Melody Market & salsa at Cruise Bar (27th October 2011)

Finally, I’m heading up to Chatswood after work today to check out the night market! Ken’s been telling me about the night market for some time but I’ve just never got around heading over. Jono and I had planned to meet Ken and Pip at the market last week but Jono was caught up at work so we didn’t make it. But we will this week!

Jono came to meet me at North Sydney train station and we took the train together over to Chatswood which was about a 15-minute train ride from North Sydney. Chatswood Melody Market occurs every Thursday, rain or shine, from 10am till 9pm with stalls set up along the Corso of Victoria Ave, selling a range of arts, crafts and fashion as well as featuring a variety of international cuisine. Exiting the train station, one would be hit by the waft of appetizing smells coming from the food stalls – I can hear my tummy rumbling already! Ken hasn’t arrived so we went into Westfield shopping centre for a bit. Thursday is late night shopping with most shops closing around 9pm instead of the usual 5pm (if this was in Malaysia, it would be late night shopping every day). Office workers still in work attire were making the most of their weekday shop session while others like us seemed to make the trip to Chatswood an activity in itself, doing some shopping and grabbing a bite for dinner from the street stalls. Where is Ken anyway? I’m getting hungry…ding-ding! Oh, text from Ken – he’s here!

We caught up with Ken who was waiting at the shopping centre exit into Victoria Ave, hand holding a box of what looked like food. “What is this?” I asked, pointing at his box that had 8 ping pong-sized balls. “Takoyaki - try one, it’s good but probably still hot inside,” warning Ken. Huh, you want me to use the toothpick to pick up the ball and put the whole thing in my mouth?? I was still contemplating how I was going to eat my takoyaki (a popular Japanese snack) but Jono was way ahead of me, chewing away mouth full. Ok, here goes…ohhhhhhhooo, HOT! It didn't help that it was quite large so I was struggling to hold the warm takoyaki in my mouth. Is there no better way to eat this? Ken purchased the takoyaki from Colotako, one of the Asian food stalls at Melody Market – these battered balls were filled with diced octopus (you can also choose prawn or crab flavours) and cooked in a special cast-iron pan with semi-spherical moulds. Drizzled with BBQ sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, and a sprinkle of bonito flakes and finely chopped seaweed, these balls are soft and warm (though the one I had was hot enough to burn my upper palate) and chewy in the middle. An interesting mix of texture and very yummy, Ken tells us the takoyaki made by this stall is quite authentic and that he would come to Chatswood every Thursday just for it. Well, it must be really good then! Cost $7 for a box of 8 balls which is sufficient to make a meal for one person.

We finished up the takoyaki and went to join in the queue at Chorizo, a Spanish tapas stall that sold mainly garlic prawns and chorizos. Ken mentioned that he often seen long queues at this stall and wondered if the food was any good but couldn’t be bothered waiting. Since we’re here, we may as well try it – Jono and I joined the line and got us a large garlic prawn and a chorizo roll while Ken headed to Cane Juice to get a takeaway juice for us to share. Standing in line, I could see the cook busily pouring more frozen prawns onto the hotplate and drenching them in a thick garlicky marinade. The smell was just tantalizing! Food was given on order and there were salsas and chillies you can add on to your meals. Jono got me to generously squirt the salsas while he stuffed a few chillies into the chorizo roll. This is going to be spicy!

We found ourselves a table next to the store and shared our purchases. Hmm, the food from Chorizo wasn’t as good as we thought – it was alright but not really worth long queues for (I rather queue for takoyaki). The sugarcane juice however was lovely. I’ve only ever had sugarcane juice on its own – this was mixed with a bit of lemonade. I like! Sugarcane juice is such a flashback of the past for me. Street stalls selling sugarcane juice were popular when I was growing up in Malaysia. Often, it would be a Chinese man selling the drink and I can still hear the sound of the sugarcane being crushed through a small machine that I often wondered if it would breakdown partway through juicing because it chugged so exhaustively. For as little as 50 cents, one can purchase a sizeable serving of the juice served chilled in a takeaway plastic bag secured with raffia string on the top and a straw pierced into the bag for you to drink from. Not sure if such stalls are still popular today, probably not so much since most people are concerned of hygiene and cleanliness of food (it is believed that the ice may be made of tap water which could make you ill if drunk). Photos taken at the market here.

Still feeling a bit peckish, we decided to take a walk to see what else was there on Victoria Ave. Slight pity with the weather as it was overcast and not all the stalls were out today at the market. Walking down Victoria Ave, it was quite obvious that this suburb is highly populated with Asians just from the number of Asian restaurants and shops on this main strip. Ken popped into Breadtop, a bakery that specializes in freshly baked Asian breads, cakes and pastries that has branches all over the city. “This is what I grew up eating,” piped Ken as he picked up a few items. Me too! Pork floss buns, sausage bread rolls, donut twists with cinnamon and sugar, chiffon cake, egg tarts etc. I could hear Jono go ‘eee…’ in dislike at some of them, especially the savoury ones. They may not sound very nice but they are delicious, really! Though I have no idea what Ken bought – I took a bite of one that had a peculiar mix of pork floss, chives and savoury cream. Eee…tasted so odd…

We eventually ended up in Café New York for coffees and a NY Cheesecake – we weren’t hungry enough to head into a restaurant and had plenty of time to kill before heading back to town for salsa dancing at Cruise Bar. Over coffee and cake, Jono and I shared what we learnt in our Chinese lessons with Ken, writing out Chinese characters and asking Ken if it made any sense in Kanji (Chinese characters used in modern Japanese writing system). Ken was able to identify most of the words though some had totally different meanings which made us laugh so much :P

We left the café and headed into town around 8pm, arriving at Cruise Bar at just the right time – not too early or late. Jono brought my dance shoes and a top for me to change into (the pink shirt I wore to work would blot every drop of sweat – not a good look). Thanks baby! More of Ken’s dancing gang turned up as the night progressed and we had many fun dances with one another. Jono and I had several dances as well and I’m so proud of him – he has picked up the moves from his class and able to execute them well and in time with the music. And now he’s out social dancing, even dancing with Pip and Sarah! He’s still a little shy to ask other followers for a dance, worried he would bore them with his lack of moves – don’t worry so much about it. You have enough moves to make the dance fun and it’s only through dancing with different people that you learn how to accommodate and tweak your leading. He’s doing so well and I’m having fun dancing with him too!

Jono and I said our goodbyes and headed for home around 11.30pm. Feeling quite tired but very happy having spent a lovely evening with my amazing man and friends :)


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