In the previous episode, I had covered the normal Queen Victoria Market on a normal market trading day. However, if you are in town in the winter season, you are definitely in for a surprise and special treat. Only opened on Wednesdays in the couple few months, it is a highly popular event in town, with many of the locals flocking to it, besides great food and vibes they would also socialise it with the warm ambience inside. Seemingly in the quiet city at night where all the shops and stores are closed, down in that shed of the market the noise never stops, accompanied with it, the smell of food! Given that Melbourne is a cosmopolitan with people from all over the world, the stalls were the same, there was food from all over the place, from Italian to Asian fusion food with bao replacing the burgers. A show case of the hospitality of Melburnians and the expats community the market is open from from July to August from evening till late. Dates may also change in accordance to each season.
Don’t border coming here just to look through the unique stalls after dinner or taking a walk. In fact, come here for an experience, socialise with the food and also do some retail therapy at the stalls. With food on your hand and eyes on the stalls. It is a luxury and something really relaxing. The vibes are really so great here. For the Singaporeans, it is something like the Paser Malam that we have in our neighbourhood, only more upscale and better ambience, even the colder weather makes it much more enjoyable. It was really unexpected, the crowd, the food, the atmosphere. It is absolute packed, each stall had queues, a minimum of at least 15 to 20 mins each. If you asked me which is the most popular stalls, probably all of them. With food and shopping, the next thing on your mind definitely is entertainment. Notwithstanding all the cooking performance that all the stalls have, and it is really a delight to see them cook, there is also a live band with singing to keep you accompanied. If you would like to try all of the unique stalls, I’m sorry, you probably have to visit a couple more time. As mentioned, it’s an international scene, with almost a stall each from the major ethnic groups and cuisine. One of the most unique and puzzling stall to me was one that sells Ethiopian food! Spoilers aheah, I didn’t try them! Of course, liquor content can’t be lacking too! In the middle of the shed you can find counters selling wine and beers from Australia! Definitely!
The market also features some of the most hype and in fashion cooking, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel pasta on show and also the fried churros bowl with ice cream, both of them had long queues to match their hype. The first stall that caught my eye was the Spanish one, this in fact was also the one which had the best cooking performance. You could see them with those long flat paella dish cooking all sort of Spanish and Moroccan inspired food. They were just whipping out pans and pans of seafood stew, prawns aioli and also grilled chicken. Perhaps it is Spanish cuisine from the south, maybe a tat more of those that you would find in Malaga and Granada.
I got myself one of the Seafood Stew which comes in a little bread bowl of their own. It is absolutely scrumptious and I just couldn’t resist myself. The stock was flavourful and the mussels, clams, prawns and fish that came with it was fresh as well, dunking the bread and making it soggy with the stew was delish. However the portion is a little stingy and it’s pricey, costing about 12 – 15 AUD!!!
The idea here is to come in a group and then you share the food, this way you get to try more food from different stalls. With that pitiful serving, my next course was some good old Fish & Chips from The Fish CO-OP! After all Melbourne is famous for it’s fish and chips and I am really interested to find out how it taste like right from the locals whom probably do it best. What i really find unique was this smoked salmon that they are preparing on the spot, they actually utilise the heat and smoke to cook the salmon, it look really flavourful and delicious. The chef nail the whole fillet of salmon to a wooden plank then angled it down against the charcoal pit to cook it. It is actually a cedar glazed salmon and they flake it to sandwiched it between a brioche roll which they warm right beside the salmon with the charcoal.
I got the classic Fish & Fries costing 15 Bucks, again it is not cheap. Their version was using a stout batter to coat the barramundi fish, it came with a blanket of fries and also homemade mayo. although they advertise as using Australian Barramundi, it is probably farmed one as the fish actually had a river taste. Although I have to say that the batter and the fries was really good as the batter really kept to the fish and were really crispy.
I even pass by a stall that serve up authentic Australian food, with kangaroo, emu and even crocodile on the grill, it is really an eye opener! My final stall that I went to here served Cypriot food, it is my very first time trying it, I hadn’t had Cypriot food before! This store also had the longest queue, the golden tip right, when in doubt always look out for the longest queue! The Cypriot Kitchen had many of their meats marinated with many spices. Being influenced by the Turks and Greeks, they had a distinctive usage of spices and also a little on the many breads and pita bread, yogurt. Seeing that racks of chicken being roasted over the charcoal pit, I just got to try the Chicken Soulva!
This is actually more worth it even though it is 12 AUD as the portion is really huge, the grilled marinated chicken thigh came in a pita bread and also a bed of grain salad, notwithstanding the yogurt sauce that give it some moisture. The chicken was well grilled, juicy succulent and just a little char on the exterior. However, it may be a little too heavy for someone who aren’t used to the middle eastern flavours and spices which may be a deterring factor. I really the grain salad as well, given that it is my very first time having it. it is cold, with a vinaigrette and just the bites of it with the herbs, it matches very well with the Chicken Sulva. Given that you will just be biting into that hot flamed grilled chicken the yogurt sauce will provide some easing on those heat.
That actually sums up the majority of the food stall that I went to in the Winter Night Market, I would say that the majority of the stalls here are those selling food and most of them come here to have a nice evening with their family and friends over pipping hot food too. Oh correction, I did actually had one last item before leaving the market! Which was the churros bowl ice cream! It had an amazing long queue although it was super fast with a nice efficient work plan in serving them, basically one was frying, one was coating it with cinnamon sugar and the other two are scooping ice cream and chocolate sauce. 10 bucks each, it is super good business. Perhaps a little over hyped with all the internet going crazy, it is actually nice, but nothing special.
Speaking about the other stalls in the market, there were clothes, handiwork, I especially love one of them that sells this wooden product with hand craving made on the spot for you, allowing customisation, it is really beautiful! Although it had prices to match too. Accompanying the crowd were these mood lighting that filled the rood of the shed, in purple or blue, it is really awesome and add on to the vibes of the whole event. Overall I feel that it is more of an gourmet night market and social event with restaurant prices. It is more for the experience itself. Transportation is easy! It is within walking distance from the city and also a tram stop right outside. The stores here are really racking up good money given my views, with the prices and the crowd.
This is definitely a hot spot in Melbourne if you are here in the cold months and never a miss if not you will definitely regret. Enjoy the crowd and the crowd is also one of the reason why it is so great! Stay tune for the next post to come where I would be talking about another unique cafe in town, Krimper Cafe.