Cuisine: International street food
Melbourne’s Night Market is due to return next month for the Australian summer and the start of a well loved tradition. November is technically not quite summer – in fact when I was in Melbourne last November, I had to buy some sensible, waterproof shoes and lamented the fact that I hadn’t packed a warm jacket as it was so rainy and cold!
The Night Market will open from the beginning of November, through to the end of March and will be held on Wednesday evenings from 5pm – 10 pm at the Queen Victoria Market in the CBD. There will be a large number of stalls, from jewellery to ceramics and of course, food. Lots of food stalls and cuisines serving a huge range of street food – during the last Night Market season, this included gelato, Chinese dumplings, Sicilian, Spanish and Nepalese. Local businesses included Mamak, Wingman and PATS The Philly Way.
One of the most eye catching stalls for me were the South Korean fried potato twists (or tornados) – I can only describe these as a huge deep fried potato twist on a stick! I had not come across these previously back in the UK and have not since my return – Korean food is gaining in popularity so no doubt we will be treated to this popular street food. However, I saw them in Melbourne first 🙂
I have fond memories of last summer’s Night Market. I stayed at a nearby hotel for work and rather than eat at the hotel, I chose to go to the Night Market as it was nearby and because I wanted to sample a Melbournite tradition. In addition to the stalls, there were also three stages for live bands, the music giving a nice buzz.
There was so much choice and much to tickle one’s fancy at the Night Market. After walking around the market a couple of times, I decided to go for Hammer & Tong’s soft shell crab burger. I’m glad I did! This was truly delicious and I can see how this is the signature dish. Lightly battered soft shell crab sandwiched in a brioche bun, cooked perfectly and not too greasy. This surely is no mean feat considering that the food was cooked and prepared at a food stall, ‘fast food’ style.
To accompany the burger, I had a smoked corn and black bean side salad and a bottle of refreshing organic sparkling blood orange fizz. Both salad and drink complemented the burger perfectly, cutting through the richness of the crab and brioche. I didn’t get the chance to go to the Hammer & Tong restaurant in Fitzroy, but I am glad that I tried their signature dish.
There were lots of people at the Night Market and most of the market is under cover, so ok for any unpredictable heavy showers! In the height of summer, I can imagine that the crowds and the smell of barbecue being rather oppressive. The queues can be daunting too and there is limited seating. However, I did not have to wait too long to be served or to get a table. I did find that the queues at the Night Noodle Market (in the Alexandra Gardens) were worse, to the point where I was selective about which queue to join.
I left the Night Market feeling nicely full and rather content – I was tempted with some churros or gelato for dessert but I decided against it. I hope all my Melburnian friends and readers are looking forward to the 2014 / 15 Night Market – I know I would if I were still in Melbourne 🙂
The Queen Victoria Night Market
Corner of Elizabeth Street and Victoria Street
Tel: +61 3 9320 5822
Opening hours: Wednesday 17.00 – 22.00 Summer only
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: Up to $15
Hammer & Tong
Rear 412 Brunswick Street