On my last evening in Sydney I took a quick swing through the Night Noodle Markets, downtown Sydney’s own street food fair, and part of the Sydney International Food Festival. Hyde Park north, a fig-tree filled swatch of grass in this southern city’s central business district, is a prime setting for stalls selling, well, all kinds of noodles from Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as Japanese pancakes, Chinese dumplings, Turkish gozleme, peanut butter ice cream, and French chocolates (go figure).
Under the umbrella of the Crave Sydney event, a month-long celebration of food, outdoor art, and entertainment, the noodle markets are a welcome pit stop in a park that’s more frequently used as a thoroughfare for busy commuters, hangout for inebriated teens or odd bods, or place where couples canoodle.
As with similar events around the world, it’s smart to show up early (the market begins at 5 p.m. to catch the after-work crowd), snag a table, and take a spin around the stalls to see what looks and smells best before buying. (My friend Lou, who has spent time in Singapore, was underwhelmed by our first flat noodle dish and coveted those from another vendor we discovered later on.)
We found folks only to willing to point us to a favorite hawker’s stand, so if you want recommendations on the ground, just ask. Such due diligence means you may skip the inevitable long lines for food and drink. (This being Sydney, booze is also on offer.) Stay until dark to soak up the lantern-lit ambience as you slurp noodles and sip a local brew while bats fly overhead. (Be warned: Travelers looking for an authentic Asian-style hawker market — and prices to match — will likely be disappointed by the whole chardy-drinking crowd.) And while there was pleasant piped music in the park, the promised live entertainment didn’t appear while we were there.
But these are minor complaints. Munching on salt and pepper squid skewers, sharing some pad see ew, and savoring a cheese and spinach gozleme fresh off the griddle with friends in an urban green oasis: Can’t think of a better way to wind up a visit to my hedonistic hometown.