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By November 29, 2014 , , , , , ,

During the week, my sister and I had the pleasure of spending a lovely evening at the Night Noodle Markets that is taking Melbourne by a storm, courtesy of Cathay Pacific. Well, the event is free entry, but we were invited to an informal gathering with the lovely people of Cathay Pacific to celebrate their partnership with the Good Food Month Melbourne.

Their festive-looking tent was situated strategically around the corner of Chin Chin, Kong and Gelato Messina, possibly the biggest draws of the festival. Not only is their position strategic, but it featured a digital screen with footage of night markets from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo, aimed at creating an immersive experience for the market-goers. Coming from Malaysia with our own version of night market, watching those footage made me feel that I was right at home. 

Not to mention that we were fed with some delicious curry chicken and curry pork from Longrain, along with a vast selection of beverages, which quite about completed our childhood pasar malam (Malaysian native language for night market) experience. The generous serving of the food was perfect to warm us up on the cold night. We met the lovely Franziska, Marketing Manager of Cathay Pacific Australia, who shared the intricate planning that went behind creating the campaign, and I must say, the result was impressive!

Melbourne makes the perfect backdrop for anything! #beautifulmelbourne
After the gathering wind down, my sister and I explored the markets. I made a list of must-haves prior to the event (in an Excel spreadsheet too!) but we were too full from Longrain's deliciousness that we skipped about half of them. Fuelled by a sense of nostalgia, we sought comfort from some Malaysian street food:

Chicken Satay from Roti Road

Loh Bak from Pasar Malam

Muah Chee from Pasar Malam. It is similar to the Japanese mochi, except instead of filling, it is glutinous rice balls covered in peanut or sesame and sugar. The teochew snack is popular in Malaysia and Singapore. The word muah chee is a homonym for "lots of money" in the teochew dialect and is traditionally an auspicious dish. 
Perhaps our taste buds were spoilt from years of indulging in local Malaysian fare, but the street food was quite average to say the least, with the Loh Bak veering towards the sweeter Taiwanese version rather than the salty version more commonly found in Malaysia. The satay was quite dry too. The muah chee lack crunch and sweetness in both the black sesame and peanut version. The glutinous rice base tasted flat rather than the slightly chewy texture that my palate is used to. Maybe I am just being a typical teochew woman complaining about everything, but the muah chee is a teochew snack afterall and one that I have been eating since before I teethed.

After a slightly disappointing start, we decided to explore the other sections of the market. With over 50 stalls, surely there has to be some stalls with great food. Afterall, Longrain did not disappoint.

Sure enough, Part 2 of our Night Market experience improved with this soft, fluffy Nai Huang Bao from Wonderbao. It was like biting into a cloud of fluffiness that melts in your mouth. The custard filling was fragrant without being too overpowering. It was a sophisticated delivery. *thumbs up

It was at that point that we wished we were cows with six stomach, so we could eat more. So we took a walk around the market, hoping that some movements would eventually help create some extra stomach space for more food. 

I must say that when Melbourne does night market, it does with style and panache. Just look around in the market precinct and you will find that even the partners' tents were decked out in style:

But I think the tent that takes home the cake is Mercedes-Benz' wooden, criss-cross, half Faberge Egg tent. It is luxurious with digital screens showing its products, and even a couple of display cars. It sort of reminds me of the Beijing Olympic/National Stadium, Bird's Nest.

Although it was a cold and windy night, the Market still drew many foodies out. It is truly an event that attracts everyone, from students to office workers and families. Even our furry friends wanted to be a part of it too.

Some of the big perks of a night market are: You can sample so many different types of food and you don't have to be stationery or be seated in the same spot at all times. I love that you're allowed to move around freely. After stuffing our faces with the truly Wonderful bao (see what I did there?), we saw Hammer and Tong's stall and could not resist one of their soft shell crab burger.

Granted that it was my first time trying a soft shell crab burger, but gosh, it was probably one of the best dishes I had throughout the night. The soft and sweet brioche bun balanced out the crunchy and greasiness (in a good way) soft shell crab. The cabbage salad provided some freshness and kewpie mayo is just great on anything.

To round up an amazing Wednesday night out, we just had to stop by Messina Gelato. They had concocted four special flavours or combination just for the festival and we selected the Bangkok Holla, which consisted of: Pandan and Coconut Sorbet, Pineapple and Lemongrass mousse, Kaffir Lime Sponge and topped with a Chilli Coconut Cookie. Every little spoonful of this precious gelato was like a trip to the beautiful country, and that was despite the chilly wind blasting through the night.

With our belly satisfied and spoilt by the beautiful food the Night Noodle Markets had to offer, we started to head back home, but not before taking a walk in the Lantern Garden. I have no idea why Asian = lantern, especially when red lanterns are usually only used as decorations during the festive months of Chinese New Year and Mooncake festival. But they were indeed pretty against the city backdrop, so I will take that.

Melbourne was beautiful and smelled great, with lights, coals and smoke lighting up the night sky. While we couldn't sample all the food that was there (and especially missed out on Chin Chin and Kong - they were sold out at 9pm!), we had a really enjoyable time.

A big special thank you goes out to Cathay Pacific Australia for hosting my sister and I. They are running a competition at the moment where you can win 2 tickets to your favourite Asian destination. See here for details. 

The Night Noodle Markets will conclude this Sunday, 30 November. It is truly something to be experienced, so don't miss out! All dishes are between $5 to $15 and seeing as we have a few warm evenings coming up, it will be the perfect time and place to catch up with friends and family over some good food.

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