The Night Noodle Market of Melbourne: Hopefully, The First of Many

Melbourne celebrated Good Food Month last October by hosting a night noodle market just like what Sydney has been enjoying for the past 15 years. It was the first of its kind in Melbourne where Asian food establishments came together to sell their best-selling food items for 16 nights which had to extend to all Saturdays of the month due it its enormous success.

Available for buyers were curries, broths, Peking duck pancakes, dumplings and dimsum, rolls, ramen, sliders, and skewered meats. There were around 40 vendors selling their food goodies ala Asian street hawkers’ market style.

The organizers originally estimated 100,000 people to come and try the street food but the attendance grew to over 200,000 which prompted them to sell all nights except Sundays. According to the festival director, Joanna Savill, Australians have grown to love Asian street food and Asian fusion food. As early as 5 in the afternoon, people were coming to the food market to sample the food and by 8 in the evening, the market was usually crowded with all tables full that sharing-a-table became the only way to get seated.

Part of the festival included a photography contest called Shoot the Chef and featuring some of the top chefs in Asian cuisine from Australia, Brazil, the United States, and parts of Asia. Some of the dishes that sold well were the chili caramel popcorn, the grilled chicken noodles, the fried dough wafers, fried crepes, barbecued pork belly, pork sausages, Asian beer, and assorted exotic desserts like gelato, halo halo, and cocktail drinks.

The success of the noodle night market was so amazing people were talking about it being the reason for an unexplained shortage of chicken throughout the city. The organizers have committed to hosting the event again in 2014. They may probably add more vendors and tables since the market was bursting at the seams every night. To give you an idea of the bustle experienced every night at the market; one vendor sold 8,000 pork sliders while another sold 5,800 desserts. One vendor, Hoy Pinoy even had to scour the city for chickens to cook because the demand for their chicken skewers was far more than what they had originally planned to sell. In fact, the lines for customers were an average 30 minute wait. The challenge for next year would be to plan on shortening the queues and waiting time to be served.

Up In Arms! DC Mayor Proposes New Food Truck Regulations

Mayor of DC, Vincent Gray has trained his eye on new food truck regulations that many food truck owners fear will be severely disadvantageous to them. The Food Truck Association has even gone so far as to say if the regulations are approved, it would drive them out of business.

According to the Mayor, the new regulations are focused on the more important aspect of public safety, not economics. However, food trucks in the DC area have been doing the city a big favor by offering locals and visitors a different slant on street food, not to mention the number of jobs the food trucks have been able to generate. In addition, the food trucks have aided the city in creating a more colorful ambiance for the city streets by becoming a new attraction. People on the go appreciate the fact that you can easily buy your food while touring or shopping – and many of the food choices are amazingly delicious.

Thus, food truck owners are begging the question, “Why try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing?” For some, the move of the mayor could be politically-motivated or part of the ingenious work of influential restaurant lobbyists.

The proposed regulations include granting sweeping powers to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to decide where food trucks can park and sell. There will also be a limit to the number of sites for food trucks which would increase the competition among food truck owners if not drive some of them out of business. The DDOT will also set up a Mobile Roadway Vending Association that will monitor the locations for food trucks and even disallow food trucks to sell across each other. Many of the proposed locations will take the food trucks out of the streets where there are brick and mortar restaurants and high foot traffic streets like 21st and Virginia.

Finally, another proposed regulation is sketchy in that it disallows food trucks to sell in a section of a street that has less than 10 feet of “unobstructed sidewalk.” Unfortunately, the proposed rule does not specify what qualifies as an obstruction so it could be a phone booth, fire hydrant, and even a sidewalk street sign.

The plan of the Food Truck Association is to file a counter proposal to address the concerns of the mayor’s office while allowing them to continue to do business.