The Night Noodle Markets are coming to Brisbane. Photo: Supplied
How do you cater for a party when you don't know how many guests are coming?
For The Bun Mobile, 300 steamed buns may be usual on a regular night, but when it comes to something like Brisbane's inaugural Night Noodle Markets, owner Harold Fleming says they'll be taking demand one pork bao at a time.
The Bun Mobile will be loading up their truck. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
"We're just going to load the truck up with as much as we can fit in and hope we sell it all," Fleming says.
"Really it's an unknown quantity and we just don't know how much we'll sell but we are certainly looking forward to it."
It's the Night Noodle Markets' debut in Brisbane this year. For 11 nights the South Bank Cultural Forecourt will be transformed into a bustling and buzzing hawker-style food market, with 22 vendors steaming, stretching and sizzling up a range of Asian street food dishes, from banh mi to roti to gyoza.
The Mamak crew will be showing off their roti stretching skills. Photo: Penny Stephens
Joanna Savill, festival director of Good Food Month, presented by Citi, says in Sydney, where the festival has been running for the last 16 years, market attendance hit 30,000 for every night of trade in 2013. At the event's first outing in Melbourne last year, the expected 5000 people per night turned into 20,000, with deep queues of hungry diners.
"I guess it is part love of Asian-style street food, being outside, hanging out with friends," says Savill.
"It works for mothers with kids, it works for older people and it works for people after work."
So what's on the cards for Brisbane? Anywhere between 5,000 and 20,000 attendees, Savill predicts.
The Night Noodle Markets were a hit when they made their Melbourne debut last year. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
And the food? Hatted Melbourne- and Sydney-based Thai restaurant Longrain has a green pork curry, hot and sour prawn soup and spicy chicken on the menu.
Taro's Ramen will serve up two versions of the popular Japanese noodle soup. Arguably the best ramen maker in Brisbane, owner Taro Akimoto makes the noodles himself, the broth based on Bangalow Sweet Pork.
New kid on the West End block, Bird's Nest Yakitori, will show market-goers what's made them so popular in such a short time - food cooked on skewers over binchotan (Japanese charcoal). Think deep-fried tofu, and for the more adventurous, chicken hearts.
"We've also included a vegetarian option, organic tofu made by a guy on the Gold Coast, as well as our popular tomato wrapped in pork belly and for something really traditional, chicken hearts," says Bird's Nest owner Marie Yokoyama.
Brother and sister duo Jake and Elle, former My Kitchen Rules contestants, are serving up the cult classic bread roll, Vietnamese banh mi, at their Chitty Banh Banh stall.
Longrain's stall at the Sydney markets. They're bringing their colourful Thai food to the Brisbane event. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Last year, roti-specialists Mamak, which has restaurants in Sydney and Melbourne, were one of the stallholders at Melbourne's inaugural Night Noodle Markets.
Mamak's Julian Lee is hoping the event will be just as big in Brisbane this year too.
"It's safe to say the numbers were unexpected given it was the first time in Melbourne, but from day one it was extraordinarily busy," he says.
Peng You's Taiwanese fried chicken. Photo: Harrison Saragossi
Entry to the Night Noodle Markets is free every evening between July 17-27 at The Cultural Forecourt, South Bank. Opening hours: Mon-Tues 5pm-9pm; Wed 5pm-10pm; Thurs-Fri 5pm-11pm; Sat 4pm-10pm; Sun 4pm-9pm.
On the menu
Bang Bang: Xinjiang cumin lamb skewers; Yunnan firm tofu chilli skewers with coriander; Cong you bing (a crisp and salty street food snack).
Bird's Nest Yakitori: Skewers of deep fried tofu, chicken hearts, chicken thigh with shallots, pork belly-wrapped tomato.
Chitty Banh Banh: Braised pork banh mi; sesame tofu banh mi; wagyu beef skewers; fresh coconut drinks.
Fat Noodle: Luke Nguyen's Vietnamese chicken salad; Angus beef warm salad; spicy pork warm salad; fat pho noodles.
Harajuku Gyoza: Grilled pork gyoza; Tebasaki chicken wings; salted caramel and ice-cream.
Ii-Naa: Teriyaki chicken and rice; Japanese vegetable or chicken curry; karaage (a traditional crisp chicken dish); pork or prawn gyoza.
Let's Do Yum Cha: BBQ pork buns; chicken dim sim; vegetarian spring rolls; prawn and chive dumplings; prawn har gow; vegetable dumplings.
Longrain: Hot and sour coconut soup with prawns and crispy noodles; spiced chicken with saffron rice and a chilli and mint relish; green curry of Murray Valley pork with ginger and Thai basil.
Lunch Larder: Chicken satay with rice; beef rendang with yellow curry vegetables; turmeric chicken with coconut rice.
Mamak: Roti telur; roti canai; satay chicken skewers; mee goreng with prawns and fish cake.
Mini Pancakes: Mini pancakes, toppings include chocolate, cinnamon, maple, lychees, bananas or strawberries, plus lemon mint crush and young coconuts for drinks.
New Shanghai: Xiao long bao; pan-fried pork buns; steamed vegetarian dumplings; steamed pork belly buns; shallot pancakes.
Obsession: Thai street-style fried chicken; chicken noodle stir-fry; Peking shredded beef wrap; home-brewed lychee tea.
Okonomi House: Bacon deluxe, pork, and pork belly and cheese okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes).
Passion Tree: Mini chocolate fondue, macaroons, green tea, cookies and cream, fruity passion bingsoo.
Peng You: Taiwanese fried chicken; Malaysian fish ball soup; hawker-style shredded chicken noodle stir-fry; Peking shredded beef wrap; home-brewed iced tea.
Saigon Alley Cafe: Vietnamese chicken noodles, chicken curry.
Sake: Edamame; soba or udon noodles with your choice of pork, chicken, vegetarian or vegan.
Serendipity Ice-Cream: Salted pistachio praline ice-cream, Grand Jaffa ice-cream, spiced plum sorbet and more.
SpanThai: Saffron chicken; chicken pad Thai; satay chicken curry; beef massaman curry; chicken and cashew stir-fry; mixed platter of vegetarian spring rolls, samosa, chicken dim sims and fish cakes; mango sticky rice; iced teas.
Taro's Ramen: Tonkotsu ramen and red tonkotsu ramen.
The Bun Mobile: Twice-cooked pork bun with hoisin sauce, sakura pickled cucumber and shallots; slow-cooked wagyu beef with butter lettuce, soy pickled shiitake mushrooms and red dragon sauce; char-grilled teriyaki chicken with Japanese mayo, hoisin sauce and slaw.
Zagyoza: Chicken teriyaki; pumpkin and feta;Tokyo curry; seafood or black bean vegetarian gyoza; hot kimchi miso soup with crispy gyoza.
The Night Noodle Markets are part of Good Food Month, a Fairfax Media event. For the full program see brisbane.goodfoodmonth.com