Good Food Month

Night Noodle Market 2015, Sydney

DSC07452

Another year, another Night Noodle Market, another chance for me to empty my wallet on various Asian street foods.

The annual Night Noodle Market kick started last (last) week, lighting up (or fogging up with all the furious meat sizzling) Hyde Park once again from Thursday 8 October to Sunday 25 October. As a part of Good Food Month, Sydney, the Night Noodle Market brings together Asian restaurants from all over Sydney and Australia to bring us an experience that we sorely lack in Australia, night markets.

The joys of late night food runs, where you’re not just stuck with fast food chains or kebabs (don’t get me wrong, I adore kebabs), where you can wonder down the streets at 11pm on a weeknight and it’s bustling with people sizzling skewers, ladies scooping piping hot soup noodles or icy cold sweet treats into plastic throw away containers while lights, sounds and amazing smells waft from every corner. That to me, as someone who loves food a bit too much and midnight snacking, is what dreams are made of! It is also probably the main reason why I want to live in Hong Kong for a year, instead of doing London, like a normal person does when they get that overseas working holiday urge.

The Night Noodle Market tries to recreate that exact experience, but in our own backyard, where there’s even a little bit of greenery to go with it!

DSC07439

I must say, in the last few years the Night Noodle Market has come a long way from its humble beginnings. I admit, I wasn’t a massive fan after experiencing the Night Noodle Market in its first year. To me, it was just a poor attempt at gouging at people’s pockets and charging festival pricing for meals that could be easily obtained just five to ten minutes down the road. In the first year, Good Food Month, just brought together a bunch of restaurants from around the CBD. These restaurants seemed to just serve their standard dishes in smaller quantities and at massively over inflated prices and don’t forget the 30 minute or more wait for anything even remotely good and the lack of seating because it was so darn popular. I wasn’t going to pay that much and wait that long for something I could get down the street. So during the first Night Noodle Market, instead of waiting at the Mamak’s stall, I decided to just go to Mamak, at their actual store in Chinatown instead. In hindsight it was a pretty good night.

Ever since then, I haven’t been super keen on the Night Noodle Market. That, and me now being a three hour drive away probably contributed, instead of a stop over after uni. Flash forward thee years and it looks like things have changed! I now have to walk past the wafting smells of barbecued meats and other fantastic goodies each night to get home. So naturally, instead of eating dinner at home, I’ve been dropping by and getting a different treat each night.

The Night Noodle Market has definitely gotten a lot cooler over the years. There are now fantastic eateries from around Sydney and even some interstate and festival only stalls showing up as well! Plus, you’ve got eateries doing goodies that you can’t really get at their standard store, like Messina and Wonderbao, N2 and Black Star Pastry and Miss Dipity and Mr Bao doing awesome collaborations. Then there’s One Tea Lounge offering miso caramel and Everyone Loves Ramen’s ramen tacos. Pretty awesome right?!

So what caught my eye at the Night Noodle Market? This is the bit where I post pictures of things.

DSC07639

Well, who can go past the dessert lovers dream? Messina meets Wonderbao with the David Bao-wy ($12), deep fried bao with salted coconut sorbet dipped in white chocolate mango ganache and rolled in crashed cashews. This tasted a lot better than it looked. Actually, it looks quite nice in real life, we just take horrific photos. So don’t let this put you off, just check it out on Instagram.

If I had to describe this bao in one word, it would be ‘rich’ but not necessarily in a bad way, especially if you like decadent desserts, then this is going to be right up your alley. But it’s definitely not for the faint hearted or I guess anyone with heart problems to be honest. This bao brings together a super fluffy while crisp deep fried bao with creamy sorbet and a splash of ganache to top it all off cos it wasn’t already flavourful and sweet enough.

DSC07446

Although I wasn’t able to finish this whole bao myself, purely because it got too much, I actually enjoyed the bites that I did have. The bao was probably my favourite part. It was super fluffy, airy and light, as you would expect from the amazing people at Wonderbao. Thanks to the deep frying, the bao had a lovely crisp shell which contrasted the fluffy interior. Inside the bao, there was a lovely and smooth coconut sorbet. Finally there was the white chocolate and mango ganache which I thought brought the majority of flavour to this little bao. Finally cashews because no one ever said no to cashews right?

After having this David Bao-wy, I definitely think I’ll be dropping by Messina again to try the Great Balls of Fryer. Not a massive fan of peanut butter ice cream but fried ice-cream, I’m all there.

DSC07454

After having the super sweet David Bao-wy from Messina on my first night, I was back but this time for something savoury and who can go past Ramen tacos ($18 for 3) from Everyone Loves Ramen. With the set, you get a miso beef with iceberg lettuce taco, a terriyaki chicken with spring onions and baby radish taco, and a pork belly with coriander and Sriracha mayo slaw taco. I’m not sure if you can buy these separately, I didn’t really notice an option for it on Everyone Loves Ramen’s menu but if it’s your first time trying these ramen tacos, all three are worth it, each are quite different in flavour and taste.

I really didn’t do these ramen tacos justice with my ‘amazing’ photography skills (this seems to be a running theme so far. I swear, I’ll improve). Nevertheless, they were tasty. It’s a simple concept, deep fried egg noodles with flavoursome meats and some veggies for garnish. The ramen taco shells tasted exactly like what you get in a chow mein but a lot crunchier, you also get that mildly eggy flavour and that deep fried flavour that I know I’ve described so well. I know that sounds totally gross but if you like fries, fried chicken or the baos from Messina than you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Although tasty, I must say like anything made out of ramen noodles that isn’t actually soupy ramen, where it be a ramen burger or these ramen tacos, the structural integrity just isn’t there. Expect meat, iceberg lettuce and pieces of red cabbage everywhere.

DSC07456

As for which combination I liked best, it was definitely between the chicken and the pork. The beef just didn’t stand up to the others at all. Too stringy and combined with the iceberg lettuce it was just all a bit too boring. Now the chicken and the pork, those were just packed with flavours. For me, I would have to say the pork. Awesome fatty and crispy cubes of pork coupled with creamy and flavourful red cabbage slaw. The perfect combination of big flavours and contrasting textures. The pork is what I’m going back for next time. If you can buy them separately. Which I’m not sure I can.

Well, thats it for now. Stick around, I promise there will be more. Well I’ve already got the pictures, now I’ve just got to write them up before the event ends this Sunday. If you haven’t been already, head over soon.

In the meantime, feel free to read our post from the Enlightened Night Noodle Markets in Canberra, 2015. I notice a few of the stalls that we ate at and wrote up are the same like Hoy Pinoy, Daniel San, Roti Road, Teppayaki Noodles, Span Thai and etc.

 

Enlighten Night Noodle Market, Canberra

DSC09756

I absolutely love Enlighten, its almost my favourite event in Canberra (with the Multicultural Festival just barely in front). There is just something about pretty and bright lights, I just can’t handle how much I love them. I’ve been attending Enlighten ever since I first came to Canberra a couple of years back. Being from Sydney, I had no idea Canberra had such an event, I’ve always loved Vivid Sydney, which is a really similar event that happens in late Autumn, early Winter. I have been braving the winter cold to attend Vivid every year since it began in 2009. When I heard that Canberra had a similar event early on in my grad year, in the height of my missing homeness, I just had to go! Canberra’s Enlighten definitely focuses on projections instead of light fixtures but that completely makes sense, since Canberra has so many magnificent buildings to project on to. Vivid Sydney on the other hand has a lot more installation art, which I like equally as much. There, avoided a bit of a state versus state thing there. Phew.

This year, Enlighten has teamed up with Good Food Month to bring the Night Noodle Markets to Canberra. I must say, its almost like a dream come true, pretty lights with fantastic Asian street foods. The Night Noodle Market has been a regular food festival that happens during Good Food Month in Sydney. It has recently also expanded to Melbourne and Brisbane as well. I’ve always enjoyed the Noodle Night Markets, for a couple of weeks, Hyde Park is filled with various Asian restaurants from all around Sydney selling lovely snack dishes at “wonderful” festival prices. I was being sarcastic there, but seriously, I love the event despite festival pricing, it’s just a really fun night, and the convenience cannot be beat. Its the perfect place for all things dumplings, stir fries, skewers and more. Its also sees other much loved restaurants from Sydney coming out, like Messina with its ice cream burgers and treats, various bao stores and heaps more.

DSC09781

Here in Canberra, the Noodle Night Markets combines bright lights with 15 eateries from around Australia, including plenty of restaurants from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. As well as a single restaurant from Canberra, Morks. I did find that it was a little weird that only one stall was from Canberra, especially with the Multicultural Festival having just finished, I mean come on, they’ve probably barely packed the tents away! I guess this will give Canberrans plenty of exposure to these other fantastic restaurants from across the country. I also noticed that the Noodle Night Markets had a heavy focus on Thai food, Japanese food and skewers. There was also a Malaysian shop and Let’s Do Yum Cha, which I guess is Chinese but there was no Korean food or Vietnamese food which was a bit of a shame but that means next year can only get better!

The Enlighten Night Noodle Market will run over the 10 nights of Enlighten (27 Feb to 8 Mar), starting from 5PM on weekdays until late and 4PM on weekends. Since it started last Friday, I’ve headed out to the Night Noodle Markets which is located in Reconciliation Place next to Questacon twice. There is plenty of space with some chairs and tables around. However, word of warning, on both Friday and Saturday, and from what I’ve been hearing from friends who have been heading out during the week, the Night Noodle Markets is completely going off! People were waiting over an hour to get food and the lines started stretching all the way to the end of the park. It was crazy. Knowing Canberra and its love for events, I got in early both days and hoarded my food as quickly as possible, then grabbed a table and settled for the afternoon. So I never really had any issues with crowd. Though I did see a lot of people complaining on Twitter about it, which I enjoyed because 1. I wasn’t in the crowds, and 2. They sometimes had puns.

Anyways, here are all the goodies I’ve sampled from the Night Noodle Markets so far. I think I’ve pretty much tried out all the stalls, except two or three Thai ones. I’m not a massive fan of getting full dishes or meals at festivals and those few Thai places were offering pad thais and etc. So that’s a no sale from me.

Morks Restaurant

DSC09997

Here is the Boat noodle beef soup ($10) from Morks. Here at the Night Noodle Markets, Morks has brought something straight from home. This classical Thai dish is quite different to any of the dishes that Morks’ offers at their restaurant on the Kingston Foreshore which focuses on contemporary Thai food. After having this dish, I totally reckon they should introduce more traditional and less well known Thai dishes to their menu because this was delicious.

For the Night Noodle Markets, Morks’ offered two versions of this dish, this soup one and a dry version which has the exact same ingredients minus the beef broth. I opted for soup, since I figure why not. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from it, it was just some noodles and soup in the end of the day but it ended up blowing my mind. The dish came with a variety of meats including beef balls (like in pho), brisket, crispy pork skin, tripe and noodles. The crazy thing, everything had a weird “home made” feel to it, the beef balls were odd shaped, and didn’t taste as processed as the ones you get with pho, the brisket was just absolutely divine, chopped thick and pulled apart easily with fat hanging off the edge, the tripe was, well it was just normal tripe. The soup was super flavoursome and really meaty, the noodles were soft and silky, while the crackling pork skin added some great texture and crunch to the noodle soup. For me though, the brisket was the god of this dish, and I bowed down to it an appropriate number of times I believe.

Sadly, while we were hoarding this dish, we waited awhile and a lot of the soup got sucked up into the noodles, making them all bloated, but worst of all, removing our precious soup! Word to the wise, eat this as soon as you get it, because it doesn’t age particularly well.

This noodle soup reminds me of all the Thai two minute noodles I had while I was growing up, now I know what the true dish taste like!

Morks Restaurant on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato

DSC09682

N2 Extreme Gelato is also in town, offering their amazing gelatos and ice cream made out of nitrogen oxide. They’ve got the Kitchenaids out and everything, its great seeing clouds of white smoke go everywhere around the N2 stall. Though, it should be said, this is in between Roti Road and another place (I forget) and they were both just pumping smoke out on account of their BBQ’s roasting up skewers, so yeah there’s just a lot of smoke, nitrogen style and otherwise.

I could talk about N2 for ages, I love this place. I remember when it first opened up in Sydney while I was in uni. N2 became a regular meet up place in our last semester. Anyways, no life story this time. But if you do want a life story and want to see more goodies from N2, check out my N2 Extreme Gelato, Sydney review.

Here at the Night Noodle Market, N2 is offering two ice creams. I don’t know if they’ll be changing the flavours throughout the festival but if they do, that would be totally awesome! The below picture was really awkward to get (there was no way to hide that I was taking a picture) so I hope this is useful to someone out there.

DSC09684

Currently, the two flavours are a Ferrero reveal which includes nutella gelato with crushed hazelnut with a rice bubble chocolate top and chocolate syringe. The second flavour is the Brokeback moment which includes vanilla gelato, bits of honeycomb and a chocolate top with a caramel syringe and a sprinkling of honeycomb. Both flavours are $8 each. I quite like that they have one chocolate base and one vanilla base, it nicely accommodates everyone, chocolate lovers and non chocolate lovers.

I did notice that N2’s ice creams here at the Night Noodle Markets are smaller than their standard cups in Sydney. They’re also the same price. Not too much of a complaint or anything, seeing as it is a festival and everything is more expensive at festivals as I mentioned earlier. There should be a term for it, like ‘festival pricing’. Where everything is just stupidly expensive yet we’re still all suckers for it. Oh well, at least it was as tasty as Sydney.

DSC09688

On the first day, I went for the Brokeback moment ($8), vanilla gelato mixed with bits of honeycomb and a chocolate top with a caramel syringe and a sprinkling of honeycomb. When I first got to the Night Noodle Market, I knew I had to get this as quickly as possible. I figured as soon as people realised there was a place making gelato out of nitrogen, the lines were going to be insane, and while I love festivals, I’ve been to enough to know that the lines at them suck.

Anyways, this Brokeback moments totally caught my eye, I’m not much of a chocolate person and thought the nutella Fererro reveal flavour was going to be too rich. Plus, who doesn’t like honeycomb?! This totally lived up to expectations. The ice cream itself was silky smooth and really delicious and creamy. It did melt quite quickly and sometimes it makes me wonder what’s the point of the liquid nitrogen, I mean, if you’re freezing something in a cool new way, and that makes it more prone to melting then I don’t know, I guess it’s obvious where I’m going here. Though I should mention, since the crew at N2 dipped the vanilla ice cream into a warm milk chocolate, it froze up and created a delicious and crunchy chocolate top, at the expense of maximum freezicity.

The chocolate top added just the right amount of chocolate to the vanilla ice cream and when I mixed it up, it reminded me of stracciatella. I didn’t really notice any honeycomb within the gelato as the descriptions states but there was a sprinkling on top that was enough to introduce that lovely golden syrup flavour to the ice cream. Finally, to top it all off, there was some gooey caramel sauce that could be drizzled all over the ice cream and really added to that honeycomb flavour.

DSC09976

Second time around, I couldn’t fight the allure of more N2, and tried the Ferrero reveal ($8), nutella gelato mixed with crushed hazelnut with a rice bubble chocolate top and a chocolate syringe. I must say, this was a lot nicer than I was expecting. When I first saw the menu I just assumed it was going to be this really rich chocolatey ice cream. Turns out, it had a really strong hazelnut flavour and replicated a Ferrero Rocher really well! After having both flavours, I think I actually prefer this one, which is weird because I normally prefer non chocolate options.

The nutella ice cream was absolutely delicious, it had a really strong hazelnut flavour with only a mild chocolate after taste. To top it off, there was the rice bubble chocolate top which perfectly replicated the nutty and chocolatey outside section of a Ferrero Rocher. This Ferrero reveal was perfectly nutty and chocolatey with just the right amount of crunch and texture to remind me of a Ferrero Rocher.  It was the perfect treat for the super warm weather we’re having here in Canberra. Oh, there was also a syringe with some chocolate ganache in it. Side note, squeeze it out quickly, otherwise it starts to solidify since its in the cold ice cream and becomes a bit of a pain.

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Let’s Do Yum Cha

DSC00001

We also grabbed some Pork bun, vegetarian spring roll, har gow, siu mai ($2 each) from the Let’s Do Yum Cha stall. There was also a truck on the other side of the park selling the same things, so good news if you’re into dumplings! I think they were $2.50 each if you got less than five and $2 each if you got more than five. I’ve had food from the Let’s Do Yum Cha food truck once at Vivid in Sydney and wasn’t overly impressed. Nevertheless, being the only Chinese food stall at the Enlighten Night Noodle Market, I decided to give it a second chance.

I must say, this time the dumplings were a lot tastier (and tasty enough for me to definitely come back in the future!). Last time when I had them at Vivid, the baos and har gow skins were really tough and unpleasant, the inside was also pretty average and quite meh to me. This time, it was a lot better. The har gow and siu mai skin were all really soft and glutinous like they should be, while the inside was firm, bitey and meaty. The skins actually aged really well, because we took a bunch home with us and I ate one of the har gows about three or four hours after I purchased it, it was still pretty soft and delicious. Though one thing I should mention, I noticed that the skin of the har gow and bao was a lot thicker than you’d normally find elsewhere, which was a bit of a dampener, because nobody likes thick skins on their dumplings. At least I don’t think. This was especially evident with the pork bao, which I probably wouldn’t get again if I came back here, it’s roughly 5cm thick, and the white fluffy skin takes up probably 3cm of it. Not great if you’re a fan of pork. Nevertheless, pretty good considering its coming out of a truck. I thought the vegetarian spring roll was also really tasty and flavoursome, it had a really strong Asian flavour to it, which was nice. As opposed to the usual cabbage filling that you find in cheaper spring rolls.

Lets Do Yum Cha on Urbanspoon

Daniel San

DSC09696

This is the first of many many skewers that we ate at the Enlighten Night Noodle Markets. So get ready for some skewers galore! Apparently Daniel San is from Sydney, I have never really heard of it or seen anything about it but that might be because its a bar and its in Manly, not really my scene to be honest (mainly due to the fact that its too far away). Anyways, here at the Night Noodle Markets, Daniel San brought down two different skewers, a pork one and a chicken one. Nothing else, I guess they’re specialising which isn’t a bad thing because it’s probably the only thing I would’ve ordered anyway. The skewers at Daniel San were $6 each or 2 for $10. Also, they were called ‘giant’ skewers, and whilst the sticks were absolutely massive, the actual meat sections on them were pretty comparable to the other skewers on offer at the Night Noodle Market. Pretty smart advertising to be honest, I completely got sucked into it, and hence this was the one I went for first! So if you’re into really big sticks, then this is the stall for you.

DSC09698

We opted for one of each flavour, the Chicken yakitori and pork belly with maple skewers ($10 for 2). I’m probably just going to talk about both of these skewers at once, mainly because I couldn’t really tell them apart, flavour wise or texture wise but you can put that down to skewer overload and everything becoming a bit of a blur. I thought these skewers were quite nice, they weren’t my favourite from the Night Noodle Market but that is more of a preference thing.

These skewers from Daniel San were quite firm and a tiny bit chewy. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but I think the toughness came from the meat that Daniel San was using, and I know it sounds like I’m about to crap on the meat, but it’s actually the opposite. It seemed like quite high quality meat where each chunk of meat on the skewer was lean flesh. There was no filler fat like you would find on a cheaper skewer where its all dark meat with fat everywhere.

In a sense, its great value for money, it’s just a stick of pure meat but maybe it’s because I’m a terrible uncultured swine, but I actually seem to prefer cheap terrible meat for some reason. I guess this is why I preferred some of the other skewers. This just wasn’t as fatty and delicious as I would have hoped. Outside of that, the skewers were cooked nicely and had a lovely charred smokey flavour.

Daniel San on Urbanspoon

Hoy Pinoy

DSC09991

So, we got some more skewers, Chicken and pork skewer ($10 for 2). These were from Hoy Pinoy, like with Daniel San, skewers were the only thing on offer at Hoy Pinoy. They also offer a chicken and pork option like Daniel San. Unlike Daniel San, you had to buy two, they didn’t give you the option of one which is kind of weird actually, but I didn’t mind because these were fantastic!

I’ll talk about the chicken one here and the pork skewers below. Seeing as I ended up with three pork skewers, you can imagine what I’m going to say about the pork skewer from Hoy Pinoy! But before that, the chicken skewer. So, you know how I said the skewers from Hoy Pinoy were delicious about two seconds ago? Let me just clear something up. The pork skewers from Hoy Pinoy were delicious. These chicken ones on the other hand were a bit average. Flavour wise, it was fine. The chicken skewer was flavoured in a sweetish soy which was rather pleasant. Where the pork pulled away from the chicken was purely on texture. They were pretty dry and just stuck on the skewer and it was pretty hard to get the meat off, and it suffered from much of the same problems as Daniel San, tough chewy meat that I didn’t seem to enjoy as much. Chicken is probably one of the more temperamental meats and cooking on a hot and unpredictable BBQ isn’t ideal, so I sort of understand, but lets just move onto the pork.

DSC00014

While the chicken skewers from Hoy Pinoy were rather average, these pork ones were amazing. So much so that I went back for seconds (or thirds, I guess). I mean, they weren’t even massive or anything and $5 isn’t cheap when it comes to a skewer but none of that mattered at the time because these were so fantastic! That should say something about how much I enjoyed them. These skewers were the perfect combination of meaty and fatty goodness. At Hoy Pinoy, it was pretty much a piece of meat, followed by a piece of fat etc. This meat every bite (or second bite, depending on how small your bites are) was a combination of delicious pork meat and fatty goodness). The fat added the perfect amount of softness to the tougher pork meat. To top off this fantastic texture, the flavouring of this pork skewer was super tasty. It was covered in a thick layer of plum sauce or that BBQ sauce they use on char sui, which gave it that smoky and sweetish flavour. Just fantastic. If you’re going to try one thing from the Noodle Night Markets (and you’re not a vegetarian) this has got to be it. Absolute favourite from the whole event.

Hoy Pinoy on Urbanspoon

Roti Road

DSC09678

So that wasn’t the last of our skewer overload, I also grabbed some Chicken skewers ($10 for 2) from Roti Road. Outside of these skewers, Roti Road offered some other Malaysian goodies including chicken wings and a sugar cane drink. These were some solid skewers, Daniel San may have called their skewers ‘giant’ but these ones from Roti Road were just as large and for the same price too.

These were pretty good, not quite as good as the pork ones from Hoy Pinoy but that’s pure flavour preference. These chicken skewers from Roti Road were really soft and cooked really well, the chicken was actually tender, it might have had something to do with this interesting spinning contraption they had going on at Roti Road, where the meats were in with upwards grill that rotated really quickly as it cooked. Then again that may have been for the chicken wings, I couldn’t really see on account of all the smoke. Nevertheless, good texture for chicken! Crazy! Flavourwise, it had this satay sauce on it, which gave it that whole sweet and sour flavour you find in a lot of Malaysian food, which I’m not the biggest fan of. I should have know before getting these skewers but for everyone else, I’m sure you’ll love the chicken skewers from Roti Road!

DSC00025

I also decided to grab the Sugar cane drink ($5). There wasn’t much choice when it came to non alcoholic drinks (not including standard soft drinks, because man, what’s the deal with festival prices on soft drinks?!). So with soft drinks out, there was only this sugar cane drink, and the Ribena and longan drink from Pasar Malam but more about that later on because of course, I ended up with both.

I absolutely love sugar cane drinks. I grew up on these things. Every time we went to Cabramatta in the middle of summer, my mum would reward us with a sugar cane drink for behaving and not running around like crazy kids or begging for various candies, sweets and treats. Fond memories. Sadly, this drink wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Not sure if its a style thing, seeing as this was coming from a Malaysian shop, maybe they do sugar cane drinks differently over there? I know at Vietnamese shops, they normally mix the sugar cane juice with orange juice to add some tartness and balance out the sickly sweetness. It works surprising well as I’ve learnt. Here, it seems like they’ve tried to balance it out with water. The end result was a watered down drink that was really sweet but had little flavour. Not the best I’ve had but nevertheless still refreshing. By the way, sugar cane drinks are like $3 for a cup like this in Cabramatta, just saying *shakes fist* to festival pricing!

Roti Road on Urbanspoon

Teppanyaki Noodles

DSC00021

I promise these are the last set of skewers I got! Fanta chicken skewers ($10 for 3). I didn’t really care for these to be honest when I saw them. They just don’t look as good as the others on offer at the Night Noodle Market but after seeing the name I had to try it out. Were these skewers flavoured using Fanta or was it some other crazy thing?!

I guess when they say Fanta, they don’t mean what I think they mean. These skewers definitely didn’t have a sweet orange flavour to them, instead it seemed like they were flavoured with a light soy. I’m assuming its not soy and instead some interesting and weird Japanese condiment but to me, all things salty and dark in colour taste like soy, must be in my head.

I quite enjoyed this skewer. It was a nice change from all the other skewers that I had at the Night Noodle Markets. Everything else was really heavily flavoured in either a sauce or had been marinating for a long time hence the flavour had seeped throughout the meat. Here the meat itself wasn’t heavily spiced at all with the sauce doing all the heavy lifting. The meat itself actually had a really nice texture, another win for chicken on a stick! They were really tightly packed, so was actually quite good value for money and you can buy one for $4 or 3 for $10 making these skewers the cheapest at the market.

Teppanyaki Noodles on Urbanspoon

Zagyoza

DSC00006_1

Next up some Japanese gyoza, Pumpkin & fetta and ocean’s catch gyoza ($12 for 8, +$2 for ocean’s catch). I must say, by far Zagyoza had the most complicated menu of the Night Noodle Market and really, they were only selling dumplings. At Zagyoza, you could get 5 dumplings for $8 or 8 for $12. With these two options, you cannot mix and match the flavours. However, on their signs, it also states that you can also get 4 pork dumplings and 4 chicken dumplings for $12 but there’s no indication that you can do half and half with there other options. Nevertheless, we decided to give it a shot and asked if we could get half and half for $12, they happily said yes.

On a more food related note, the gyoza here were okay. They had a couple of flavours including: pork, chicken, vegan black bean, pumpkin and fetta and ocean’s catch. There was also an additional $2 charge for the seafood option. I thought the two flavours I got were okay but by no means delicious or value for money to be honest. I found the dumpling skin quite tough, especially where the skin joins up at the top and the filling inside was rather average. The filling inside was like a puree for both flavours, this was fine for the pumpkin and fetta gyoza but I was expecting more from the ocean’s catch, especially when I’m paying $8 for 4, that’s $2 a dumpling!! Although it had some nice flavours, it tasted like prawn with ginger, it was just complete mush, I was expecting something more like the filling of a har gow, with texture and biteyness. Nevertheless, I did appreciate that they had a vegan black bean version and I do wonder if the pork and chicken flavours are also texturally the same.

Zagyoza on Urbanspoon

Pasar Malam

DSC09704

This was hands down by far my favourite stall from the Night Noodle Markets. Everything I had from here was delicious. I guess it could be a combination of a couple of things. 1. I like Malaysian food quite a bit. 2. I don’t really care for Thai food much and didn’t try any of the pad thai or the likes from Thai stalls, which made up a large portion of the Night Noodle Market. Having had that said, Pasar Malam probably had the most choice compared to the other stalls at the Night Noodle Market, it offered five dishes and one drink. Most other stalls only focused on two to three things. Plus, they had a combination of savoury dishes and sweet dishes as well as a seafood dish. In hindsight, I don’t recall anyone else really serving seafood (minus the ocean’s catch gyoza which wasn’t super tasty or anything)

DSC09700

As you can see from the menu, the choices from Pasar Malam are probably the most modern and hipster of the Night Noodle Market. Most of the other stalls that were selling real food, that is, not just skewers and had lots of full on stir fry dishes, which I’m personally not a massive fan of since they just fill me up needlessly. I’ve got to try as much as I can and getting full is just one of the most depressing things ever. Here at Pasar Malam they instead offered a selection of snacky foods like deep fried chicken skins, delicious chicken drumsticks, and a soft shell crab dish. There were also two sweet treaties, including deep fried bread with condensed milk and sweet potato balls. Finally, they also had a longan and Ribena drink.

I pretty much ended up sampling Pasar Malam’s whole menu!

DSC09732

First up, the Chilli soft shell crab ($14), this included half a soft shell crab with two pieces of deep fried bread. Since I was keen to try the mantou dessert as well, which is pretty much the deep fried bread served with condensed milk. I asked if I could have the bread that came with my soft shell crab to be served with considered milk and they were more than happy to help out with my request. Hence, the little tub in the left back corner.

The soft shell crab itself was really delicious, it was fried perfectly, giving you that crispy soft skin while not being overly oil. The crab was covered in a sweet sauce with a slight bit of spiciness to it and bits of a white sauce which seemed to add a lot of creaminess. The rich crab flavours and sauce went really well with the deep fried bread which was dense and had a hint of sweetness to it. There was also plenty of fresh coriander, which gave the crab that strong South East Asian flavour.

I do agree this dish is a bit pricey and definitely small but I enjoyed it so much, I got it twice. I’m a glutton for punishment. And probably just a glutton.

DSC09728

We also grabbed a serve of the Nyonya chicken lollipops ($10). These are definitely not the prettiest chicken drumsticks around but they were very tasty. These were probably my favourite non skewer thing from the whole Night Noodle Market. The chicken here was really soft with plenty of moisture within it. I wasn’t really expecting these chickens to have good texture when I got them. Look at them!! They look burnt to bits and very overcooked. Nevertheless and to my completely surprise, pretty fantastic texture.

To accompany the great texture, the chicken had a lovely smoky and slightly sweet flavour to it. You could definitely tell that this had been marinated overnight, as there was a slight fruity sweetness throughout the chicken meat as well as on the fried skin. The chicken also came with a mayonnaise sauce but to be honest, I didn’t even touch it. The meat was that good on its own that I never felt the need to add to it. But I did end up dipping my deep fried chicken skin into it!

DSC09723

If you like chicken skin, this is the snack for you. Chicken crispers ($6). This is essentially deep fried chicken skin, nothing more, nothing less. Okay, maybe there is some salt or seasoning but you won’t find any meat or anything in this little treat. Yet somehow, its still super duper delicious! If you’ve ever had the deep fried chicken skins from Pappa Rich, this is pretty similar. I honestly think I prefer this one. I found it a lot more enjoyable on its own, whereas the Pappa Rich one I find gets a bit salty and I need to eat it with something else like rice or noodles. Here, I was just munching on these on its own, a bit like eating chips.

These chicken skins were awesome, they were super crispy but still soft and fatty on in the inside. The chicken skins were seasoned slightly giving them this really great meaty and savoury flavour as well. On the side, there was also this chilli sauce that didn’t really have much spice to it, rather it had a slight sweetness to it and gave the chicken skins some extra flavour and some moisture as well. As delicious as it was, pure deep fried chicken skin can get a bit much after a while, so I really appreciated the addition of this sauce.

DSC00012

For our final goodie from Pasar Malam, we grabbed the Sweet potato balls ($8). I actually had no plans to get this originally. I don’t really care for sweet potato, I much prefer taro to be honest. Plus, it was tiny and $8! But one of our friends tried it and said it was absolutely amazing, so I came back on Saturday to try it out. Boy am I glad I did. This was one of my favourite things from the whole Night Noodle Market! When I first saw them, I just assumed they were deep fried balls of actual sweet potato, pretty unappealing right. Well, they were nothing like that, instead these were glutinous balls of dough with a lovely sweet potato flavour to them. Okay, not the best description but they tasted fantastic. It was like squishy, slight chewy, sweet with this strong sweet potato taste to it. The coconut also added some texture to the sweet potato balls and some creaminess as well. Its probably not the best value for money, you only get about eight or so medium sized balls but I would definitely get this again. If you want something sweet and snacky, this is a must. MUST!!

DSC09716

Finally, the only other Asian style drink from the Night Noodle Market. the Ribena with logan ($5). This was nice. I don’t know how much I can talk about Ribena and logan to be honest, especially if you already know what these two things taste like individually. I guess I never thought about combining them myself. These things together gives you a drink that is really tasty, fruity and refreshing. The Ribena wasn’t too strong and sweet which is always a positive thing. The addition logan added bits of extra sweetness here and there. I probably won’t get this again, simply because its $5 but I still reckon its better than the sugar cane drink. Maybe I’ll just stick to water for these Night Noodle Markets, which is a bit of a shame to be honest. Asian countries have heaps of really tasty drinks like herbal jelly drink, coconut water, Vietnamese iced coffe, Thai milk tea, Calpis, lassi and heaps more. Bit sad none of these were at the markets. Maybe next year!

Pasar Malam on Urbanspoon

Spanthai

DSC09981

Finally, the Sticky rice with mango ($13) from Spanthai. Like with the drinks, this was one of the few Asian desserts available at the Night Noodle Market, outside of this there was the deep fried bread with condensed milk and sweet potato balls from Pasar Malam. I really enjoyed this dish. It was a simple dessert but one that is greatly loved by South East Asian countries. Nothing quite beats sticky rice and creamy, delicious coconut milk. I think mine may be missing a sprinkling of crushed peanuts over the sticky rice but no biggie. The sticky rice on this dished was cooked exactly how I like it. The rice was sticky but with a slight dryness on the outside for some texture and crunch. The sticky rice was covered in a creamy and slightly sweetened coconut milk sauce. Then it was paired with half a mango which brought all the flavour and tartness that this dish needed. It looks as good as it taste. Well, I think it looks great, something about contrasting colours.

Questacon

DSC09829

So this wasn’t quite a part of the Night Noodle Market but I totally reckon it deserves a mention, for pure tastiness and awesomeness. Outside of Questacon, they had a couple of different cool things going on, all within the colours, lights and lit up Enlighten theme. They had a table set up where the crew were doing different experiments and what not, then there was this table. Here they had various glow in the dark and light themed toys and what not for sale, this included things like glow in the dark hats, sparkly light up rings, hair clips and bands and other cool stuff like that. Big plus as well, most of the things on sale from Questacon were pretty reasonably price, I don’t think anything was over $10. Good for all the parents out there with kids who want cool sparkly lights!

DSC09834

But by far, the coolest thing that Questacon had on sale was the rainbow light up fairy floss ($5). For $5, you get a stick that lights up in various different colours and styles. The crew at Questacon then wrap it up with some light blue coloured fairy floss and the end result is this really awesome looking thing. Probably not going to talk much about the taste. It was at the end of the day just a standard fairy floss but with the addition of lights! Word of warning, the line for this thing was insane and this was day one, when people probably didn’t even really know about it. Oh, plus there is a line to buy the ticket for this, then there is a second line where you have to wait for it to be made. I think I spent a good 20 minutes waiting in that line to get this. But totally worth every single second. I still have the light up stick somewhere too.

DSC09790

So there you have it, pretty much all the goodies from the Enlighten Night Noodle Market. I think I did skip some of the Thai places but I’ve never been a big fan of full dishes at festivals, so do let me know how they taste! I know when I come back over the next couple of days, I’ll be aiming to get more of those delicious pork skewers from Hoy Pinoy, the rest I can probably skip, especially for $5 a pop. Other things I would definitely get again, include all the goodies from Pasar Malam but I’m biased, I’ve never been a massive fan of Thai and there were a lot of Thai stalls.

DSC09923

Oh and since its Enlighten 2015, here are some more pictures of various things lit up. It doesn’t quite feel right to just talk about food and not post a couple of pictures of the pretty lights. I’m pretty sure the lights are what the actually event is about. So here’s some lights. You’re welcome.

Eightysix, Braddon

I’ve always really liked Eightysix, small caveat that I do think their service is really um, interesting and overly friendly but hey you can’t hate someone for being too nice! I’ve been to Eightysix a couple of times for dinner and tried various items from their menu and I can’t recall a single dish that I just outright disliked. Eightysix’s menus were always fresh, fun and exciting. So when I heard that Eightysix would be serving brunch on Sundays throughout October for Good Food Month, I got pretty excited. What crazy, interesting and delicious concoctions were they going to come up with in the confines of breakfast food?!

Over the four weeks of Good Food Month, I actually never managed to try it out because well, ah, I just forgot really. I’m really bad at these Good Food Month events. I was distraught, thinking that I had missed out forever on blood pudding muffins, jaffles and other goodies but alas because it was so successful Eightysix have decided to continue serving brunch on Sundays. Good news for me and for anyone else who didn’t get to try it out during Good Food Month because it’s something that all breakfast and brunch lovers should try out. Unless of course you only enjoy traditional eggs your way with toast and tomatoes for breakfast. There’s nothing wrong with that. Imagination is overrated. I kid.

The brunch menu at Eightysix is indeed interesting, cool and exciting as I had hoped for. You won’t find any of your typical breakfast or brunch items on this menu! There is no egg benedicts, bacon and egg rolls, or big breakfasts. Instead Eightysix has taken all the basic ingredients that you expect to find in a breakfast menu and completely reinvented it. It’s not only the food that is interesting, Eightysix has also mixed up some interesting concoctions for us to slurp up as well. There is of course tea from T2 and coffee from Lonsdale Street Roasters as per usual, but there are also a handful of weird and interesting drinks and shakes.

On the day we headed out to Eightysix it was completely storming and windy outside, we headed out at 11.30AM and managed to grab a seat at the bench. There was plenty of seating outside with only one brave soul daring the weather. Though I imagine on a nice day, finding a table might be a bit more of a challange, especially as more and more of Canberra learns about this place. I’m not sure when they stop serving brunch but according to Eightysix’s Facebook page, they’re open for breakfast on Sundays from 9am to 3pm.

Anyways, time to talk about the food.

Our first dish for the day was the Popcorn chicken with maple ice cream and waffles ($22). I love chicken and waffle and for ages I always complained that I couldn’t really get it anywhere in Canberra and then suddenly out of nowhere, bam there are two places now doing it as a part of their regular menu. 1. Smoque’s new store in Woden which serves American style breakfast and does a pretty awesome chicken and waffle, and other waffle varieties. 2. Now Eightysix right here in Braddon is also offering this fantastic dish. I probably won’t compare the two chicken and waffles, both have their merits, Smoque’s is a lot more American and traditional whilst Eightysix’s is really interesting and different. The one at Eightysix is a lot more expensive, and it’d be hard to compare them without value getting in the way, so I’m just going to leave this well alone.

So how are the chicken and waffles here in EightySix? Pretty fantastic. It’s not a huge serving, the chicken here is definitely “popcorn” chicken, and you get half a waffle but I guess, EightySix isn’t really a “shove a giant pile of food in front of you” kind of place as it is. The popcorn chicken was cooked perfectly with a super crispy crumbled coating on the outside while the inside remained super soft and tender. The chicken was heavily seasoned and it was really as close as you can get to KFC while keeping things classy, this wasn’t just pure breaded chicken that’s for sure. The waffles were amazing! It was really crunchy, both inside and out, and this helped it to handle all the lovely maple syrup that was drizzled over the top without going soggy.

A cool feature of this chicken and waffle was a generous sprinkling of cornflakes, and this is definitely something I’d want other places to pick up! They added some great crunchy texture and sweetness that went so well with the globs of maple ice cream and syrup.  This was a great little dish to start with, couldn’t have gone better!

Next up, the Black pudding and egg muffin ($14). A fascinating take on an old classic. Instead of your typical bacon and egg muffin here you get some delicious black pudding. For anyone who is unsure of what black pudding or blood sausage is, it’s essentially a sausage with a little bit (or a lot) of blood mix into it but don’t let that freak you out or get squeamish it’s actually absolutely delicious. I know, next I’ll be saying, “hey everyone eat monkey brains they’re delicious!” Seriously though, blood is actually fantastic, and I implore you all to eat it.

Now this could be a bit of a biased view here, because I’m a huge blood pudding fiend that likes anything pudding, but the blood pudding here was absolutely amazing! It’s a wonderful addition to this tried and true concept and really gave this old classic a whole new dimension.  It’s really hard to describe the flavour of blood pudding, it’s like a traditional pork sausage, with just a lot of spices and a tinge of sourness to it. The muffin was soft with some nice butteriness to it, not too much to make it too brioche like but just enough to make it enjoyable. There were also some greens for some freshness and some thinly sliced red onions. A fantastic part of this dish was the fried egg! It’s weird to be saying that because egg is kind of eh, but there was something about how thick and nice this was that made me want more and more. The egg yolk was cooked entirely through (though I think that was on purpose) and I would’ve preferred it runny, but can’t argue with the chef here.

I think I like this whole idea of replacing bacon with blood pudding, it truly is delicious. Someone should make a “double” using blood pudding, two slices of blood pudding with an egg in the middle of it. I’d eat that.

Finally, a Duck bun with pickled cucumber ($8). This duck bun was really enjoyable, unfortunately when this came out, it was just about the time when we realised that we probably ordered a bit too much. Like everything on Eightysix’s brunches menu this was a take on a traditional favourite. It takes elements on the pork bao that you expect to find at places like Ippudo etc. in Sydney and Melbourne and then adds it’s own EightySix spin to it.

The duck meat here wasn’t a standard “duck pancake” style duck (which would’ve annoyed me, because you always get barely any duck in those things) it was instead shredded up and full of flavour. It was actually quite salty but worked well with the super soft and slightly sweet bun.

A lot of the time, for those pork bao’s I feel like the bun itself takes away from the whole dish, because it just overpowers the fairly delicate pork flavours, so the saltiness of the duck really helped offset that. I actually really liked the bun, its like a little different to your typical bun, it also a lot softer and a little thinner as well, so that further enhanced the flavour of the duck itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if this bun was made in house, that or Eightysix completely over steamed it, I’m hoping it was the former, though in hindsight, I guess it doesn’t really matter, it was fantastic!

The strong flavours of the duck combined with the soft sweetness of the bao was the perfect match for the chilli sauce (I’m assuming Sriracha because its so ‘cool and hip’ and I think one of Eightysix’s staff also mentioned it) which added a lot of kick to these little bit size treats and a little bit of sourness for contrast from the pickled cucumber as well as some great crunch and texture. Also I must add, it was a very good amount of duck meat in our bun, which is always welcome.

We ah…kind of went a bit crazy with drinks (i.e. we got 3) so uh, get ready for some beverages! First up, we grabbed a Caramel milkshake ($7). There’s a rule that I have these days, whenever you go to a fancy mod oz cafe, you must get a milkshake, why? They’re always funky that’s why! They usually either have crazy ingredients like popcorn bubblegum surprise, or they’ll use milk from a cow that’s been meticulously manicured whilst under a waterfall of children’s tears. In either case, you kind of need to try it.

The caramel milkshake here at Eightysix was solid and delicious but it was a tiny bit of a let down, though I’d say, based on my previous cow expectation, combined with how good the food was, maybe I was just expecting a bit too much here. Based on how cool the whole food menu is, I kind of thought the drinks would be really crazy too, like The Cupping Room’s salted caramel milkshake which actually has a mound caramel popcorn onto of the shake, but alas, this is a standard caramel milkshake.

Don’t get me wrong,  as far as caramel milkshakes go, this was really fantastic! It had a really strong caramel flavour to it, with a slight bit of smokiness as well, which really gave it an interesting edge. The shake was super creamy and sweet but not overwhelming. It was a really solid classic milkshake, so good stuff.

Couldn’t say no to some complementary Berocca to help us wake up! I really liked this concept, it’s not complementary in the traditional sense but it is free. I guess pretty much, you don’t just get served with Berocca (and/or Nutri Grain cereal which is also free but we didn’t get any, because well, cereal) when you are seated, those items are listed on the menu as free and when you order it, it is indeed free, which is kind of cool! Any of you people out there who share meals with people, but always feel the need to try and ensure you get more than 50% of the food don’t really need to do that sort of stuff here! Just order Nutri Grain and Berocca!

At first we kind of hesitated but after ordering our food we figured what the hell, this is a cool concept, we’ll get a cup. A couple minutes after speaking to the staff at Eightysix, our cup came out with a fizzing Berocca on the bottom, you can kind of see it there in the bottom of the picture. Anyways, I don’t think I’ll actually talk about how Berocca tastes, I imagine its the same from cup to cup. But a really cool concept from Eightysix, and I would be ecstatic if more cafes or restaurants to started doing things like this.

Last but not least, the Orange, passionfruit and elderflower cooler ($8). This was a very strong wake me up drink though I’m not sure it was supposed to be. The passionfruit really came through in this drink, there was no doubt about it that this drink contained passionfruit whatsoever, you don’t even need a descriptor. I guess what I’m trying to say here is, the passionfruit was pretty strong.

With all things passionfruit, this drink did have quite a bit of sourness to it. The orange was sutble with its flavour coming through as a nice aftertaste. I should mention, I don’t know if I tasted any elderflower in this but elderflower is a much milder flavour so I can see the passionfruit and orange completely overwhelming it. Nevertheless, it was still a tasty and refreshing drink. This would be absolutely great for the warmer weather that we are having, that we somehow didn’t have on this particular day. Munching on some trout salad, sitting in Eightysix’s outdoors sitting area and sipping on this, its like you’re at the beach right in the heart of Canberra. It is sour though. Really sour.

This was an awesomely amazing brunch at Eightysix, so far I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had here, I absolutely cannot wait to come back in the near future to try out some of Eightysix’s other goodies including the hot dog, salmon carpaccio, bolognese jaffle and more! In hindsight I’m probably going to have to come back 2 or 3 more times to sort all those out. I’m so glad Eightysix has decided to experiment with breakfast and kept it going because I’m really loving this fun and experimental take on traditional breakfast and brunch goodies. I imagine Eightysix being the hip and cool place it is will change this menu from time to time, so if anything on their current menu excites or intrigues you, definitely check it out before they change it up.

I’ve attached a copy of Eightysix’s current food and drinks brunch menu here for anyone who is interested.

Eightysix brunch food menu 

Eightysix brunch drink menu

Eightysix on Urbanspoon