Sydney’s Night Noodle Markets have now been running for over 15 years, with Melbourne following suit in 2013.
There's no denying the popularity of the Night Noodle Markets (NNM) in both cities -- with swarms of people flocking to feast on the array of Asian cuisines in Sydney from October 8-15 and Melbourne from November 12-29. Go armed with the following tips to getting the best from the now famous night markets.
1. Get there early: Yes, the markets are open until 11pm on Friday evenings (hello, after work drinks!), but to really beat the queues and do NNM like a pro, you'll want , when the gates swing open. They're also open from midday on the weekends now, so whoever wakes early, wins.
2. Consider catching public transport: Trams lead to Flinders Street and trains to Sydney's beautiful Hyde Park. There is parking nearby, but trying to park in the city if you don't have to is like trying to eat soup with your hands.
3. Print a map: The sights, smells and sounds of this huge colourful hawker market are extremely exciting -- but it can also be a bit of sensory overload. Make sure you don't miss out on your favourite stalls by checking out a map of the area first.
4. Divide and conquer: Take a group, and give everyone a job. Send someone to the bar (there's free water there, by the way), and send your other delegates to grab snacks, while someone gets prime position with a picnic rug. Extra points if you look at the menu online first.
5. Don't mess around with cash: That's a rookie error. Use tap-and-go instead. So dangerously easy to use, such instant gratification.
"This year from October 8-25, we have an amazing line up of 50 stalls including Toko, Din Tai Fung, Mamak, Hoy Pinoy, Bao Time and more. Plus, Christina Tosi from New York's Momofuku Milk Bar (the sister bakery of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant) will be launching The Singleton Whisky & Sugar Bar," said Myffy Rigby, Sydney Good Food Month Creative Director.
Here are Rigby's insider tips for the best at the Sydney markets:
Firstly –- order the roti from Mamak. A long-standing member of the Noodles family, this Malaysian hawker stall offers classic, tissuey roti with curry sauce. The queues outside their Goulburn Street restaurant are legendary, and for good reason -- very few Malaysian restaurants in Sydney can offer the famous-and-very-addictive flatbread this light.
I’d also challenge you to try a ramen hotdog –- yes, really. Ramen Zundo is serving stir-fried ramen in a roll, topped with your choice of a crumbed prawn or chicken karaage.
That's just a few small steps from the ramen flavoured ice-cream we just read about at the Tokyo Ramen Museum (yes, that exists too).
Lastly for something completely different, I’d suggest you see -- then eat -- noodles prepared by a robot. This year Taste of Shanghai -- those purveyors of delicious handmade noodles -- are going one step further; upping their game by employing the help of a robot. Yes, really. Apparently it chops noodles faster than any pair of human hands could. We haven't seen this magic at work yet, but we're looking forward to it. You know what they say: one day it's fresh noodles, the next it's a dystopian future where robots rule the world.
"This year at the Melbourne Night Noodle Markets from November 12-29 we'll have 56 vendors –- 52 stalls and four food trucks. Of these 56 we will have Chin Chin, Din Thai Fung, Hawker Hall and even Diego Muñoz from the world’s 14th best restaurant, Astrid y Gastón serving up Peruvian Japanese delights," said Gemima Cody, Melbourne Good Food Month Creative Director.
Here are Cody's insider tips for the best at the Melbourne markets:
We're thrilled to be hosting international ice cream sensations, Big Gay Ice Cream. They'll be popping up on November 27 with My Two Mums and selling fairy bread ice cream sandwiches.
Red Spice Road will be doing their pork belly, which won this year's Good Food Guide People's Choice Award.
We also have some Peruvian-Chinese making an appearance at a stall by Paul Wilson and Diego Munoz from Peru's Astrid y Gaston -- No.14 on the World's 50 Best.
On the other sweet front, Charlie Dumpling are bringing their chocolate dumplings -- picture a battered Lindt ball! We've also got Ding Tai Fung on board, whose silk skinned dumplings have proved time and time again that they're worth the hype.
Last -- but certainly not least -- we asked Rigby why there aren't more noodles, given the market's name.
"I see your love of noodles and I raise you, but if uni taught us all one valuable lesson it’s that an 18-day noodle bender is no way to live. This is an Asian Hawker market -- we aim to promote the varying types of high quality Asian food on offer in Sydney. There are noodles available at numerous stalls, but the markets also feature everything from dumplings to dosa."