Dandenong Market Free Food Tour
We are so blessed to live in this city of Melbourne and be surrounded by people of all different cultures, races, colours and cuisines. My own mother spent some of her formative years in Malaysia and developed a love for delicious, spicy cuisine and regularly ventured outside the “meat and three veg” in her own cooking. I love visiting the homes of my friends from other cultures, whether that be Malay, Indian, Polish, Ethiopian or Mexican, and feasting on homemade stir fries, curries and other Asian delicacies.
The city of Greater Dandenong is one city where this mixing bowl of flavours is most clearly seen. A walk along the main drag will take you pass Afghan bazaars, Polish delis, Vietnamese bakeries, Indian spice shops and Middle Eastern grocers. You can browse through shops selling swathes of beautiful fabrics for saris, nestled next to hair dressers dedicated to the needs of African women. The star of the show though is the famous Dandenong Market.
Today, my mum and I ventured out to experience one of the best kept secrets of the foodie world— the Free Food Discovery tour.
Yes. That’s right. Free.
There is a free, one hour tour of the incredible Dandenong Market. Honestly, if you’re not excited by this then I don’t know what will excite you.
The tours run every Tuesday and Friday at 10am and go for about an hour.
A guide (we had Russell, the resident chef) meets you at Market Management before giving each participant a gift bag with a $5 voucher, a tub of spices from Sam’s Spice and Grocery, recipes and some information about the market.
We were then told some facts about the market.
- It’s the oldest in Melbourne!
- There are around 167 different nationalities who call the city of Greater Dandenong home!
- Dandenong Market underwent a major refurbishment done 6 years ago, ensuring that the market is now all undercover!
We were then taken to visit some of the long-standing stall holders. These visits included
- incredible delis where we tried olives, kabana and cured beef
- the “Why Not Wooden Bakery” where we were treated to some freshly baked zaatar
- TC’s Asian butcher
- Hellenic Seafood (the 3rd store- this one run by the grandkids of the original stockholder)
- the various nut sellers and
- the organic grocers.
We were shown how to get the best bargains, where we could haggle and which retailers sold what kind of produce. We were shown the difference in the produce sold between the Halal butchers and the Asian butchers; the Greek grocers and the Vietnamese grocers; the Polish deli and the Middle Eastern deli.
Despite all this educational goodness being fed to us it was slightly overshadowed by the excitement that was brought by the best taster of the day- a whole Hot Jam Doughnut from the famous Dandee Donut Van. Yep.
Say. No. More.
The tour finished with a few more testers from the Market Hall food court (a deliciously fresh cooked falafel and a refreshing shot of sugar cane juice) before Russell bid us farewell.
Mum and I spent a few more hours at the market, checking out the produce, spending our vouchers, people watching and enjoying the cooking demonstration which is also on every Tuesday and Friday at 12. Make sure you hang around after the tour to watch this and grab a few recipes to try with the fresh produce surrounding you.
Dandenong Market is a fusion of flavours, cultures and cuisines and this tour is an amazing introduction to all the bargains, tastes and hidden secrets it has to offer. It’s every pasty white Aussie girl’s dream.
Plus, you get a free doughnut.
Go on, treat yo’self.
Check it out on the Dandenong Market website and call Market Management to book your spot on the next tour.
Corner Clow and Cleeland Streets, Clow St, Dandenong VIC 3175
Phone:(03) 9701 3850
Amy’s love of food is only matched by her love of fitness and her fear of choosing the wrong dish on the menu. She loves to explore new places and old stalwarts, constantly torn between ticking a cafe off her “to try” list and revisiting the favourites. She owns way too many cookbooks but the pleasure she gets from experimenting with new flavours and serving them to her family and friends far outweighs any debt incurred.
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