The intermingling smells of lemongrass, Annis, cumin, and lime reach me before Hyde Park North even comes into full view. I’m fresh off my late lunch interview with Mel from The Mellyboo Project and my stomach is full of crocodile pizza and good beer, but it growls appreciatively at the feast of flavors it imagines are right around the corner.
Hyde Park, normally reserved for picnickers and dog walkers, has been transformed into a bustling street market for the annual Night Noodle Markets. Chinese lanterns strung between trees sway gently in the warm October breeze and the murmur of a growing crowd accompanies the rattling of cutlery, the sibilant sizzle of woks, and the distant sounds of a city winding down after another busy working day.
For two weeks every October the Night Noodle Markets turn the usually quiet park into an old time market square as restaurants from all over the city representing cultures from all over the world gather to celebrate Sydney’s diversity and promote their cuisine. From the big names such as Chat Thai down to the often overlooked hole in the wall restaurants – they’re all on display here as Sydney locals turn out to sample the best the Asian community has to offer.
It’s all a part of the larger Sydney International Food Festival – which also brings world renowned chefs to the city for a series of masterclasses and encourages Sydneysiders to get out and sample from the rich tapestry of foods that Sydney has on offer. While the Night Noodle Markets focus on promoting the city’s Asian cultures, anybody who has been to the city will be well aware of the broad variety we have to choose from. Whether it’s a humble Lebanese kebab, some rich Spanish tapas, or some chilled Russian borscht, Sydney is a treat for anybody with a taste for fine food. And the Sydney International Food Festival is a celebration of that.
My poor stomach took a beating earlier in the day as I interviewed Mel for my second Bite with a Blogger segment. That’ll go up just as soon as the lovely lass gets her answers to me.
Even as my eyes and nose were assaulted with all of the options on display, I took a moment to take in the whole festival while my friends Anthony (from the Art of Conversations), Nicole, Dave, and Steph (an upcoming guest blogger on this site) went off in search of tasty treats.
While Magro went off in search of healthy food and found the intriguing salad pictured above, Steph and Dave came back with the foods more commonly associated with our neighbors to the north – lots of noodles, meat, and spring rolls just begging to be devoured.
There’s a great community feeling about the whole affair. When the limited number of tables and chair on hand are snapped up, people simple settle down on the soft grass beside friends or family to share an evening picnic. Kids rush about giggling and dodging diners while their parents pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy the increasing beauty of the city skyline as the horizon turns purple and the lights of skyscrapers blink on to compliment the stars appearing overhead.
Sydney has turned on a pleasantly warm evening and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable fare as diners go back for seconds or thirds. There are far too many stalls on offer to sample everything the market has to offer in one evening – but between the five of us we tried to sample as much as we could.
With bellies full and bed times approaching, my party begin to make their way home. This left my camera and I with some time to capture a few shots of the festivities. While the Night Noodle Markets are primarily about the food, there’s a lot of great people watching opportunities as well. Here’s just a few shots I snapped during the course of my evening.
At the end of the day I could write pages about the fantastic food on display and the atmosphere at the festival, but I think the pictures above are going to do a better job than I ever could. Get out there and see Sydney’s multicultural side and treat yourself to some delicious food while you’re at it.
While I had a great time at the Night Noodle Markets and would recommend it to anybody, I will give two warnings about the affair:
- Lines can get pretty long. Get there early if you don’t want to wait too long and don’t want to sit on the grass.
- Prices run a tad high. A meal will set you back about $12-$16.
That being said, I had a very good feed and a great time for $30 last night. It’s a bit more than I’d usually pay, but the atmosphere and the selection make it worthwhile in my eyes.