Review: Five dishes from the Wellington Night Noodle Markets

Britt Mann/Fairfax NZ

Wellingtonians wandered the waterfront on Wednesday evening, sampling Eastern street food at the capital's first Night Noodle Markets.

The line-up of Eastern cuisine on the Wellington waterfront at the Night Noodle Markets features passionate foodies from Wellington, Christchurch and Melbourne. 

We sampled a selection of fare on offer this week. 

Oriental five spice chicken and chips, $10
Talia Shadwell/Fairfax NZ

Oriental five spice chicken and chips, $10

Oriental five spice chicken and chips, $10
 
Chicken salt is obviously the best thing ever to season hot chips but, guys- keep an open mind. I don't know what what the advertised five spices actually were, but they gave the most pedestrian of street foods - fried chicken and  chips - a welcome, tangy kick. The chicken was tasty, although a little on the dry side. Points to the server for the generous dollop of perplexing dipping sauces (more mystery!) and greens to garnish. Probably not the most innovative offering, but definitely kid-friendly and even better for their hungover minders. 

- Talia Shadwell

READ MORE:
Night Noodle Markets draw the crowds
Opening night success for Wellington's first Night Noodle Markets
* Night Noodle Markets: A history
* Night Noodle Markets: Meet the vendors
Review: House of Dumplings, Wellington
Taste testing Christchurch's Night Noodle Markets

Pork belly noodles from Beat Kitchen, $12.
Britt Mann/Fairfax NZ

Pork belly noodles from Beat Kitchen, $12.

Pork rice noodle salad, $12 from Beat Kitchen

I wasn't surprised to learn this dish was Beat Kitchen's most popular on opening night. The pork belly had been slow-cooked for 16 hours, and was cut and deep-fried fresh before being served atop a bed of well-dressed noodles which had been mixed through with sliced chillies, fresh basil leaves and fried shallots. 

The pork belly was seasoned with hoisin sauce, imparting sweetness and saltiness in equal measure. Beat Kitchen brought out the best in the belly - an unashamedly fatty cut. Layers of buttery meat were interspersed with crisp crackling, releasing waves of flavour with every chew.

It was like dessert made out of meat - in a good way.

- Britt Mann

Black sticky rice pudding with lycees and coconut from Beat Kitchen, $6.
Britt Mann/Fairfax NZ

Black sticky rice pudding with lycees and coconut from Beat Kitchen, $6.

Thai sticky black rice pudding, $8 from Beat Kitchen

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One of  the few actual desserts on offer at the Markets, this was a creative take on rice pudding - just like mum used to make. 

Glutinous, grainy and syrupy, the rice was cooked with comforting coconut milk, with fragrant lycees nestled in its topmost layer. Sprinkled with nutty, toasted coconut threads and sesame seeds, Beat Kitchen got the balance bang on.

A warning, however: the dessert is ultra-filling. Ask for a second spoon and share it with your compadres.

- Britt Mann

Southeast Asian shrimp tacos from Monsoon Poon, $8.
Britt Mann/Fairfax NZ

Southeast Asian shrimp tacos from Monsoon Poon, $8.

Southeast Asian shrimp tacos, $8 from Monsoon Poon

This dish had miniature tortillas topped with shrimp in a tomatoey hot sauce, with a squirt of avocado mayo and a dusting of coriander leaves. 

As someone who requests "hot" from any waiter who inquires how spicy I'd like my food, I was enchanted by these dinky morsels. The shrimp's is a fun take on the more traditional fish taco, and the rip-snortingly fiery sauce certainly makes for a memorable mouthful. My throat was still pinging an hour later - the burn tempered only slightly by a dangerously flavourless cup of Tiger beer ($9).

The three-piece dish is highly shareable for those keen on sampling as much of the Markets as possible. And, the tacos are easy to eat in one go.

- Britt Mann

Vegetarian padt thai from Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen, $15.
Britt Mann/Fairfax NZ

Vegetarian padt thai from Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen, $15.

Vegetarian padt​ thai, $15 from Tuk Tuk Thai Kitchen

The dish, which also comes in a chicken version, was pad thai at its best. Proving vegetarian food doesn't have to be boring, the noodles were mixed with crunchy crinkle-sliced carrots, beans of both green and mung variety, and plenty of egg and tofu. The noodles were al dente and not saucy in the slightest. 

Fragrant with freshly-squeezed lime and topped off with a layer of pulverised peanuts, the dish was worth the trek to the Markets' eastern-most corner. 

This giant pile of sweet, tangy rice noodles is best shared among friends. I spotted a couple who'd deconstructed their noodle box and were eating off the flattened cardboard like a plate. Hurrah for Kiwi ingenuity. 

​Britt Mann

Have you visited the Night Noodle Markets? Share your favourite dish with us in the comment section below.

 

 - Stuff

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