Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get a wiggle on to last nights of Noodle Markets

I can't believe that it's that time already - the last few days of the Crave Sydney International Food Festival Night Noodle Markets in Hyde Park. From here on, it's the Sydney Food and Wine Fair (celebrating its 21st this year), Melbourne Cup celebrations and then a blur to Santa, wrapping paper and New Years.

Crave Sydney International Food Festival Night Noodle Markets at Hyde Park, Sydney
The Noodle Markets have been blessed with with clear skies for the most part this year; a pleasant change from some years prior when consecutive days have been a rainy and then muddy.

It was still a little on the chilly side the night I visited, and as ever, the smells were fabulous; the queues were long (though not too slow moving on the whole); and you had to be eagle-eyed to find a seat or indeed a spare patch of grass.

Prawn betel leaf from Nu's
There seemed to be an improved variety of stalls this year and not the over-concentration of Thai outlets like last year. Saying that, we started with a Thai appetiser from Nu's which is a restaurant in the north shore and hence a little unfamiliar to me.

I find Thai betel leaf starters just irresistable, and these featuring prawns, peanuts and lots of shredded coconut were a party of spiced, caramelly flavours. I loved how the flavours come out slowly as I chewed more and more, and only at the end did I notice the surprise chilli kick.

Stretching roti at Mamak
We had the betel leaves as we waited for our order at Mamak, and there was quite a wait. With almost everyone ordering roti and only two roti makers, Mamak boasted one of the earliest long queues, along with Din Tai Fung's dumplings.

Roti telur from Mamak
After a decent wait, we departed the Mamak stall with our order to then zoom about looking for seats. The Coopers sustainable beer garden is seriously appealing, in a more open layout than last year and with pots of herbs all round.

In addition to being relatively comfortable, there was easy access to drinks at one of the bars (decked out with banners declaring Morrisons - whoever or whatever that is); thankfully, as the Coopers Pale Ale was just the thing to tame the fiery burn of the accompanying curry sauce to the roti telur, which was little more filling with egg inside the fluffly roti layers.

Mamak usually serves their roti with two curry sauces and sambal, and this was definitely the hotter of the two usual curries while the sambal exploded with the pungent shrimpiness of belacan.

Satay chicken from Mamak
The long skewered chicken satay are a favourite of many, certainly mine, although I don't remember Mamak's satay sauce being so sweet. Nonetheless, all six sticks are polished off in minutes while raw cucumber and Spanish onion on the side are used to clean out the sauce container.

Peking duck from The Eight
Seeing someone walk by with a plate full of Peking duck sent me straight towards The Eight and Zilver stalls, which sit side by side and share the same menu (and owners). However, at a steep $5 per duck pancake, I reluctantly had to downsize my order.

But in a way, it was worth the dosh as it was near perfect, although there was more duck meat than burnished brown skin and missing shallot. The crepe was warmed soft and hoi sin sauce dripped out, just as it should, with a stick of cucumber for freshness in every bite.

Sweets from St Honore Cake Shop
It's always nice to see the newbies at Hyde Park (especially for a good cause at the Sydney Food and Wine Fair later in the month), which this year include Mamak, Longrain, St Honore Cake Shop and Pappa Roti.

They power along right next to the returnees like East Ocean, JapanCake, Din Tai Fung, Chat Thai, Jackie M Malaysian, Mizuya, New Shanghai, SpanThai and Iron Chef Chinese Restaurant.
Night Noodle Market crowds
And it baffles me every year that the Night Noodle Markets can sustain such crowds, even in its expanded form. It makes Sydney seem starved of reasonably priced events and festivals that everyone can take part in. Apparently there's nothing like noodles to bring people together, especially the CBD rat racers.

Longrain stall at Night Noodle Markets
Making a welcome addition to the Noodle Markets is two-hatted Longrain. Making them even more appealing is that their dishes are priced similarly to most other stalls; which makes Longrain excellent value or everyone else overpriced.

With four offerings for the evening, we're a little disappointed that there's a 'Sold Out' sign slapped over the wagyu beef noodle soup. That's until we reach the front where owner Sam Christie, seemingly camera-happy, pushes towards us a complimentary bowl of the soup noodle (thanks!).

Wagyu beef rice noodle soup from Longrain
A tangle of bean sprouts, chilli and coriander obscures the view initially, but beneath are thick, white rice noodles in a sweet, meaty broth that tastes like it had been going for days. Although the noodles could have been cooked a little longer, the chunks of beef were buttery soft and rivalling the soup for flavour.

Yellow curry of lamb with jasmine rice
Meanwhile, the yellow curry was pretty spectacular, bursting with the flavour of a thousand spices. Perhaps that's a slight exaggeration but we made sure every bit of that curry sauce was mopped up with the rice, while I think the tender chunks of lamb may have just edged over the beef as the winning protein.

Citibank VIP area
Citibank customers were treated to a night under the stars, or twinkling lights, with seating away from all the bustle as well as fortune cookies and the area's dedicated bar; not that the other bars were all too busy early in the week.

Noodle Markets entrance near St James Station
It's fantastic to see a lot of major Asian restaurants now participating in the event, which can't be easy for some of the smaller setups, so well done all round. The Night Noodle Markets are only on for another two nights and the weather forecast is looking promising for a bit of al fresco dining, so get a wiggle on to Hyde Park.


Lil said...

The variety of restaurants does seem to have improved!

MissPiggy said...

We're venturing here on Friday night - hubby has never been so it should be fun for him - hope everything is not all sold out.

chocolatesuze said...

awww i want betel leaves!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Haven't been able to go this year, but it's good to see more eateries taking part.

catty said...

Geez great photos from an outdoor night event!! :) I generally like the noodle markets (if I can get there before the crowds) but not sure if I will make it this year! they finish tomorrow right?? SIGH.

thang@noodlies said...

liking the look of the betel leaf a lot!

Tina said...

Hi Lil - Yes, but the queues remain...

Hi MissPiggy - Hope you and the hubby enjoyed it - must have been super busy on the last night!

Hi suze - I always want betel leaves...

Hi joey - Shame, but hopefully next Saturday's Sydney Food and Wine Fair is as good if not better!

Hi catty - Thanks! Yep, they're all done for another year now.

Hi Thang - Mmm, it tasted better than it looked...!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Haven't been for a few years and, my, it seems to have gotten so big!

Hoping to catch the Sydney Food & Wine Fair coming Sunday though =D


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...