We’d been planning to go with friends anyway, but I got the dates mixed up and thought it ended 6 days later (it actually ends Sunday 23rd October 2016), so a meeting in the CBD allowed an impromptu visit. If you don’t want the crowds I’d say head to Hyde Park earlier on, given that it was only a Wednesday night it was pretty damn busy with large queues. Our next trip might have to be later night after weekend drinks. Times vary, opening 5pm weekdays and 4pm weekends, closing between 9pm/10pm, with Saturday nights until 11pm. Entry is free but it’s probably important to point out that it’s no cash, pay on your card or buy tickets. John was a little disappointed about the lack of noodles, sure they were some noodle choices, but much more other choices (over 40 stalls), which I actually preferred. Bags were searched on entry, as you cannot bring your own alcohol. A bottle of wine averaged $35 spend, clever campers had brought blankets to sit on, whilst there was a decent amount of tables and chairs, there wasn’t enough by far. Citi customers had their own special areas, so definitely worth bring your card if you are a customer.
After a wander around we decided to pick up a roti from Mamaks Village. At $7 it was a plain roti served with a curry sauce. Unfortunately we couldn’t make out what the other flavour cuisines were and so we went with the cheapest safest option. The guy making and spinning the rotis was pretty cool to watch and the sign stated ‘Sydney To Flying Roti’! The roti was pretty good, I’d probably prefer if it hadn’t been folded so many times before being fried as I really enjoy the thin crispiness. The sauce was average, it had a little kick but lacked the depth of the sauces we’d had with roti at Spice Alley. All in all we were happy with our purchase, but would be a little more adventurous if we visited this stall again.
Onward to another stall, where we decided to order the vermicelli bowl and prawn rice paper rolls at Mama Made. We choose the pork with the vermicelli – the pork was super tasty, underneath was salad and then vermicelli noodles with a broth, this was a little disappointing, we were hoping for some mixed up concoction. Next up was the prawn rice paper rolls, I’ve been wanting to try these for a while but wasn’t so fussed, they were filled with plain noodles, salad and some sort of prawn patty with a satay side sauce, all in all not a good combo and I wish we’d had the spring rolls instead.
After that we had the potato spirallised on a stick, I just love these and usually pick them up at food festivals and Universal Studios. They were $6 each or 3 sticks for $15, I wish I’d had 3 as they were pretty tasty! This stall had the best variety of flavours I’ve seen offered, the variety of flavours included the obligatory Aussie chicken salt, plus BBQ and lemon pepper or you could go all out and have all (I think about 7 or 8 choices!). I chose the salt and vinegar, but being a vinegar fiend I could have done with a bit more. I often find these have never been cooked quite to perfection – I guess they are throwing them out to deal with supply and demand. This was pretty cooked and crispy, but an extra minute in the fryer would have made it perfection.
We ended the evening with a cup of Pimms in the prettily decorated Pimms garden. A cup was $8 and a jug $30, for Sydney prices we didn’t think $8 a cup was too bad. Although full of ice, there was a decent amount of liquid in the cup, not exactly strong, but I was disappointed that they’d added ginger ale, I figure that was to make up for probably not much alcohol being included. It was garnished with a slice of orange and a slice of cucumber, I would have preferred strawberry and mint, but given it was floating on top of the ice I doubt it made much difference to the flavour. For anyone seriously into their Pimms, I’m guessing it was Pimms No 1, as we didn’t see any other choices. It was however refreshing, but as the only ‘cocktail’ at the bars I was a bit disappointed in lack of choice. There were more options for beers, wines and soft drinks.
One of the highlights was the rainbow drop cake at Harajuku Gyoza, which I imagine is so popular due to the novelty and that it’s gluten free. I’d like to try one next visit, but didn’t feel it was worth the wait. It looks like a large drop of jelly, like some sort of molecular experiment! This stand was a huge hit with the Octodog also being popular – three potato octopuses on a stick, I was tempted to get one, but the pork gyozas I wanted to try from that stall had sold out so that’s also on the to-do list for next time!
For those avoiding gluten we did also spot a gluten free doughnut stand. Another sweet treat which was totally instragramable was the waffle of a stick, coming in a variety of toppings decorated with a cocktail umbrella, these looked pretty tasty. Another hit of the night was the Messina stand, dubbed the ‘Very Very Good Lucky Fortune Bar’, which looked interesting, definitely need to try the caramel version, but I was a little put off by the coconut gelato it was partnered with. Black Star Pastry also looked another hit for those with a sweet tooth.
On the savoury side of hits, Daniel San was selling flavoured chicken and pork on a skewer – will be back for one of those! Hoy Pinyo was also another hit selling chicken satay skewers. BAO Stop was pulling in the crowds for it’s duck fries ($15), which looked pretty good, but we’d just had Dirty Trailer Trash fries loaded with pulled pork and a variety of sauces the weekend before at Reuben & Moore at the Westfield Mall, so decide to give this one a pass (at least until next time!). They also had a tray of interesting looking slider type buns, 3 for $20, which I’d also like to try.
All in all we enjoyed our night and hopefully we’ll be back again before it ends this year. We’ve been quite disappointed with some of the food festival events we’ve been to in Sydney, so were happy that this one had a lot of choice despite some of the large queues. They could definitely fit in a few more stalls, which would assist. I’d love to see a proper cocktail bar at next year’s event as I’m not the biggest fan of beer and wine, and sure it’s do really well.