Wednesday. Hump day. You’ve struggled through two whole days of work and here you are, at the midpoint with another 48 hours left until the weekend. You probably made a packed lunch for Monday in a fit of healthy optimism; Tuesday was Monday’s nutritious but disappointing leftovers… Wednesday’s lunch was likely a soggy sandwich from the 711 $2 shelf. You can’t face two more days of this. How do you pick yourself up?
Well, that’s easy: Wednesday night in Melbourne brings the Queen Victoria Night Market during the summer and winter months. Packed full of international food stalls ranging from Nepalese to oysters to a straight up mozzarella bar, your senses are assaulted from all angles and in the best way possible.
This week, I headed up there with two friends, Lydia and Charli. After a couple of the $8 Running Bull sangrias, served by the friendliest and most lively bar staff in the CBD, it was time to branch out to some culinary delights. Now, the last time I tried a good, solid piece of fried chicken was (too many) years ago. (You can’t fully appreciate KFC until it’s out of bounds to you. Forbidden fruit…forbidden fried goods etc.) Imagine my delight when Lydia informed me of the GLUTEN FREE FRIED CHICKEN being served at MJR TOM’s stall!
Served with a pot of lemon alioli, a kind of creamy citrusy mayo, it definitely topped the Kentucky fried dishes of old that I wistfully dream about. There were no gristly bones or unidentifiable wobbly bits – only juicy chicken and a thick, crunchy coating.
We also got some cassava chips from a Jamaican stall called Boss Man Food. Cassava, also known as arrowroot or tapioca, is a common plant grown in tropical regions; when I visited Fiji it was a component of most meals.
This place deep fries them as paprika seasoned chips and serve them in a cone with hot chilli sauce, for only $6! The spicy dish also qualifies as a potentially ‘deadly’ one, according to TIME magazine – so you can officially claim that you’re living dangerously.
Aside from American and Jamaican, there was a lot more on offer. Lydia tried some barbecued corn and Charli got a vegetarian burrito (the Mexican always looks amazing). The stalls are reasonably priced, and you can get a hefty meal with a drink for under $20, whilst watching all sorts of eclectic acts on the live stage outside.
A word of warning, though: if you have any dietary requirements or allergies, do be careful and ensure you’ve checked with the vendor that their food is suitable for you! In the hustle and bustle of the market, this can sometimes be missed or miscommunicated (not with the places I have mentioned here, however). Make sure you bring cash, as well – the ATM line can take up to 20 minutes at peak times!
I realise that I have just written an entire blog post on chicken and chips, but you can’t deny it got you riled up, and, dare I say, salivating. The summer night market ends in three Wednesdays’ time and won’t restart until it’s properly winter, so get down there from 5pm onwards. I would advise skipping that miserable hump day lunch to save room for a few courses!
MJR TOM, 108 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC 3066
Queen Victoria Night Market, 513 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000