Each Wednesday evening during summer, the boisterous sound of merriment can be heard from the sheds of Queen Victoria Market at the northern edge of the city. Coupled with the heady scent of food smells and you have Melbourne's famous Wednesday Night Market.
If you couldn't make it to the Summer Night Market in Queen Victoria Market before Christmas, don't fret. The event will continue to run on Wednesdays from 7 January through to 25 March. There's still time to grab the family and friends for an evening of fun and entertainment in the city's favourite market. Over 200 vendors have gathered with offers from jewellery to clothing, gourmet jams to plants and everything in between. There's also an area for enjoy a massage and have your fortunes read while live music play on 2 stages in the market sheds.
What's a great night market without good feed. This is undoubtedly the busiest area of the Night Market. Be prepared to be frazzle-dazzled by over 35 stalls offering a multicultural feast of Australian, Indian, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Spanish, Dutch, Middle Eastern and more, accompanied by wines and beers from fully licensed bars.
Even more frazzling are the crowds eager to be fed. Expect to wait half an hour easy at some stalls. If you're looking to feast, suggest you get there early before the main dinner crowd arrives. To help you further along, here are 12 popular food based on the longest customer queues I've had to endure or depart from during my visit. Enjoy yours and Bon Appetite!
Oysters, prawns and a glass of bubbly seems to draw the ladies and tourists. The stall is operated by George the Fishmonger which supplies the same seafood to restaurants, hotels, clubs and cafes in Melbourne since 2005. It is also at stall 35 in the Meat and Fish section of the market. Perhaps an easy way to start the evening at the Summer Night Market at 2 oysters or prawns for $5 before hitting the cooked food.
Traditional Nepalese food seemed to be the rage as an alternative to the usual Indian cuisine. The Chicken Momo or steamed Nepalese dumplings filled with minced chicken and aromatics served with homemade Nepalese tomato chutney for $5 or $10 were moving quick. So was the Chicken Sekuwa or grilled chicken fillet at $12.
This Filipino street food specialist continues to draw the crowds eager for a look at the whole pigs being roasted over hot coals. The spectators translated into long queues eager for a taste of the 'lechon' or roast pork pieces craved before their eyes for $12 a portion.
The Philly cheese steak place hailing from Richmond is kept busy with a long queue for diners waiting to grab a cheesesteak or burgersteak for $12. Ingredients are fresh and locally sourced. It may lack the stature and sloppiness back in the US but here's a tasty bite of America in the night market.
Once a less desired chicken part, the chicken wing now takes centre stage thanks to food vendors like Wing Man. They fry up some mean American buffalo-style chicken wings served mild, medium or hot. There's also the choice of Honey BBQ or Lemon & Pepper sauces. At $12 for 8 wings, there are flying out of the deep fryer and into mouths of diners at top speed.
Charcoal grilled meat with salad seem to go down well with the crowd eager for a bite of Sicilian street food. Served by Panzerotti Catering Company, you can a choice of beef, pork belly or chicken for $12.
There's no missing the larger-than-usual queue of Indians at Lankan Tucker in addition to everyone else eager for a taste of Sri Lankan street food. Founded by 2 young Australian Sri Lankans, the Coconut Roti Sliders and Kotthu Roti are tasty and affordable at $10 each. No wonder they sell out in no time.
You'll be in a queue for nothing else except a bite of the gourmet soft shell crab burger with sriracha mayo, black sesame slaw and coriander for $12. This popular night market bite is brought to you by the same folks behind the Hammer & Tong restaurant in Brunswick Street.
You can't get more Aussie bush than Banjo's BBQ. This stall specialises in bush tucker grilled to order. There's enough crocodile, camel, ostrich and kangaroo burgers to satisfy the queue of exotic taste buds. At $12 per order, they are cheaper than a trip to the Northern Territory.
This family business must be doing something right with their Hungarian strudel recipes. They are back in Queen Victoria Market and the queue is even longer. They are generous with samples and you can choose to eat at the night market or takeaway the homemade authentic Hungarian strudel.
They are not the exact Chinese buns you've tasted in Hong Kong, China or Singapore but these folks have brought the humble steamed bun of Asia and contemporised it for the masses in Melbourne. The traditional Baos filled with chicken, vegetables or egg custard go for $5 each or $12 for 3, while the Gua Baos with pork belly, battered fish or tofu are $7 each or $20 for 3.
While biscuits dominated the stall, the homemade cannoli filled with Italian cream and ricotta were moving quickly off the showcase shelf and into salivating mouths. You can also enjoy a cannoli at $3.50 each, $12 for 4, and with a short black for $6.