Like many others I went to the Lantern Festival at Albert Park over the weekend and gorged myself on an array of street food, witnessed the horrid karaoke and adored the display of lanterns. Armed with my camera and a 50mm prime lens, it was a learning experience for me and the first time I’ve ever taken my manual focus only lens out. Having to manually focus every shot gets tiring, but thankfully, my friend Miss C was very patient with me.
I make no secret that I love street food. It’s one of the highlights of my travels. Even if my body doesn’t always agree. I’ve had meat on sticks in many countries and I love when stalls specialise in a single or few items rather than try and do many dishes poorly.
When presented with so many potential delights to choose from, my criteria was simple: pick a dish you don’t make at home.
These takoyaki hit the spot. For those that are unfamiliar with these piping hot Japanese snacks, a batter including raw, chopped octopus or prawn is poured into a special pan. These are cooked and flipped until they are round and golden. Then they are plated, sauced and sprinkled with bonito flakes (dried, smoked fish flakes) which appear to dance on top of hot food. Served with toothpicks, takoyaki can be shared or eaten alone as a snack. Let these cool for as long as you can resist because they are hot. The pain of eating these is worth it though. And you will learn to eat them like the locals do. Takoyaki are unfamiliar enough for adventurous to enjoy but mild enough for kids to scoff without knowing they’re exotic. Just make sure you cool them sufficiently for little mouths.
Other things we ate were:
Taiwan spicy sausage Taiwan
Served on a stick, this sausage was greasy, sweet and spicy. You could see pieces of fat dotted throughout the meat and the flavour reminded me of the sausages I’d eaten in Thailand and Laos actually. Really good. I’ll keep a lookout for these.
Eggplant pie (Fried stuffed eggplant) Hakka (China)
What appeared to be a thick slice of battered and deepfried eggplant was actually stuffed with a mixture that we couldn’t quite put our finger on. Coming from a vegetarian stall, we figured it was probably something soy based.
Curry Puffs Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand
Served at room temp for some reason, these were a light snack. Unexpectedly mild and sweet.
BBQ lamb Various
Tasty, fatty and a little spicy. I thought it would be served on sticks (as pictured) but it came unsticked and in a bowl.
Pearl milk tea a.k.a. Bubble tea Taiwan
We tried both original and taro versions. I wanted the purple drink so purple drink I got. You know you’re not a proper grown up with you pick food or drink based on the colour. Pearl milk tea is surprisingly filling because of all the tapioca balls that you eat while you slurp. Tapioca don’t doesn’t really taste like anything and this is a texture thing rather than a flavour hit.
Pad thai Thailand
Just something to fill in all the gaps in my belly. Not the best pad thai I’ve ever had and one of the most expensive at $7 or $10 each. In Thailand, the average price is about $1 for a freshly made pad thai.
Street Food Highlights:
- Trying new things
- Getting something unexpected, but good all the same.
- Trying to decide from a huge selection.
Street Food Tips:
- Take someone with similar tastes so you can get a wider sample of dishes to share.
- Bring cash. Or use one of the three ATM inside the uni quad.