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Published November 25th 2012
8 Favourite Foods @ Suzuki Night Market
Since its inception in 1998, the Suzuki Night Market co-hosted by Suzuki and the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) has become a Melbourne weeknight summer tradition with more than 20,000 locals and tourists flocking to this seasonal event every Wednesday from November to February.
After reading dozens of generic online description about the Suzuki Night Market, which are largely rehashed versions of the info from QVM, I decided to spend several hours at the event and hopefully provide readers with some insight into the busiest and most frequented section of the Market - the hawker stalls.
There are too many food choices on offer including Asian, Middle Eastern, European and Australian. Here are the 8 favourite foods in the Suzuki Night Market based on the longest customer queues I'd witnessed during my visit.
Barbequed and Grilled Meats
There was no lack of barbequed meats at the Suzuki Night Market by the evidence of the smoke, queues and plates and after plates of the beef, lamb and sausages. I was starting to miss the mini mixed grill at Alexandra House in Hamilton.
Señor BBQ was the best advertisement of Argentinian meats sizzling on beds of charcoal with the open kitchen and endless clouds of cook-smoke laden with the scent of juicy beef ribs, chicken wings and chorizo. Then there's the Chimichurri sauce of garlic, parsley, oregano, vinegar, olive oil, black pepper, lemon and cumin.
Not sure about the sale of empanadas but the queue and constant resupply of chorizo sausages on the grill was testimony of customers' demand for the AUD7 rolls filled with generous sized chorizos from La Morenita Latin Cuisine based in North Sunshine, which offered Latino food and wines.
Then there's the rush for a share of an American-styled barbeque pork ribs which I visited at the Luna event. It was a challenge to get my hands on the pork whether they were on the ribs or shredded and filled into a bun.
Save for the colours of Spain and a smattering of espanol, there was a Spanish food invasion thanks in part to the Spanish Gourmet Caterers, a Melbourne based catering company specializing in traditional Spanish dishes.
There was no mistaking the large quantities of orange coloured paella with meat and seafood being cooked in large pans and in the hands of customers jubilant with their steamy, hot and seemingly delicious reward after a long wait at both stalls.
Another sight that coloured the Suzuki Night Market was the rich burgundy red Spanish wine punch from Running Sangria in the hands of every other visitor. The queue was impossible as customers adopted the merchant's advice and were running around with Spain's national drink and turning the event into a Sangria Night Market.
The Deep-fried Stuff
Mr Calamaro - The Fine Fryer Guys, which made its season premiere in the Suzuki Night Market seemed to be doing well. The father and son team were keep extremely busy trying to fill customer orders for their Bocadillo of calamari, aioli, quindillas peppers, fresh parsley and lemon in a freshly baked roll.
The freshly spiral cut, skewered, battered, and fried potatoes from Original Korean Twist Potato was one food item that seemed to be present in every QVM event and a crowd puller. If you thought the queue for this twisted deep-fried potato chips on a stick at the Luna event was long, the line at Suzuki Night Market was easily doubled. I'm not a big fan of this oily carbohydrate but the salty, spicy, peppery and cheesy potatoes drew the crowd.
Wood fired pizzas were flying out the oven in order to keep up with the customer queue and impatience for versions laced with familiar ingredients like salami, ham, pineapples, tiger prawns, eggplant and prosciutto.
Customers who missed Oktoberfest at the European Bier Cafe were gathering for a portion of the freshly made German gourmet sausages from Wagners Fine Foods whose owners migrated from Hamburg in Germany. Regretfully the German pork knuckles were missing.
Gozlemes, a Turkish pastry stuffed with cheese, spinach and minced lamb received a good share of the queues with live cooking demonstrations at the Gozleme Turkish Cafe and crowd-pulling costumes at the European Pastry stall. The piping hot pastry reminded me fondly of the delicious gozleme from the Borek Bakehouse.
King Chips practically dominated the cravings for seafood at the Suzuki Night Market with its wide selection including grilled calamari, prawns, mussels, oysters, octopus and half crays at AUD10 and grilled salmon at AUD12. Although they weren't the stuff of Windsor Seafoods but at least they looked tastier than those I had at Kallis' and Cicerello's in Freo.
For fans who did not get enough of the day-time hot jam doughnuts there were deep-fried dough dumplings from Continental Honey Dumplings that promised crispy shells with moist, chewy centres with the choice of honey, chocolate and ice-cream for AUD6.50 and AUD7.50.
If there's space in the tummy, you may want to get in line for the gargantuan pancakes from Monster American Pancakes. Best sellers seem to be the Strawberry Delight and Hot Chocolate Fudge but there are 6 choices loaded with cream and ice cream at AUD10 to stuff many faces.
A challenge was trying to get around the wided-eye ladies hovering before the displays of colourful macarons. At AUD3.50 each, they were "sinfully delicious" for the purse but boxes upon boxes continued to exchange hands.
Then there's Cupcakes by Paolo which is touted for offering the best cupcakes in Melbourne by some of its customers based on moistness, icing and flavour. With more than 20 flavours on sale, anyone who loves sweets may want to get in the queue.
You couldn't visit the Suzuki Night Market without having a James Boag beer in hand for AUD7.50 especially when the beer stalls were all over the venue to keep waiting times short and queues moving quickly.
Bored with beer? There was an espresso martini to keep energy and alcohol levels up. Be prepared to wait longer and be entertained by the barister-bartender as the concoctions don't appear out of a bottle.
Though some foods received much longer queues than others, they were by no means better or tastier than others that were less frequented. I think it was more a matter of customer preferences and the visual attraction of certain food versus others.
There were still customer demand for the giant meatballs from the Meatball Company, grilled pieces of crocodile, emu and kangaroo from Banjo's BBQ, Moo-Baa-Cluck's gourmet burgers, Chilli's Mexican tacos and burritos, baked schnitzel burgers from Schnitzel Republic, Nepalese cuisine and Kalamaki's Greek souvlaki. Unfortunately some foods were just slower moving on the day like the Indian curries, Caribbean dishes, Japanese takoyaki, lebanese food, Afghan kababs, Vietnamese Asian noodles and Polish food which reminded me of the perogi I had in Radio Cafe in Warsaw, Poland.
My personal favourites were the barbequed meats at Señor BBQ, paella from Spanish Gourmet Caterers and Wagners' German sausages. What are your favourite foods at the Suzuki Night Market?
My absolute favourite is Chilli's Mexican. The Chicken Quesadilla is my all time favourite. I get it every week at the market with an extra helping of guacamole and sour cream. The hot sauce is a total winner as well... really spices up my life. I even try to fit in a taco, most weeks. I literally don't eat all day so that I can fill up on Chilli's. Yuuuuummo!!!!