You would not believe your eyes
It was like ten million fireflies
Lit up the park as I went to eat...
Annoying song parodies aside, I joined some colleagues at the Crave SIFF annual Night Noodle Markets on Thursday.
Thirteen years ago you would’ve rushed past the few scattered stalls in front of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in fear they were trying to lure passerby’s to join an impressionism appreciation club. Today though, it’s hard to ignore. The Hyde Park pathways are lined with glowing red lanterns and adorned with giant stars and moons. There are hundreds of people among the 40 food stalls, 3 bars, 1 beer garden and not a partridge, but fairy lights in a fig tree. There is live entertainment and a dancing Chinese lion weaves around delighted children, grandparents, couples and dogs whom I suspect will develop inferiority complexes.
We arrived at about 6pm and all the tables were already occupied. We had ladies in skirts and heels among us so we stalked a table of suits that were already onto dessert. While the boys guarded our seats, the girls explored the park to see what we could scavenge. Most stalls are Thai, Malaysian, Chinese and Japanese but whichever you choose, you can’t escape a long queue. Ding Tai Fung and Shanghai Express had chefs behind clear plastic screens and mouth-masks, creating production lines of dumplings with bullet-fast hands.
I’ve read lot of feedback from people disappointed in the lack of Asian authenticity with the Westernised influence on foods and flavours. I’ve also heard that the name ‘noodle markets’ is misleading because first-timers arrive expecting, well, just noodles. While these are both valid points, I feel they miss the point. I’m afraid the only place you’ll find an ‘authentic Asian hawker market’ is actually in Asia. This event that drew 120,000 people last year is about embracing culture and enjoying unique spring alfresco dining. It’s about relaxing with food, friends and family. It might not be perfect food but it is good food... and hopefully good company too. Besides, “Night Noodle, Dim Sim and other Asian-Influenced-Food Markets” is just not as catchy.
I made the rookie blogger error of not recording how much or where we bought our food from... my apologies, friends and foodies: lesson learnt. I can say though that I found the BBQ pork buns a little too dry but I loved the creamy peanut richness of the satay skewers. The dim sum were great- the pork still fresh and juicy with sweet bursts from the corn. I will endeavour to include more detailed dish information in the future but I hope my post has somewhat captured the lovely ambiance of the night and not just got that Firefly song stuck in your head too.
Here are a few other lessons learned along the way:
Night Noodle Market DO’s
- Bring a picnic mat as a table can be hard to find
- Soak in the atmosphere. Feel the noodle love!
- Have a walk around the park before ordering to scope out all your options
- Arrive early to avoid long-er queues
- Have cash on hand (otherwise there's a mobile Citibank ATM on site)
Night Noodle Market DONT’s
- Wear heels unless you don’t mind the sinking sensation through the soggy ground
- Be afraid to share a table with strangers- sharing is caring!
- Be impatient. Everyone starts at the back of the line
To check our a list of partipating restaurants and stalls with a map of the Night Noodle Markets click here
The 2010 SIFF Night Noodle Markets are held in Hyde Park, near the Archibald Fountain, until October 22 on weekdays from 5 - 9.30pm rain, hail or shine.