Friday, July 18, 2014

Brisbane Night Noodle Markets

Brisbane Night Noodle Markets

Pork curry (left), spicy chicken (middle) and coconut prawn soup (right), all from Longrain

Note: I accidentally deleted my high res photos for this post so I salvaged what I could from my Instagram feed; apologies for tiny, poor quality pics

I nearly didn't hear about this event at all. I got an e-mail from the guys at Tanqueray Gin Australia asking if I wanted to check out their stall at the Night Noodle Markets. I had no idea what that was so I Googled it and thank goodness I did. It sounded like everything I could hope for in a food event: lots of different Asian street food vendors collected into one arena. Eep! I love that kind of food. I pictured something like Eat Street Markets with a stronger focus on Asian cuisine.

We went there last night at around 7pm. The Markets are located in the QPAC forecourt, near the Wheel of Brisbane. If you haven't been yet, they stay open until the 27th of July.

I was initially worried we wouldn't be able to find the place but you would be really unlucky to miss it. There's a huge fenced off section with lots of lights, lanterns and buzz. Just follow the crowd!

There's no cost for admission but our bags were checked at the entrance. There are alcohol vendors within the grounds (Tanqueray being one of them) so I guess they also check to make sure you don't bring drinks back out into the public.

Tanqueray gin and tonics

I was offered a number of drinks cards so we made a beeline for the Tanqueray tent. My group contained myself and three friends so I was thrilled that we got a complimentary gin and tonic each. G and T's are one of my go-to alcoholic beverages but I haven't had Tanqueray since I was in Singapore a couple of years ago. It is so refreshing and easy to drink. Even though it was a cold night, I was perfectly happy with my G and T in hand.

Let me just advise that you shouldn't go to the Night Noodle Markets if you're absolutely starving and expect food straight away. I personally hate queues and as much as I love food, I find little worth standing and waiting over 30 minutes for. We ended up selecting the shortest queues and the wait wasn't too ridiculous but it definitely wasn't an order and instantly eat scenario.

Our first food stop was at Longrain, which I know of as a famous South-East Asian restaurant from Sydney/Melbourne. I was surprised its queue was so short, actually. Maybe no one else in Brisbane had heard of it? Hien and I ordered the coconut prawn soup, which we both agreed was too sweet. There was a good amount of prawns though. Marc's spicy chicken was decent albeit not spicy enough. My favourite of the lot was Garthritis' pork curry, which actually was spicy. (Reminder that pics for Longrain were at the top of this post)

We then lined up at Peng You, again because it seemed less busy than some of the other vendors. I had initially wanted to avoid restaurants that were physically located in Brisbane (rationale being that I could try it any day) but gave up being picky when I realised how packed the market was. My hunger was more important!

Chicken noodles from Peng you (left) and Braised Pork banh mi from Chitty Banh Banh (right)

I went for the chicken noodles instead and added a heap of chili sauce on. We also had some Peking beef wraps (forgot to photograph), which tasted a lot like Peking duck wraps, but with beef. Surprise surprise. Hien ordered the fish ball laksa from here (also forgot to photograph).

Exploding Saporo beer (left) and pistachio brittle ice-cream (right)

We made our way to the other end of the marketplace. I was getting reasonably full by now and I had seen mention of a pistachio ice-cream so I hunted for that. I was so, so cold but nothing can keep me away from ice-cream, even near death, so I braced myself and ate it. It had pistachio brittle pieces and a nice pistachio flavour that was creamy but too sweet for me.

Teriyaki chicken (left) and gyoza (right) both from ii-na Japanese

The rest of the guys got more savoury food instead. Marc and Garthritis both ordered a portion of teriyaki chicken from ii-na. Maybe it was the fact that we were frozen and the chicken was piping hot but I found this to be one of the tastiest dishes of the night. G also ordered some gyoza, of which I stole one.

Hien's final pick was the braised pork banh mi from Chitty Banh Banh (scroll up for photo). This was another one of the standout items of the night. At first I thought $10 for a banh mi was steep but it's huge and loaded. The meat is a sweet braised pork rather than the usual sliced pork. It had a really nice flavour and was so filling that Hien couldn't finish it and gave the rest to us scavengers.

We had a fun time at the Brisbane Night Noodle Markets. It was only the cold that dampened our spirits but that isn't the fault of the organizers. We ended up huddled around a heater while the boys finished their beers. I've already warned you about queues... hopefully that lessens as time goes by. One good thing is that you can order a drink and sip and queue at the same time. Just be mindful of the crowd; we witnessed one guy losing his meal to the floor when he got barged into. I would have cried!

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