Hearing about the Night Noodle Markets in Melbourne this year, I was really excited. Apparently they were held last year too, but for some reason I was completely unaware of it. I was also really glad that it was set up at Birrarung Marr, just a five-minute walk from Federation Square.
Jio-ing Ms EL to join me on this noodle adventure, we visited the markets on one of the last few days, and thought that perhaps there wouldn’t be many people, but how wrong we were!
Here is the list of stalls that were there. Am I the only one who is uncomfortable with the names allocated to the different areas of the park? I mean, there isn’t an ounce of Asianness in those names. Do you see sections of Queen Victoria Market labelled as Wallaby Corner or Kangaroo Lane?
Before going, I looked up the map of the place to check out the food that was available, and I must say, that I was somewhat encouraged by the way the stalls were classified – Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese etc., instead of the usual “Asian-style” (which means what exactly? Asian food is so diverse!), which even many good restaurants have on their menu.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a hint of authentic chilli crab flavour in this dish. The sauce seemed to be made mostly out of sweet chilli sauce, and the soft shell crab was nothing to shout about.
Thankfully, the chendol I had after the disappointing crab was rather good. For $5 it wasn’t a bargain, but I don’t think it is too expensive either.
These “donuts” were perhaps the best tasting dish of the day, after the chendol. Chilli caramel pork encased in fluffy bao goodness with a plum-ish glaze. They were also the most reasonably priced, at $2.50 per donut.
Then we had the Beef roti roll (on the right), and the veg pan roll from Lankan Tucker. However, both rolls failed to impress, and the flavours weren’t anything special.
Here is the letdown of the day. Lao taco #1. I’ve never tried Lao food before, and so was really keen on trying something from this stall. Ms. EL told me that it wouldn’t be great but I insisted on having something, saying that I’d regret it if I didn’t. I now regret that I bought the taco.
If the cooks had really added some spice into the beef it certainly didn’t come through, and I wish some of the coriander was replaced with the chilli as the menu states. To call that motley salad “lao slaw” certainly deserves this year’s Overstatement Award. It was nothing more than raw cabbage, tomato and red onion. That this dish is called Lao taco is the biggest insult to Lao cuisine. I won’t even get started with the corn roti.Overall, most of the food I tried at the Night Noodle Markets was majorly disappointing, especially the chilli crab, which was an absolute embarrassment to real chilli crab.
If you’re into overpriced and inauthentic Asian food, head to the Night Noodle Markets before they close on the 30th of November. If not, just continue on with your plans for the weekend as if the markets didn’t exist, and enjoy better Asian food elsewhere.