By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Dine Local is often told to arrive hungry when visiting Dandenong Market.
The advice remains sound for the market’s comprehensive Street Food walking tour.
Our guide is worldly chef Tim Hollands who has regularly travelled to food meccas in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
To him, it’s a surprise that Dandenong Market’s world of foods is unknown by many Melburnians.
“This is really unique. It’s a real market,” he enthuses.
“It’s like a working market in South East Asia, which hasn’t been gentrified.
“I’m blown away by it.”
Mr Hollands points out the multiculturalism mixing at close quarters. A Lebanese bakery sits comfortably next to a Polish smallgoods deli, for instance.
Many of the traders are refugees, building new lives by sharing their homeland cuisine. Such as those baking stacks of Afghan flat breads in Kabul Kitchen’s tandoor ovens.
He shows us the seafood stores where customers select fresh whole fish that are then gutted and filleted by a team of kitchenhands on the spot.
As well as the cultural insights, there’s plenty of samples.
On our tour, we were served pink chai that had been reddened with rose water. There was freshly crushed sugar cane juice from the hyperactive Sasha who appeared to be on the headiest of sugar hits.
Sri Lankan devilled chicken, a smoky sweet-and-sour combo of tomato, pineapple and peppers, was keenly devoured.
Along the way, it’s a brisk walk and talk – as the food piles in.
There were tastes of the finest chicken and pork Chinese dumplings, soft Lebanese falafel, a zinging zataar pizza, Australian honeys tended from red gum, manuka and stringy barks, Turkish gozleme, Afghan bulani and bratwurst sausage.
And of course a bag of the iconic Dandy Donuts’ offerings.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. But for City of Greater Dandenong residents, this moving feast is just $10 ($20 full price).
The next tour is on Friday 22 November.