Each year I witness the Night Noodle Markets become bigger and better. They had even extended the duration of the markets being held this year compared to previous years and had opened on Saturday nights. A new feature of this years’ noodle markets were the lanterns located at the entrance to the noodle markets, hanging beautifully by day and shining bright by night. There was not one moment where the 10x10m or so area under the laterns was not filled with people trying to take pictures of the laterns or themselves with the laterns or more pictures of the laterns (which was what I repeatedly did). I admit it was a very pretty sight!
Crowded as the markets were due to its popularity and advertising, it produced a very lively atmosphere that drew in even more people into the ever-changing colour-lit section of Hyde Park. As expected, Night Noodle Markets involved large crowds, ridiculously long queues, no spare tables and sitting on the grass to eat.
The main motive for me was to try the Ramen Burger by the On Ramen stand. Sounds unusual doesn’t it? A new culinary invention where the top and bottom buns of “normal” burgers are substituted with two mounds of ramen that are fried into patty-like shapes, holding the other burger ingredients between them. After the hype that came about when the first ramen burger was sighted in America, brought about by Shimamoto, I conformed to the craze and knew I had to try it here in Sydney.
It was a good idea to get to the markets ASAP to avoid the long queues after work. I got there about 6pm (markets started at 5pm), so the waiting lines to be served weren’t too bad. Just about 20 mins wait to be served and another 15 min wait for the burger to be made. We used the 15 min food waiting time wisely by ordering for food at other stands with shorter lines.
There were a few flavours available for the ramen burger: beef, pulled pork, chicken and vegetarian. My friend and I ended up choosing the original beef ramen burger and the tenderous pork rib ramen burger to share ($12.50 each). Hands down the pork was the better of the two. The ramen was crisp, but a bit dry, and a tad hard to cut through with a plastic fork. The meat of both the burgers were a good eat though. The salad side however, consisted of a handful of watermelon cubes and a few shreds of carrot and lettuce, merely to “decorate” the ramen burger. It was a tad disappointing for the price tag. I guess the apparent lengthy time required to make the fried ramen “buns”, and the novelty of this unusual food combination had to worth something more than ordinary.
Tempted by the shorter queue at the Longrain stand, we choose some noodles to fill us up. They were both quite spicy to our surprise and couldn’t finish much of it as it was also becoming quite sickening in flavour.
We also reluctantly grabbed some gyoza, takoyaki and some chicken katsu from Mizuya stand even though I’d like to have something different than to those restaurants within walking distance from the markets. Fortunately, the chicken katsu in particular was very fulfilling for us especially after the noodles, so fulfilling that we were eating the chicken with our fingers. The chicken was extremely fresh, hot and crispy, with just enough saltiness to give it the right flavour. The three sides together were also of very affordable price.
As expected, Noodle Night Markets is an event worth visiting yearly for the atmosphere and to taste test many different restaurants in one night with your dear friends and family. However it is a bit over-priced for the food, a bit over crowded that you may not find a tablet to sit at, and much of the night may be spent in the queue for food. My tip for Noodle Night Markets would be to arrive early and choose food that are not mainstream or which you can not easily find in the same restaurants within walking distance of the markets. It may make your visit a whole lot more worthwhile!