The first ever Canberra Night Noodle Markets are on right now as part of the Enlighten Festival. I was kindly invited, along with other Canberra food bloggers and writers, by Canberra Times Food and Wine Editor Natasha Rudra on a tour and taste of the food stalls before the markets opened. The Night Noodle Markets are based at Reconciliation Place more towards the lakeside rather than Old Parliament House side. It was a huge space and the Operations Manager of the event mentioned it is about twice as big as the Sydney Night Noodle Markets.
There are 15 food stalls available. Which is just a handful compared to the number of stalls at the Multicultural Festival. I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the number of people attending on opening night. One of my friends said that by around 8.00pm, queues were a minimum of 40 minutes long.
So here are my 5 tips to make the most of your noodley experience at the Night Noodle Markets:
- Get there early. The markets open at 4pm on Saturday and Sunday nights, and 5pm Monday to Friday nights. Yes get to the entrance by those times to get in first. It means less wait time in the queues! If you do get there early, I recommend applying some sunscreen, wear a hat and sunnies as it’s quite hot in the sun with not much shade available.
- Go with a few friends to make it more fun. Friends can also help secure a table, increase food options by sharing and make it not seem like you’re queuing the entire time. Sure you’re catching up in the queue but its more fun.
- Strategise and set your target. Of the 15 stalls listed here, plan for which ones you want to visit that night. If price is an important factor, quickly take photos of the menu and prices to help you keep track of what you want to buy. Remember the markets are on for 10 nights (9 nights left!) so you can eat at two or three per night if you plan to go all week. Alternatively, if you are with a small group of friends – divide and conquer. E.g. Two people line up for one stall, another two at another stall etc, order enough for everyone and then meet at a predetermined spot to share your bounty.
- Have dessert first. A lot of people are interested in N2 Extreme Gelato and seeing their ice cream made in front of their eyes using liquid nitrogen. Many save dessert for last but with the crowds I saw last night, this might not be the best move. Why not have dessert first? Since gates open at 4pm this weekend, you could head directly to the N2 stall first as it’s still technically afternoon tea time right? Life’s too short, eat dessert first!
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. The markets are set on the lawns which can be uneven in certain spots. When it gets dark and you’ve had one too many, comfy shoes will be worthwhile. Plus you can then walk around to see the light projections and other activities as part of Enlighten.
Now for some food shots. On our tour, we met the owner and chef of Canberra’s Thirst Thai Restaurant and Wine Bar making their debut at a market event.
Next we got to try the meat skewers from Daniel San of Manly Beach. These come in Chick, chick boom chicken yakitori or Mr Miyagi sticky pork and maple glaze pork. These giant skewers are $6 each or 2 for $10.
We got to meet Mork’s mum of Mork’s Restaurant on the Kingston Foreshore, who described the family’s boat noodle soup recipe being made at the stall. A much darker broth than pho is used for this one-off dish at the markets.
You can get this two ways – dry or in a rich broth (pictured). The broth is served in a large soup cup and we sampled the sliced beef, crackling, beef balls, tripe and of course noodles. I didn’t have too much of this as it was such a hot afternoon. But I might get a cup to myself later in the week if it cools down.
Pork belly and chicken skewers are available – the pork belly is covered with banana ketchup glaze and the chicken in a soy/cane sugar glaze. The charcoal only enhances the amazing flavour. Delicious! I believe it’s two skewers for $10. I’m still salivating at the thought of these. Will definitely be going back for more. Highly recommended!
Next we got to try N2 Extreme Gelato. I’ve tried this in Sydney where you get to watch your gelato being made in front of you using liquid nitrogen. This was no different and those at the front will be able to see the nitrogen vaporise as it hits the mixing bowls.
There are only two flavours available both for $8. The Ferrero Reveal has nutella gelato, crushed hazelnuts, crunchy rice bubble choc top and a warm chocolate ganache syringe. The Brokeback Moment has vanilla gelato with layers of honeycomb bites, honeycomb choc top and a warm caramel syringe. I enthusiastically over-injected and spilled over the side of the cup oops.
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