Citi VIP area where you get nice tables and chairs in a fenced off area under fairy lights. I was invited as a guest of Citi but any Citi card holders or Age subscribers are also able to access the area.
- Pick one or two stalls and order lots from them rather than trying to order one dish at each stall – you will be queuing all night.
- Don’t overlook the food truck section which is immediately on your left when you enter the noodle markets. Some of the best food of the festival is there including the Banh Mi Boys truck. The snapper ceviche (2 for $12) was light and summery with a real zing to it. The best banh mi ($10) was the juicy pork belly flavoured with lemon grass in a dense bun which added some real substance to the roll.
- Go! Despite the queues it’s great fun and a welcome addition to Melbourne’s food calendar.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Citi in the Citi VIP area where I received some complimentary food and drinks (including food from Banh Mi Boys and Rekorderlig cider from Rekorderlig). Other food and drinks were purchased personally.
Details: Night Noodle Markets, Alexandra Gardens, 1 Boathouse Drive, Melbourne. Mon – Sun Nov 18-30 2013.
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve. Entry is free and food is priced from $5 upwards.
Kids: The Night Noodle Markets are kid friendly – there were lots of little tackers running around and people with pushers.