The Night Noodle Markets have been a favourite event in the Flatman calendar ever since they launched in Melbourne four years ago. In fact, the bartender and I even scheduled a mini getaway up to Sydney in October so that we would be in town for the Sydney Night Noodle Markets (which were incredible!). With all the sights, sounds and smells of an Asian hawker market plus the buzz, hype and vibe of a huge outdoor festival, it's definitely a must-do.
Attracting over one million people since 2013, this year was our second time taking the poppets and I must say that although it’s quite a different experience than it was pre-twins, we absolutely love sharing this event with them. I think that it definitely helps that we have two #minimelbournefoodies in tow!
Here are some of our highlights and tips for visiting the markets with little ones:
- The markets are completely CASH FREE. Meaning that you simply use your bank card of choice to tap, swipe or insert to make your payment.
- Get there early when the gates open at 5pm Monday to Friday or at 4pm Saturday and Sunday. You will find it easier to find somewhere to sit and most importantly you won't need to wait in queues for as long.
- Do your homework before you arrive. Visit the website to view the full Melbourne Night Noodle Markets menu. Make a list of the top stall holders or menu items that you wish to try (we find that five or six works well for us) and locate them on the map online. Save the map to your phone so you can refer to it straight away when you arrive.
- Pack a picnic rug, snacks and drinks. There's nothing worse then waiting in line with a hungry toddler!
- The markets are separated into three main areas in and above Birrarung Marr. Access to the upper terrace is accessible via either two sets of stairs or across the footbridge (which is the only pram friendly option).
- We visited Filipino BBQ experts, Hoy Pinoy first (they actually have two stalls this year due to their popularity). Their juicy, flame-grilled chicken skewers are out of this world. What’s best you get two for $12 so there was no fighting from the poppets who were eager to wrap their mouth around these gigantic sticks of goodness.
- After our introduction to loaded fries at the Sydney Night Noodle Markets, the bartender was eager to sample Bao Stop’s renowned peking duck fries. Crispy golden fries topped with shredded peking duck, smothered in Bao Stop’s peking sauce and finished with spring onion. The verdict was clear, they were sensational. Arlo even decided to try them too, although I think that the duck was a little rich for him – he did enjoy tucking into the sauce-laden chips! The trifecta of bao were very moorish too!
- Mr. Miyagi is another local cult stallholder and with a whole new range of nori tacos being launched this year, it was no surprise that they had the longest queues that we encountered. Located on the upper terrace (right to next door to Gelato Messina, more about that below!) they provided us with a great spot to lay down our picnic rug, whilst enjoying views of the Arts Centre spire, St. Paul's Cathedral and three-legged Angel (the colourful multi-headed, three legged sculpture that sits proudly along the banks of the Yarra River).
- Do not miss out on visiting Gelato Messina. This year they’ve gone all out once more in bringing four unique creations to the markets. We’ve tried two so far – and you should too. The matcha do about nothing hand made choc top is a stand out – swirls of milk chocolate and green tea gelato, covered in white chocolate and pistachio crunch in a green tea waffle cone. The photos may indicate that Arlo shared but that wasn’t entirely the case. The fryer and ice - deep fried caramel and coconut gelato, mango pudding and drizzled passionfruit caramel – is a scrumptious option too.
- Back down the hill, mumma couldn’t go past popping over to Poklol for two of their Korean-inspired tacos. I was so excited to see that they were coming down to Melbourne as their chichi fries (loaded fries with cheese, mayo, kimchi, shallots, Korean BBQ sauce and Korean chilli pork) were my stand out dish in Sydney. The bulgogi beef tacos are amazing too - sweet sauce-marinated beef with spicy mayo and spicy kimchi. I had absolutely no problem not sharing them!
- Try Black Star Pastry’s famous strawberry watermelon cake – or even better order the strawberry watermelon gelato smash! A fusion of Black Star’s cake mixed with N2 gelato. WOW! The gold mugger - warm Nutella cookie dough mug cake, chocolate hazelnut gelato, gold dusted milk crumbs, finished with whipped cream and Nutella ganache – was also just as incredible as it sounds.
- Take advantage of the noodle markets staff that can take your drink order from the seating areas adjacent to the bars. The Pimm’s cocktails come highly recommended!
- The little ones will love playing under the fairy lights and lanterns which illuminate all three areas as well as seeing the wall of gold cats greeting you as you enter the main gates. Macy also loved talking to the giant inflatable kitty and spotting the panda characters on the temporary fencing.
- Although it can get congested in certain areas - especially close to the queues - we found the noodle markets to be really pram friendly.
- Have fun! Yes it will be busy and you will have to wait in queues but be prepared and don't have high expectations to visit too many stands or stay for longer than two-three hours.