By now most would have read or heard about the overwhelming success of the first Twilight Hawker Market, a part of the Eat Drink Perth festival. If you haven’t, now is a good time to catch up on some excellent write-ups and porn-y food pics by fellow Perth food bloggers:
The turnout for the inaugural Twilight Hawker Market was quite phenomenal with queues forming rapidly around some of the stalls shortly after the market was opened and continued to be busy until they sold out. A common complaint was the poor use of space, where all the stalls were crammed into the small area, whilst the main square at Forrest Chase was left unused. Some stall holders were also caught on the back foot with the popularity of their offerings, with the paella and Singaporean hawker stalls selling out well before 7pm. Others, like the satay and empanada stalls had queues all the way until stumps.
So last Friday night, I made my way back down to the Twilight Hawker Market again determined to sample foods that I missed out on the previous week. The organisers have taken the comments and suggestions to heart and extended the stall area, providing more space to for visitors to move and queue for their favourite foods. There were also more seating setup so people can sit down to enjoy their meals and were able to wash up afterwards with a few hand washing stations dotted throughout.
First stop at the market was Marcelita’s Empanada run by Matt of Abstract Gourmet and his lovely wife Marcela. Despite the early hour of the day, there was already quite a queue forming for their tasty deep fried treats. Fortunately, I bumped into a fellow friend who was in the queue and managed to sneak an order in with his. Mine were an all time favourite, pulled pork and lime with coriander with a side of guacamole. Hot, crispy little pockets filled with delicious shredded pork. The limes cutting through the rich meaty flavours and providing a lovely contrast. My friend Seng, who was trying the empanadas for the first time, had a sample of each flavour but also agreed that the pork was the outstanding winner.
While waiting for our empanadas to be served up, I wandered down to Red Hot Spatula, a stall serving Singaporean style curries and snacks which I missed out on the previous week as they sold out quickly. From the stall, I had their signature hoi sin glazed chicken in wonton cup, a dish that is inspired by the classic Pekin duck but given Yvonne’s unique intepretation. The chicken was garnished with grated cucumber and sprigs of coriander. The combination of flavours and textures worked really well with the salty chicken tempered by the cool, bland cucumbers and coriander providing a touch of sharpness. The crispy wonton skins provided a lovely crunchy textural base bringing all the elements together. I also had a deliciously rich and aromatic beef curry served with warm roti pratha.
Despite preparing a larger batch of food and adding new dish (Gado Gado) to the menu, they were completely sold out by 7pm. Yvonne has vowed to make an even larger batch of food for next week’s market and add yet another dish, quite probably a curry as that was immensely popular.
In the meantime, Seng wandered off and got himself an entree platter from Thali – comprising of a pair of tandoori drumsticks, 5 curry prawns, a samosa and some salad. The chicken was moist, tender and really flavoursome with just the right touch of charred smokiness. I found the prawns a little under-flavoured, but there was a lovely touch of heat at the back of the palate.
Determined not to miss out on the satay, Seng and I joined the already long queue of punters waiting for the smokey charred treats. In the distance we can see the stall owners busily slaving over a hot charcoal stove, barbequing and basting the little morsels of fragrant marinated chicken with thick, fragrant, clouds of smoke filling the air. After about 45 minutes, we finally made it to the front of the queue and were amply rewarded with delicious, finely marinated chicken satay sticks, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of char and doused liberally with a rich, thick, spicy peanut sauce.
After all that eating, it was nice to end the day with something cold and sweet to finish a lovely evening and a delicious meal. I had a “tornado”, by the lovely ladies at Waikika Moo Cow, a combination of frozen yogurt and frozen fruit of your choice pressed through a spiral and churned into a soft-serve style dessert. In addition to the “tornado” they also had fruit smoothies, granita and chilled water. Perfect to quench your thirst after a heavy eating session.
By the time I left at about 8pm, there were still many people milling about, eating or in queues waiting for food. Some stalls, having sold out early yet again, were promising to make even more for the next twilight market while others were still going strong till the end of the night.
Well done to the City of Perth for a fantastic initiative and for taking comments on board and continuously improving the hawker market. This has certainly been a highlight of the festival. Many people I’ve spoken to on the evening have commented that a market like this is sorely missing from the local food scene and that it should be a semi regular fixture rather than just for the festival. The twilight hawker market runs from 5pm – 8pm every Friday during March as part of the Eat Drink Perth festival.