Monthly Archives: February 2019

Get ready for Melbourne’s first Night Noodle Markets

1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Illustration by Joe Benke. 1. Lantern Garden and food trucks 2. Rekordelig Cider Bar 3. Citi VIP area 4. Coopers Beer Garden 5. Yalumba Festival Garden 6. Tanqueray Gin Lounge. Photo: Illustration: Joe Benke
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Smoke and sizzle, steam and spice, cooks wrangling woks and hungry night-time hordes queuing at favourite open-air stalls. It’s a scene repeated all over Asia, from Shanghai to Chiang Mai, and from next Monday we’ll see it in Melbourne.

For two weeks, Alexandra Gardens, on the banks of the Yarra, will morph into street-food central as some of Melbourne’s best-loved Asian restaurants, cafes and food trucks gather nightly to dish out everything from pad Thai to pork buns, yakitori and yellow curry, amid the buzz of bars and DJs playing music under the stars.

Joanna Savill is festival director of Good Food Month, presented by Citi. Savill says the Night Noodle Markets are a celebration of spring and Australia’s Asian food culture. ”Australians love being outside. Asian street food is our go-to comfort fare. Add in music, entertainment, bars and chill-out areas and it’s a pretty infectious combination.”

The arrival of the markets in Melbourne follows their success in Sydney, where they have been a landmark annual event since the late 1990s. ”This year in Sydney we had 43 stalls, four bars and ran across 16 nights, drawing a crowd of 295,000 people – up to 35,000 on any given night,” says Savill.

Julian Lee, an owner of the hit Mamak Malaysian restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, says the event has a ”fantastic vibe”. ”One of the reasons we decided to do it is because that’s where we started off – as a market stall.”

Theatre is a big part of street food and Mamak stalls will be no exception, with trademark freshly flipped roti stretched, folded and sizzled as patrons watch. ”Everything will be cooked on site,” says Lee.

Longrain, with hatted Thai restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne and a reputation for rigorous authenticity, is another Night Noodle Markets veteran. Co-owner Sam Christie says Longrain’s first Melbourne market menu will include dishes from Shortgrain, the group’s casual canteen-style venture in Sydney, which Christie says are good for market-style grazing. ”You might get a main from us, an entree from another stall … you’re there with friends, you compare dishes.”

The first Melbourne Night Noodle Markets will comprise about 30 stalls cooking street-food favourites from countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and the Philippines.

City hotspot Chin Chin will be there, serving noodles (pad see ew), as well as pork-and-peanut curry, a Vietnamese-style slaw with prawns and its chilli-caramel popcorn. As at the restaurant, get there early or expect to queue.

Tiny laneway eatery Wonderbao was nominated late last year by The Age Good Food Under $30 editors as ”a cool new kid on the block” and one of Melbourne’s top 10 best eats under $10. Manager Shan Lin says bao – puffy steamed, filled buns – are a classic Asian street snack, easy to carry and eat, whether they’re the plump Chinese version or the fold-over Taiwanese type ”like an Asian taco”. The Wonderbao market stall will serve several different bao, including a vegetarian bao and roast pork belly; a version that comes with cucumber, pickled carrot, daikon, hoisin, and its own fan club.

Footscray West’s Aangan Indian Restaurant will serve assorted breads, roti with meat and vegetable stuffings, grilled kebabs and fried snacks. Richmond Vietnamese restaurants I Love Pho and Thanh Phong will bring a taste of Victoria Street to the markets, while the city’s Izakaya Den will be dishing out dude-ish Japanese eats, including fried chicken and the Hihou Dog – a variation on the hotdog. Hoy Pinoy will offer Filipino flavours, including the traditional sausage known as longganisa and pork belly glazed with one of the Philippines’ favourite condiments, banana ketchup.

For those infected with food-truck fever, there’s no need to rely on luck or Twitter to locate your next rolling repast. The Night Noodle Markets offer a chance to sample five in one spot, including Bean Rollin’, Let’s Do Yum Cha, the vibrant Vietnamese fare of Lil Nom Noms and (on most nights) the Banh Mi Boys, plus Taiwanese treats – maybe spring onion pancakes and sausage with pepper sauce – from Ghost Kitchen.

There’s more Taiwanese on offer from a stall by the city’s Mr Huang Jin, including steaming, soupy xiao long bao dumplings.

Gelato Messina will have a stall churning out gelati and sorbets in Asian-inspired flavours such as coconut, peanut, mango and pandan. Sexy sundaes will include the pun-tastic En-Thai-Sing with pandan-coconut sorbet, sticky rice, fresh mango and salted coconut cream.

”Australians enjoy eating outdoors,” says Longrain’s Sam Christie. ”I think people in Melbourne have embraced that even more than in Sydney. It’s about the atmosphere and company as well as the food.”

”Getting together with friends, seeing the food cooked in front of you, eating outdoors at night – it’s part of our culture,” says Mamak’s Julian Lee. ”It’s great to see people here embracing it.”

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THE LOWDOWN

Night Noodle Markets, November 18-30. Alexandra Gardens, 1 Boathouse Drive, Melbourne. Weekdays from 5pm, weekends from 4pm. Admission free.

Why top chefs like to eat on the street

The street and market food of Asia is fast, not fancy, made to be eaten with more gusto than ceremony. Not the kind of thing to impress top restaurateurs? Far from it. Here’s why four of Victoria’s most decorated owner-chefs love heading to a night-time Asian market.

Andrew McConnell has a clutch of acclaimed restaurants and The Age Good Food Guide chef’s hats, including two this year for Fitzroy fine diner Cutler & Co. McConnell’s first food market experience was in south Thailand in 1993; his best was a recent banh mi on a Hanoi street.

“Depending on your timing and location the freshness of the food is usually incredible. To this day, sweet salty sticky rice and coconut cream in Thailand has to be my favourite and I can never go past steamed vegetable dumplings or pan-fried dumplings in Shanghai.”

Teage Ezard, of two-hat Ezard in Flinders Lane, first tried Asian market food in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. “I ate late at night with a local who took care of our ordering. We ate a huge amount for next to nothing!”

Ezard, who also co-owns Gingerboy, loves the diversity hawker markets offer in a small area. Depending on where he’s travelling, his go-to Asian street dishes are chilli mud crab, the well-loved Thai pawpaw salad som tam and “sweet sticky black rice in bamboo”.

Michael Ryan, owner-chef at two-hat Provenance in Beechworth, is known for his love and knowledge of Japanese cooking and warmly recalls cold nights in Fukuoka, which many regard as Japan’s street food capital. But when it comes to hawker food, Ryan may have left his heart in Malaysia – specifically, Penang’s capital city. “Georgetown, you have Malaysian food, Chinese food, Indian food and that wonderful fusion of all of them, Nonya, all within walking distance.”

What he likes most about hawker food is “the sense of discovery – what is around the corner, at the next stall – being out of your comfort zone, the smells, the noise”.

Geoff Lindsay earned several chef’s hats while cooking at some of Melbourne’s most exciting restaurants. As owner-chef at Elwood’s one-hat Dandelion, he regularly visits Vietnam; when he touches down in Hanoi, his arrival treat is bun cha, grilled pork and noodles.

The best thing about the food of the markets and streets? “It is everyone’s food, the food of the people, you can be with a prince or a plumber and everyone eats with gusto.”

Banh mi, dumplings, som tam and bun cha are among the dishes at Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets.On the menu

Aangan: Assorted Indian breads; roti rolls and wraps; kebabs; fried snacks.  Autorickshaw: Indian butter chicken and saffron rice; masala chai; aloo tiki chat; naan. Banh Mi Boys: Bun noodle salad, bangin’ banh mi baguette, blue cod ceviche.

Burwood Teppanyaki House: Yakitori (chicken/calamari/beef/prawn) skewers; okonomi-yaki; Japanese soft drinks.

Chin Chin: Pad see ew; tom yum poached prawns and Vietnamese coleslaw; pork and peanut curry; chilli-caramel popcorn.

Dumpling and Biriyani Rice Hut: Momo dumplings, free range chicken biriyani.

Dumplings Plus: Pan-fried, steamed and deep-fried dumplings.

Gelato Messina: Gelati, sorbets, and sundaes like Singapore Sling.

Ghost Kitchen: Spring onion pancake with optional egg, pork floss, or the lot; gua bao; Taiwanese sausage; salt-and-pepper chicken.

Grilled Calamari: Malaysian-Indonesian calamari skewers.

Hoy Pinoy: Barbecue chicken in traditional Filipino glaze; longganisa (skewered pork sausage); pork belly and banana ketchup glaze.

I Love Pho: Beef, chicken or vegetable pho; Vietnamese coleslaw, salads; lemongrass beef or pork buns; spring rolls/rice-paper rolls.

Izakaya Den: Den fried chicken; Hihou Dog; nama udon noodles with wagyu beef or tofu and wakame.

Le Bangkok: Pad Thai; pawpaw salad; fish cakes; deep-fried pork with sticky rice; golden crispy morning glory salad.

Let’s Do Yum Cha: Barbecue pork bun; pork or chicken dim sim; vegetarian dumpling; vegetarian spring roll; prawn and chive dumplings; prawn gow gee.

Lil Nom Noms: Steamed bao; banh mi slider; bun cha (rice noodle salad).

Longrain: Grilled chicken, rice noodles, coriander, yellow bean; hot-and-sour salad of pork and glass noodles, peanuts, mint and coriander; yellow curry of cauliflower, pumpkin, mustard greens and chilli

Mamak: Roti chanai; satay chicken; mee goreng.

Mini Pancakes: Mini pancakes; fresh young drinking coconuts; lemon-mint crush.

Mr Huang Jin: Pork and ginger steamed xiao long bao; pan-fried chicken and lemongrass dumplings; Taiwanese fried chicken.

Paperboy Kitchen: Chicken Vietnamese noodle salad; egg and smoked tomato noodle salad; grilled salmon noodle salad.

Pho Saigon Star: Hokkien noodle salad, Vietnamese pancakes, Viet skewers and salad.

Sambal Kampung: Fish fillet with spicy sauce; pan-fried dumplings; calamari with spicy sauce; pan-fried rice pudding.

Shallot Thai: Pad Thai; pad mee; pad see ew.

Serendipity Icecream: Assorted ice-creams.

Spanthai: Seafood saffron rice; chicken panang curry; chicken pad Thai; vegetable pad see ew; prawn fried rice; Hokkien noodles.

Thanh Phong: Vietnamese beef wrapped in betel leaf; rice-paper roll; salt squid; meatball skewers.

Wonderbao: Roast pork belly gua bao; choi bao; pork bao; chicken bao.

Drinks: There will be four bars pouring Coopers beer, Rekorderlig cider, Tanqueray gin and Yalumba wines. The only things to BYO are friends and an appetite.

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Peatsconvinced Arthur has what it takes

Nathan Peats: “We want to go well next year. It’s a big challenge.” Photo: SuppliedTwo of Parramatta’s most important signings acquainted themselves in Bali. New coach Brad Arthur and former South Sydney hooker Nathan Peats twice crossed paths at the popular holiday destination. They hit it off, which is a good thing given Peats had a get-out clause in his contract linked to the coach.
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While Peats never contemplated activating it, the 23-year-old was relieved to find they were on the same page well before the club’s first training session on a rain-soaked Richie Benaud Oval on Monday.

“He’s a good bloke with the same goals as what I have, we want to go well next year and not have another cellar-dweller kind of season,” Peats said.

“It’s a big challenge. Ricky [Stuart] was obviously the one who got me here. Those few weeks before the new coach got picked I was a bit nervous but I was never going to leave, my intentions were to stay.”

Day one of pre-season at the Eels and, everywhere you looked, there was someone with something to prove. For Peats, it’s the chance to become a starting hooker, a position he was never going to nail while playing behind Issac Luke at Redfern. Another former Rabbitoh, Chris Sandow, has one season left on his lucrative contract to prove that he has turned himself around and can do likewise for the wooden spooners.

And popular team member Ben Smith, initially earmarked as being among the “Parramatta punted”, was back for a 10th pre-season with the blue and golds.

But no man faces a bigger challenge than Arthur. A Parramatta junior, Arthur has enjoyed a rounded apprenticeship at powerhouses Melbourne and Manly, as well as a six-week caretaker stint as head coach at the Eels last year. He returns to a club unsettled on and off the field and tipped to earn a third consecutive wooden spoon.

In his favour is the bond he has already established with several senior players. Tim Mannah, for instance, would have been happy had Arthur been permanently installed after the club parted company with another Storm assistant, Stephen Kearney.

However, the captain believes Arthur’s subsequent experiences with grand finalists Manly will prove invaluable. “We know BA from when he was here a couple of years ago and we’re all stoked he’s coming back,” Mannah said.

Not all of Parramatta’s new faces were on hand. Will Hopoate is finishing up his Mormon missionary commitments, while Lee Mossop and Brenden Santi remain on World Cup duty.

Peats’ father, Geordi, a hooker for Souths and Canterbury, had no qualms about his son joining the Bulldogs’ arch rivals. “He’s sweet, as long as I’m happy, he’s happy,” Nathan Peats said.

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Toxic tackles taken down in new push

Last year it was the shoulder charge at the centre of NRL scrutiny; now the administration is set to tighten laws around the crusher and cannonball tackles before next year’s season.
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Following continuing discussions between NRL officials and the clubs over the off-season, the governing body’s head of football, Todd Greenberg, has flagged a crackdown on the two controversial tackling techniques.

While the finer details of any changes to the laws will need to be ratified by the competition committee and the ARL Commission – which will both meet next month – Greenberg revealed the third man in around the legs and the crusher tackle were seen as priorities by the clubs and the central body.

“There’s no doubt the two issues we’re looking at from our discussions with the coaches and the clubs are the cannonball and the crusher,” Greenberg said. “We’re looking at those things and we’re discussing those things. I think the crusher tackle in particular, we need to be really vigilant on that. Player welfare is at the top of our decision-making priorities. We’ve got to make sure that we continue to retain the fabric of the toughness of rugby league, but not at the detriment of the players. The crusher tackle is one of those we’re looking very closely at.”

It is believed the NRL will look at increasing the judiciary penalties for crusher tackles – whereby a defender places pressure on the ball-carrier’s head and neck using their upper body. Those who carry out dangerous cannonball tackles – spearing in at a player’s legs while he is held up by other defenders – can also expect to be punished more severely.

The NRL will not go as far as banning the third-man-in altogether as it would alter the fabric of the contest too significantly. But referees and the match review committee are likely to be especially harsh on players who attack the ball-carrier at the knee joint or below, and those who use excessive force and velocity.

Greenberg has spent much of the off-season travelling to NRL clubs, speaking with officials and coaching staff. So far he has visited 10 clubs and will meet with officials from the other six over the next fortnight.

“It’s been well worthwhile getting around to all the clubs,” he said. “That engagement has been really important, and they’ve been really clear on their views, which is great. That’s exactly how it should be.

“Between us and them . . . we went in with those [as our priorities] and they’ve been very supportive of us taking a stronger stance on crushers – the clubs and the coaches. And the third-man-in, people don’t want to see that in the game either. The NRL and the clubs . . . we’re very aligned on that.”

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Smith says complacency not a concern

Captain Cameron Smith doesn’t fear a tournament ambush despite the Kangaroos’ relatively easy successes so far.
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Having kept Fiji and Ireland tryless in back-to-back games, the Australians are preparing to play the US in what is expected to be another rout for the Kangaroos. But Smith said complacency wasn’t a concern.

“I think the staff have done a really good job with mixing up our weekly schedule with different types of training and last week they let us get to Dublin and have a couple of days there to look around and time to ourself, which was good,” Smith said. “A few of the guys’ partners are over at the moment, that’s a bit of a distraction as well.

“Every time we’ve hit the training paddock or we’ve been in a meeting watching vision on the opposition or in the gym the focus has been great, the intensity’s been great. We just need to keep that up.

“We know we’ve made the quarter-finals now, we’re coming into a quarter-final game against USA, who we haven’t seen too many of those blokes play. We’ll just approach it like we approach the first three games, with a simple game plan – a game plan we believe will help us come semi-final time.”

Australia fought from behind to win their opening pool game against England. That loss meant the English side will probably face New Zealand in the semi-finals, with the winner to face the Kangaroos.

Smith compared this Saturday’s (Sunday, midnight AEDT) game against the US as a similar proposition to their 50-0 romp against Ireland. “Without talking the USA down too much, I think it’ll be a lot similar to [the game against Ireland] but we have seen them play their first couple of games and they were pretty good,” Smith said.

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Animal may be behind road fatality

A NATIVE animal crossing the Batman Highway was behind a motorcyclist taking the evasive action that ultimately led to his death, police believe.
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The 76-year-old Launceston man was pronounced dead at the scene at Hillwood on Sunday morning.

Police believe the man had been riding behind two vehicles when the car furthest in front pulled up because of an animal crossing the highway.

The second vehicle, a four-wheel drive Suzuki, pulled over to the highway’s shoulder to avoid hitting the car in front. The rider is believed to have swerved to avoid hitting the first car but in doing so has come off his bike and slammed into the car’s rear.

The man’s bike has continued on and struck the back of the Suzuki, occupied by an interstate family including a young child.

Passing motorists stopped to provide first aid to the rider, who is yet to be identified by police, until paramedics arrived.

Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said there were no plans to charge anyone at this stage, however, the investigation was still in its infancy.

Speed and alcohol were not believed to be factors in the collision which occurred about 11.30am a kilometre from the East Tamar Highway intersection on a clear and dry day.

The death has prompted police to urge motorists to remain aware of their surroundings at all times.

Tasmanian Motorcycle Council spokesman Paul Bullock said the state’s 26th road fatality was very sad.

“He is just an innocent that got caught up in something that turned out to be tragic,” Mr Bullock said.

“It was just something he could not get out of it appears.”

Mr Bullock called on Tasmanian motorcyclists to consider enrolling in the Motorcycle Road Skills Course.

The course is offered over one day and includes a segment on riding techniques, bike control and management.

The Motor Accident Insurance Board pays for $150 of the $200 program.

Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Northern District Crash Investigators on 6336 3936 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Police at the scene of the fatality on the Batman Highway.

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