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Exploring Dandenong Market: A mecca of culture and produce

Dandenong Market is a mecca of fresh produce and delicious cuisine that has been serving the south-east for over 150 years.

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Image source: 
Thomas Ayton

If you’re seeking that authentic market experience outside of Melbourne’s CBD, then look no further than Dandenong Market. Known as the “cook’s market”, Dandenong Market is a mecca of fresh produce and delicious cuisine that has been serving the south-east for over 150 years.

Making your way through over 200 market traders, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a souk or hawkers market with fresh produce in every direction. When you arrive at the centrepiece of the facility, the Market Square, you’ll discover the true treasure of the market – a multicultural hub offering authentic tastes from around the globe, cooked fresh from homemade recipes.

Nestled within the centre of the food stalls, there’s ample seating, offering tables of varying sizes to accommodate those looking to sit down and enjoy their meal. Strings of bulbs hang from the roof, giving the sense of a true outdoor market. Make no mistake though – this place is open, come rain or shine.

With a variety of vegetarian and vegan options available, The Soup Factory is perfect for a cold winter evening, offering delectable soups served in a fresh homemade bread bowl. The rich pumpkin with sweet potato and coriander is hearty, but light and full of flavour. It’s complemented by the fluffy fresh bread it comes served in, making it a unique twist on a classic winter favourite.

For those seeking a bolder flavour, there’s Sikat Pinoy, offering Filipino street food with a rich BBQ taste. Sri Lankan curries at the Hawkers Food stall bubble devilishly away in clay pots, their sweet aromas wafting throughout the market (complete with potato and chickpea options).

There are plenty of dessert options, too, making the market a sweet tooth’s heaven. There are freshly baked Dutch poffertjes (small, fluffy pancakes served with all the traditional toppings) and authentic crêpes from Pardon My French, drizzled with Nutella and served with fresh strawberries and banana.

It’s not just delicious street food on offer at Dandenong Market anymore, with the newly opened outdoor area, The Terrace, serving as the home for the Market Tavern – providing quaint, outdoor-seating, and offering beer, wine and pub grub. Illuminated by fairy lights and heaters overhead, the mulled spiced wine will surely warm your cockles on a cold winter night.

Dandenong Market is truly a bustling hub of the local community. While it’s always busy, it’s never packed. The hum of busy eaters and shoppers comes from all corners of the market, without being so loud that it drowns out conversation. It’s surely one of the only places in Melbourne you’re likely to find 156 nationalities offering authentic and enchanting cuisine under the one roof.

What’s on at the Market

Tell us about the Dandee Donuts Eating Competition. What inspired the idea and how long has it been running? Who should enter? Dandee Donuts are one of our most popular traders here at the market. We often hear “I could eat bags and bags of Dandee Donuts!” So we thought, why not find out? Who can stop at just one?” Last year, the winner Sven Pelman ate 20 hot jam doughnuts in four minutes – impressive stuff. We have partnered with Competitive Eating Australia for the event so we encourage professional eaters to apply. The Dandee Donut Eating Competition will go down on Sunday August 19.

What does the Curry Food Festival bring to Dandenong Market? We’re the home to multicultural food and we want to show that curries aren’t just an Indian dish but rather there are delicious curries from cultures all over the world. We’ll have food trucks and stalls selling curries from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Africa and more. Head down to the Curry Festival on Sunday September 2.

Tell us about the Full Moon Festival. What can we expect from the day? How is this year different to previous years? The Full Moon Festival is an awesome day of delicious aromas, authentic street food and awe-inspiring live performances.This year we will have an Acrobatic Dragon Dance performed by a team trained from the International Singapore Dragon Dance Competition Team. The Full Moon festival is taking place on Sunday September 23.

Tells us about Dandenong Market’s huge range of world street food. You can indulge in freshly-made gözleme, Melbourne’s best Mauritian dal puris or authentic Sri Lankan kotthu roti, then wash it down with freshly-crushed Thai sugar cane juice. From churros to chaat, burek to banh mi, and kibbi to kranskies, Dandenong Market has the perfect dish for you.

What else is there to explore at Dandenong Market? Our visitors are supporting small, family businesses, rather than filling the pockets of large multinationals. For example one of our traders, Maria Dhinojwala, is a graduate of RMIT Fashion Technology who sells a beautiful range of Indian formalwear that she designs. There’s also Joza Hart, who sells honey made from 600 of his own beehives that are located throughout the country, and then there’s Melina’s Bakery and Larder, run by fifth generation baker and pâtissier Melina Longhurst.  

Find the Dandenong Market at Clow St & Cleeland Street, Dandenong.