Upon entering, I was already hit with smell of aromatic food left, right and centre. I didn’t even know where to start! The festival operates under a token system, exchange for your prepaid ticket or you can pay cash on the spot.
After taking in a smart decision to browse the stalls outside as well as inside, I can definitely say I was very impressed by the variety of food options on offer.
Calamari Taco + Pork Al Pastor, Taco, Cabbage and Coriander – El Loco
First up were these hand held bundles of joy from El Loco. The pork definitely packed some punch and was really enjoyable against the crisp cabbage. The calamari looked too good to deny but it had a bit too much ginger for my liking.
Steamed Scallop and Prawn Shumai – Mr Wong
I was pretty excited to try out the Mr Wong stall because I’ve been eyeing them for a while now. I’m a big fan of Shumai at Yum Cha so had to order it. This particular one was still hot, firm and moist, retaining in all the goodness. No faults, just wish they offered some sriracha on the side.
Ceviche – Sushi E
Steering away from the standard avocado roll and sashimi, we wanted to try something new – ceviche. The texture was very similar to sashimi but it was much thinner and a slightly citrus flavour, really great to compliment the blue skies of Coogee.
Pea and Avocado Guacmole, Tortillas – Papi Chulo
This dish definitely wins best value for money. I was surprised by the generous serving for crispy tortilla chips. The guacamole was great, especially with the fried onions, mixing up this classic bite.
Nashville Style Hot Chicken, Pickles – Papi Chulo
Fried chicken and pickles? I’m there. The chicken was crunchy on the outside whilst soft and juicy on the inside. Pickles were great and tangy to cut through the savoury chicken.
I honestly wish I could have held the pickle in my left hand and the chicken on the right while taking alternative bites between them. Too bad I was holding my camera.
Pink snapper sashimi with, serrano chilli, fish sauce and sugar vinaigrette – Oyster Bar Menu
It was my first time trying pink snapper sashimi and it was lovely! Firm texture without an overbearing fishy taste, great with the sugar vinaigrette.
Maiala – San Marzano, fior di latte, hot salami, Italian ham, parmesan – Pizza Bar Menu
I actually grew up in LOVE with salami. Like, no joke. I remember when I was in primary school, I was discussing with my friend that when I was ‘successful’ enough, I would buy myself a whole log of salami and just bite into it. None of this “slices” crap that my mum insists on. Moving on, you could definitely tell that I enjoyed this pizza (even if it wasn’t a log of salami). There was a great spice in the salami, balancing well with the strong parmesan. This slice is definitely packed with personality.
Gamberi – San Marzano, fior di latte, prawns, cherry tomatoes, chilli, parsley – Pizza Bar Menu
A great combo of the prawns and chilli, balancing well with the juicy cherry tomatoes that would pop in your mouth. The base was lovely and thin, focusing on the vibrant toppings.
Organic black quinoa with hazelnuts, shaved young zucchini, parsley, mint and Willowbrae goat’s curd – Coogee Pavilion Kitchen
The flavours of this delicate mix of wholesome, organic produce balanced out very well in terms of taste and texture. The hazelnuts and goats curd complemented the vegetables very well, especially the hazelnuts which gave a ‘crunch’ factor.
Hot roasted leg ham with salt and white pepper crackling and a soft bun – Coogee Pavilion Kitchen
This one is a bit more heartier than it’s label mates at Coogee Pavilion Kitchen. The savoury leg ham was accented in the milky soft bun. Overall, a great hand held treat.
Cuttlefish with chilli, garlic, parsley and lemon – Coogee Pavilion Kitchen
It was really great to see that it was firm cuts of the cuttlefish, rather than thin strands covered in tremendous amounts of batter. Once again, another seaside favourite well executed.
Mango Sorbet + Hazelnut Chocolate Icecream – Ice cream Bar
A great treat to end the day, soothing down our palettes after a long day. Mango sorbet had a pleasant crisp fruity tang whilst the Hazelnut Chocolate replicated the creamy smooth Nutella.
Merivale, you’ve done it again!