Skip to main content

Good Food Month 2013 Night Noodle Markets, Melbourne

If you've read my blog before, you'll know how often I bemoan the lack of awesome, accessible Asian food in Melbourne (distinct as separate Asian cuisines) at everyday prices. One of the things I missed most about Sydney after moving to Melbourne was the Good Food Month Night Noodle Markets, held in Hyde Park every year since I was a teenager in the '90s. A central location, pretty lanterns, chilled music, and a few plastic chairs and tables was all that was needed to accompany a bunch of stalls selling noodles or grog to make what I consider a Perfect Night Out. So you can imagine my excitement when it was announced that this year's Good Food Month would be introducing Melbourne's inaugural Night Noodle Markets in Alexandra Gardens. Wheeeeeeeeee!



Along with half of Melbourne, I attended its first evening last night (Monday). Here are my observations.

1.  Expect a crowd. 
Melburnians really like food events, outdoor events, pop-up events, and anything considered even vaguely cool. Since this is a combination of ALL OF THOSE THINGS, it makes sense that everyone rocked up to check it out on the first night. After Googling where it was (that's Alexandra - not Alexander Gardens, in the city - not Kew - and not Queen Vic Markets! Basically, they're behind the rowing boatsheds on the Yarra, just over Princes Bridge from the city)*, I arrived just before 6pm to empty tables and expectant stallholders. By 6.30pm, the place was jam-packed, with slow-moving queues snaking from every single stall, at least a 20-minute wait for any kind of food, and nary an open space to stand, let alone sit.

Alexandra Gardens are just across the river from Fed Square

Turn left here! and go down the garden path...

...until you see a whole bunch of event stuff.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME.


2.  Weather-proof yourself. 
Opening night happened to coincide with Melbourne's first 28-degree day in a while, and being a fair-skinned type, fortunately I'd remembered to slip-slop-slap (OK - minus the hat). BE WARNED: If it's sunny, you'll burn (slash tan, if you're the lucky type). There is very little overhead cover onsite; most seating areas are very exposed. I'm interested to see how the Markets fare over the next few days, with rain predicted. (Soggy noodles?)

Empty tables

Evil sun

Music rotunda


3.  Some big-name restaurants are involved. 
Think Izakaya Den, Longrain, Mamak, Wonderbao, I Love Pho, the Bahn Mi Boys... and so on. Desserts are taken care of by Gelato Messina (brand new to Melbourne with their first outlet now open on Smith Street, Fitzroy) and Serendipity Icecream. There are four bars onsite, offering Coopers beer, Rekorderlig cider, Tanqueray gin and Yalumba wines.

Stalls along "Lotus Avenue"

Yes, please.

Tanqueray tent chandelier


4.  The food is affordable and tasty. 
We tried the "Hot-and-sour salad of pork, glass noodles, peanuts, mint and coriander" from Longrain, $14, and a large "Den fried chicken" from Izakaya Den, $12. Just be warned, servings aren't massive. If you are forced to queue for a while, consider getting a few dishes from the same stall, to cut down on waiting times. Gin-and-tonics set us back $8.50 each (pretty good for Tanqueray... but with way too much ice!).

City skyline view from the queue

Filling up...

Den chicken!  *nom*

Icy G-and-T


5.  Only eat sweet if you can be arsed. 
After waiting for dinner-food, we really wanted to try one of the desserts from Messina, but waiting in yet another queue was so off-putting that we decided to stop at their new Smith Street store on the way home instead (which, incidentally, also had a queue - but one nowhere near as long).

Queues and people everywhere



As expected, overall the Night Noodle Markets are AWESOME, and I very much hope they will become a regular annual fixture on Melbourne's Good Food Month calendar. This year, they run from 18 to 30 November 2013, from 5pm weeknights and 4pm weekends til at least 9pm.



*The website provides a very handy PDF map of the Markets' location, along with menu listings for each stall.




Update: 22 November 2013

A second visit to the Noodle Markets last night afforded the opportunity to try more noodly goodness. I sampled Paperboy Kitchen's "Grilled salmon noodle salad" - surprisingly filling, and quite tasty - and tried bits of everyone else's food, too (cos that's how I roll). Here are some more pics, for those who only want to eat food when they've seen it:

Somebody else's prawny noodles

Pork dumplings

Indian something-or-other colourful and tasty

Samosa thingies.
(Sorry, should have written down what we actually ate. ...Dum de duuuummm)


On a Thursday evening, that *wasn't* Opening Night, and with less shiny weather than last time, queues were noticeably shorter (thank goodness). It was still a bitch-fight to nab a table, though. (We succeeded.)

Also, this time, patrons were treated to a Chinese (and/or Indonesian?) lion dance. Videographic proof!



The Night Noodle Markets run for one more week, until Saturday 30 November 2013 (inclusive). Get there while you can!


Popular posts from this blog

Steak Night and Pub Meal Specials

Want Melbourne Patron blog posts delivered straight to your inbox? Click on the "Subscribe" button at the top of this page and follow the simple instructions. Magic!


I am a sucker for a good steak, and lately, what with moving house and all the extra expenses that incurs, I've been on the lookout for great pub specials such as steak nights. I've been keeping a list on my phone of some of the deals I've found at venues around my home and work (mostly in the CBD, Fitzroy/Collingwood, Richmond/Abbotsford, South Yarra/Prahran/Windsor, South Melbourne) - and there are lots, so please note I haven't tried them all. Several of my friends have asked me to send them a copy of the list - so I figure this way, I can share it with everybody who might be interested!

PLEASE NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the pub specials in Melbourne (there are many websites for that already!), nor is it necessarily current. I will do my best to keep it up-to-date - if…

Spice Temple

Spice Temple  Neil Perry's Fine Dining Chinese Restaurant at Crown, Southbank, Melbourne
It's considered an institution in Melbourne, and with a chef to its name like Neil Perry, a location like Southbank, and an existence of six years in the Melbourne restaurant scene (when staying power is notoriously elusive), it's no wonder. Spice Temple's name is a pretty accurate description of the restaurant: food heavy in spices and spiciness; a dim space with a sort of hushed reverence.



The quiet tone of Spice Temple (Shop 7, Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank) could well be due to its design. With lots of dark wood and more traditional red and gold carpet, one might be forgiven for thinking it's a little dated. What keeps it current is the symmetrical and perpendicular fittings, creating neat squared-off eating nooks, and the dark, felt-like soundproofing material spaced out overhead, muffling any white noise.



Walking into the restaurant's reception area, yo…

The Lui Bar

In my opinion, some places are simply better experienced than described. This post features many photos which hardly do The Lui Bar (Level 55, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne) justice, because no matter how many pictures I show you or words I write about it, there is just nothing like viewing Melbourne from 55 floors up, handcrafted cocktail in hand, listening to jazz.



The Lui Bar stems off Shannon Bennett's revered restaurant Vue De Monde, the degustation meal of which is absolutely on my bucket list. The restaurant was moved to the Rialto site in 2011, and its adjoining bar has also been making waves ever since.



Iconic in location, the venue not only occupies the top level of what was, in 1986, the tallest building in Melbourne and the Southern Hemisphere at 251 metres, but offers spectacular city views of up to 60 kilometres on a clear day. Even the Eureka Tower, currently Melbourne's tallest building at 297.3 metres, looks smaller from the Rialto's former …