It was that time of the year where more than 200 000 hungry foodies check out the annual Night Noodle Markets. In 2013, Night Noodle Markets (NNM) ran from 9th October to 26th October on weeknights and also Saturday nights for the first time ever. Sadly at the time of posting, it was already over for another year but hey you gotta cherish the memories. One of the memorable aspects this year that was popping up everywhere on social media has been the many lanterns hanging about near the entrance close to St James Station. It actually feels like the bright and pretty lanterns are stealing the spotlight from the food. Almost.
Although the Night Noodle Markets is actually only 5 mins from my workplace, none of my colleagues were keen at all about checking it out this year. As crazy as it sounds, it is also believable that some may avoid it. This includes the crazy lines for many stalls, prices (e.g. "I can eat that same dish for cheaper in my local area!") and of course the limited seating. Some of the most notorious queues I've sighted were for Mamak (nothing new lol) and surprisingly, On Ramen's Ramen Burger. Despite the queues, the hawker-style atmosphere and entertainment made up for it and kept us relatively calm as our food is getting prepared.
Passionfruit Rekorderlig Cider - can never ever get sick of it!
Even spotted a celebrity or two including Gary from Masterchef.
Colour-changing lighting on the trees...kinda like a mini-Vivid Sydney
What's a Night Noodle Market without Dragon dancers? Spotted a few of them parading around the festival with loud banging instruments in the background.
But what about the food?! Hold your horses it's coming right now! With about 40 stalls at NNM this year, there is so much to choose from especially if you can only attend this event only once this year with cuiines ranging from Thai to Chinese to Vietnamese.
First is the now infamous ramen burger that has garnered some notoriety overseas when we first heard about it. For NNM, a little known ramen shop, On Ramen, decided to create their ramen burger for the hungry masses. The moment that the media heard about the 'First ramen burger in Sydney at NNM was when the crowds flocked to this stand, eager to check out the hype. It was better to go there earlier because the food preparation takes a very long time not to mention the growing queues as the night went on. I waited about 20 mins when I ordered it at 5:30pm on a Saturday while my friends, who arrived late, had to wait for more than an hour for their burgers at about 6:30pm.
Ramen Burger by On Ramen
Was it worth the hype and the queues? It wasn't bad but it wasn't that amazing either. As you can see, the crispy noodles were battered and fried and then a meat patty was stuck between the battered noodles. Eventually, the noodles were falling apart so I had to rely on the toothpicks to keep it together. It was also too oily but the salad and the watermelon on the side helped in balancing those flavours. While I don't mind trying it again as I did enjoy the crispy noodles and the juicy meat, I wouldn't be keen to wait more than 60 minutes for this.
On my first few attendances, I've noticed that the price of the rolls at Poklol were about $7 however when I decided to order it on the first Saturday of NNM, the prices have already increased to $10! Despite that, the meat cuts (marinated pork belly in this case zomg...) were decent in terms of quality. While the bread was tougher in texture, I really enjoyed biting into the fillings for this pork roll. Plus the kimchi slaw gave the traditional pork roll an exciting kick in your taste buds with a bit of Korean fusion. Still can't stop thinking about the Cabra pork rolls but for a pork roll shop in the city, it's not bad actually.
Pork Belly Roll with Kim chi Slaw by Poklol
I've been disappointed by various restaurants serving banh xeo (Vietnamese pancakes) in the past mainly because it was way too oily for my liking. Also, mum's version is generally the best. However, this version by Rolls Vietnam (containing pork and prawn in pancake batter made from tumeric, crispy rice flour and coconut milk) was actually much lighter and not as oily. The batter wasn't too crunchy though still quite crispy to enjoy with fresh greens, mint and lettuce wrapped around it
Banh Xeo by Rolls Vietnam
By the way, just a side note: was it me or were there heaps of Vietnamese food stalls at NNM this year? Anyway there was Bar Pho, a Vietnamese street food stall, which was unfortunately not getting a crowd (thanks to being next door to the Mamak stall). Due to the limited seating, it is actually harder trying to eat a bowl of hot beef noodle soup on the grass. Thankfully it was earlier on so I grabbed a nearby available table. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this pho. Sure it's not the best compared to the Cabra/Canley/Bankstown/Marrickville/Flemington ones but the essential flavours, ingredients and textures were there especially the fragrant broth, the silky slippery noodles and the tender beef. R tried the pork roll at this branch and gave it the thumbs up even though there was no queues compared to other stalls.
I saw this stall again when Chinatown was doing their own street food festival a week ago and there was a much bigger crowd of people waiting in front of it so I reckon the less queues at NNM was because of Mamak next door.
Beef Pho by Bar Pho
It may not look like much but peking duck pancakes were tasty to have for a snack in-between larger dishes. They were popping up throughout the markets but the version below were from The Eight Modern Chinese Restaurant in Haymarket. Loved the crispy duck skin and the accompanied greens. I particularly liked the thin floury pancake that made me want for more after I finish my share.
Peking Duck Pancake by The Eight
I have already mentioned in previous posts on how amazing the pork buns from Ippudo Sydney really were (yes they were there too!). It was no surprise how much CC loved them when she finally got to try them for the first time. Especially the juicy pork belly and the slightly spicy secret sauce.
Ippudo Pork Bun by Ippudo Sydney
One type of food that I've been having many times throughout NNM were dumplings. So addicted to them! There were delicious dumplings as well as a few disappointing ones.
The pan fried pork and chive dumplings from the Taste of Shanghai/Shanghai Stories 1938 team were crispy to my liking but also too doughy and thicker than I expected. Was surprised about the crispy prawn crackers on the side but they were quite tasty.
Pan-seared Pork and Chive Dumplings by Taste of Shanghai/Shanghai Stories 1938
Was more satisfied with New Shanghai's dumpling offerings. The pan fried pork buns were not too thick and doughy and they had that essential crispy and golden base with a bit of hot soup inside the buns that squirt out...watch out! While 4 of these pork buns may sound small, they are actually very filling and moreish thanks to the thick batter. The xiao long bao were nicely formed with the right amount of meat and juices inside the thin casing. Might need to get better packaging because the soy sauce and vinegar were seeping through the edges. Most likely my fault because I was pouring too much of it.
Pan Fried Pork Buns and Xiao Long Bao by New Shanghai
The New Shanghai stall also featured a special of truffled pork xiao long bao dumplings which caught my eye instantly. Seriously my eyes go wide open everytime I see the word 'truffles'. Not too pricey either though more expensive than most other dumpling dishes that New Shanghai were offering at NNM. I was expecting to see some pieces of truffle scattered with the pork but instead all I saw was pork. I wasn't sure if I got the right dumplings even though I paid for the special but there was a slight hint of truffle eventually. My guess was that it's just truffle oil but was again disappeared because of my excessive use of soy sauce and vinegar...again.
Truffle Xiao Long Bao by New Shanghai
Working hard and making dumplings at East Ocean
At East Ocean Restaurant, they offered a few decadent combo deals including the Dim Sum Box where you get 8 pieces for $15. Better than just $2 per piece because you get to try all of their dim sum dumplings and morsels. I even opted for another peking duck pancake on the side. It was enjoyable trying out the 4 different variants of siu mai dumplings including pork, chicken, beef, and even seafood and corn. Enjoyed the plump prawn har gow dumpling even if the skin was slightly thick. Was really surprised at how much I liked the texture of the vegetarian dumplings as well as the BBQ pork bun. Wished the pork bun has more filling though.
Dim Sum Dumpling Box and Peking Duck Pancake by East Ocean Restaurant
Been eating way too much Din Tai Fung especially the xiao long bao dumplings lately thanks to the Westfield branch located less than 5 mins walk from work. Compared to the other dumpling joints, Din Tai Fung is renowned for their silky and incredibly thin dumpling skin especially in their xiao long baos. This time, I decided to go for the Jiao Ze dumplings instead. The thin, smooth and silky skin applies to this type of dumpling. So good when you poke through the skin and then the meaty juices oozes out. Can never ever get sick of Din Tai Fung dumplings.
Shrimp and Pork Jiao Ze Dumplings by Din Tai Fung
Haven't tried the below dish at any Din Tai Fung restaurants before so this got me curious. Unlike the other dumplings dishes, this one uses tangy dip (I think it's mayo) on the side instead of soy sauce and vinegar. This was a great match in combining the crunchy dumpling with the zesty smooth mayo dip.
Fried Shrimp and Pork Won Ton with Tangy Dip by Din Tai Fung
One of my fave stalls at NNM this year was from Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine. Not only do they make amazing food with heavenly aroma that drives you to the sand, they even have the owner herself, Jackie, working tirelessly every single event. Plus I wanted to try everything on the menu but the servings are incredibly generous so I ended up ordering takeaway each time. The fried radish cakes immediately reminded me of my trip to Singapore so I opted for this instantly. These were absolutely delicious from the piping hot radish cakes to the stir fried egg, bean sprouts and chives. Loads of carbs but such a guilty pleasure.
Stir fried Radish Cakes (Chai Tow Kway) by Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine
I returned back to the Jackie M stall in one of my last visits where I got to try the Char Kway Teow that I've seen the staff cooking near the front of the stall last time. I've heard from a fellow blogger that this is one of Jackie's signature dishes which aroused my curiosity especially after seeing different types of noodles tossed and wok-fried with passion. The noodles were well-cooked and worked well with the other ingredients (bean sprouts, chives, egg and chicken) to make it a delicious dish full of flavour. Hope to try many of Jackie M's dishes again when I go to the restaurant which I believe has moved from Concord to Darlinghurst recently according to the website.
Char Kway Teow by Jackie M Malaysian Cuisine
Last but not least (zomggg) was from Longrain Sydney. I wanted to try the curry dish but the weather was incredibly hot throughout the duration of the NNM so eventually I went with their Hot and Sour Salad of pork, glass noodles, peanuts, mint and coriander. This ended up being on of my favourites for this festival because of the many flavours, colours and textures balanced together in this dish. After eating so much oily and carb-tastic foods, it was nice to have something refreshing like this. Despite its name, it's not even spicy but they do have chilli on the side if you want a bit of spice. Will definitely make the trip to Longrain one day to try their dishes.
While the Night Noodle Markets in Sydney is sadly over for another year, I hear that Melbourne is doing one right about now so this should give you an idea what to expect, my fellow Melb readers :). There were lots of delicious food stalls to discover and surprisingly not enough time to eat everything. Lines are still annoying though but since most stalls were from restaurants, it gave me an idea on which ones to check out post-NNM. Looking forward to Good Food Month again next October. Hurry up already!
Sydney Night Noodle Markets
Hyde Park North, Sydney
October 9-12, 14-19, 21-26
Mon-Tue 5-9pm, Wed 5-10pm, Thu-Fri 5-11pm, Sat 4-10pm