The Night Noodle Markets are back on again in Melbourne (but not for much longer), bringing together some old crowd-favourites intermingled with the new kids on the block.
Visit number one saw us making a beeline for some of the must-orders from previous years (Mr Miyagi's nori tacos and Black Star Pastry's famous strawberry watermelon cake) whilst leaving some room for any new ones that caught our eyes. During said visit, it was Sydney's Bao Stop that took out this spot, wooing our taste buds with both their trifecta of bao selection and Peking duck fries.
Look for one of the longest queues at the markets and you'll spot Mr Miyagi. At 6.30pm, the wait from one end of the line to the other took close to 30 minutes, and this only seemed to worsen as time elapsed! But I can tell you that the wait was well worth it! This year, Mr Miyagi has further expanded their nori taco range to include butter chicken and panko prawn options in addition to the classic salmon and tempura soft shell crab ones they had during last year's run. I opted for the classic. Having tried the soft shell crab variant last year, I had decided that nothing quite beats the classic blend of creamy mayo and fresh grilled salmon.
Another must order: the strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry. I've had this several times over the last few years and it never disappoints! The flavours and textures captured in this cake are incredibly balanced, refreshing and not overly sweet. Perfect for some warmer weather should Melbourne choose to deliver on that front. Bonus appeal comes in the form of its highly photogenic appearance.
Lastly, we encountered some hits and misses with Bao Stop. Peking duck fries: hit, hit, hit! Featuring crispy golden fries topped with shredded peking duck, Bao Stop's peking sauce and some spring onion (salivating as I type this...), it's as though two of my favourite foods got together to produce one super duper delicious creation. The trifecta of bao was comprised of a braised pork belly, fried chicken and fried peking duck option. The textures of the baos were spot on; soft and light. But only the fried chicken hit the mark. Coated in a crispy batter and sporting some juicy and succulent flesh, the fried chicken was excellent. Its accompaniments (red sugar chilli jam, carrot, spring onion, and Bao Stop's signature chilli mayo sauce) took it to greater heights, providing an explosion of tasty and balanced flavour with each bite. The braised pork belly (topped with Bao Stop's peking sauce, fresh coriander, roasted peanuts, pickled mustard greens and Taiwanese mayo) was fine but tasted somewhat standard. The fried peking duck option was a miss altogether with barely any filling. Perhaps all the duck somehow found its way into our duck fries...
With only a few days remaining (geez, the time really does fly), it's time to get moving if you still want to squeeze in a visit (or revisit) to the Night Noodle Markets.
Night Noodle Markets
November 10th to 27th
Mon - Tues 5pm - 9pm, Wed - Thurs 5pm - 10pm, Fri 5pm - 11pm, Sat 4pm - 10pm, Sun 4pm - 9pm