The noodle markets are back! I was really looking forward to making multiple visits this year since I didn’t get to sample much when I was working at the markets last year. With a ridiculously impressive line-up including some newcomers (Hello, Devon!) and the promise of seeing the inflatable lucky cat, Jeff, Rob and myself make our way on the first Friday a.k.a. the second night of the markets.
Devon Cafe and Devon on Danks are some of the most popular cafes in Sydney but this is their first time having a stall at the Night Noodle Markets. The Devon team had been sneakily posting photos on their Instagram as previews of what they would be serving. Surprisingly enough, the sundae was what caught my eye despite being more of a savoury than sweets person. A promise of sweetcorn ice cream, reminiscent of ais krim potong childhoods plus all of my favourite parfait toppings meant this was something I knew I just had to try. This was even my first stop of the night as I began to reverse eat my way through starting with dessert than dinner.
I absolutely loved Devon’s sundae. As Sydney currently wades itself through a gluttony sea of soft serve, this is one that actually stands out to me. The flavours are, in the simplest way possible, real. It sounds silly to say but I’m pretty tired of that sickeningly sweet artificial aftertaste that accompanies a lot of flavours available in Sydney. I’d previously had Devon’s miso ice cream and it remains consistent in this interpretation, a subtle saltiness that’s kind of like a toned down salted caramel. The sweetcorn flavour is such a delight and pairs beautifully with the miso as well. As expected the cornflakes (buried under the soft serve) are good too for the added texture as are the adzuki beans for a soft chew. I appreciated the pipette of lime syrup, I think it helped cut through a dessert that could have been too creamy. But weirdly enough, my cup didn’t come with any burnt butter popcorn. With all of these typically savoury elements being incorporated here, maybe it’s not too much of a surprise that main course-eater me fell in love with miso corny.
Another dish I’ve also had before at their Danks dinners is the belacan chicken wing. It’s a great little addition to the menu and a good way to stand out from every other stall that is also doing deep fried poultry. I love the tanginess of the sauce but being a not-so-huge fan of fried chicken (Rob ordered this) I doubt I would come back. Still if you’re the kind of girl who chases a mouthful of Arisun chicken with a chunk of Hot Star, definitely give Devon’s wings a try. They’re different.
I’m a big fan of Harajuku gyoza so it’s a little sad for me that they don’t offer any other savoury dumpling options besides pork but Rob makes quick work of this.
Hoy Pinoy needs no introduction and is ubiquitous with sentences like ‘the best thing to eat at the Sydney Night Noodle Markets!’. I don’t do pork but these chicken skewers we got from the Hoy Pinoy cart suit me more than fine. The sticky banana mustard that coats their tender chicken is a recipe worth millions. Absolutely incredible, do they sell these in a bottle that I can suckle on before going to bed? While I do wish the flavour of the sauce permeated throughout the chicken, I understand the logistical impossibility of marinating all of their chicken for hours when their queues are one of the longest at Hyde Park.
Jeff arrives a little bit later than us and makes a beeline for Hoy Pinoy’s main stall where the roast pigs on a spit are. For whatever reason, he’s thoroughly disappointed with this one. His claim is that the meat is a little flavourless and cold, surprising considering what a spectacle it is watching them cook it for hours. It probably has everything to do that these are all put aside next to the cash register, exposed to the elements of wind. The rice goes without him saying, you can see that it’s quite glucky indiciating that it’s overcooked and soft.
It’s a pretty windy evening that we went for our visit which may have worked against a number of vendors. Everybody Loves Ramen’s is one of them. The original RFC was a David Chang/Lucky Peach recipe one which has legends shrouding it. Jeff highly looked forward to sampling this interpretation for it but we found that the flavours fell a bit flat. It didn’t taste too different from normal fried chicken and although visible ramen chunks were in the batter, I couldn’t discern any umami from ramen MSG flavouring. It’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not very good and even less so when cold.
Another from the same store which had gotten so much hype on social media. This we received immediately after we paid, which leads me to believe they were all pre-prepared. I don’t have too many issues with that except that once again the food was cold. This really interferes with the taste because flavours are less pronounced. Even worse are the tacos which are crunchy in some small parts but mostly chewy. This was probably the most disappointing dish we ordered so far but I was more frustrated at myself for following a gimmicky trend on Instagram. Would not recommend.
I didn’t have any of the alcohol which I heard was strangely bad (strange because Singleton whiskey is supposed to be quite good) but the cookie was super! So super I almost succeeded in stealing Jeff’s.. but anyway. The cookie is a mix of Singleton whiskey and maple syrup. Sweetness from the maple is pronounced with just a hint of smokiness from the alcohol. I’d recommend if you love chewy cookies as opposed to harder, crustier ones though. Biting into this the middle isn’t cooked through and is quite basically just cookie dough. Just depends on how you like your cookies.
The markets are always a bit of fun and it’s important to remember you’re paying part for food and part for ambience. I don’t regret going even though there were quite a lot more misses than hits this year. However I don’t think I’ll be going back except maybe for a sugar hit from Devon.