For four decades north-siders have made the weekly pilgrimage to the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, to peruse the rows upon rows of some of the freshest produce you can find in Canberra and the surrounding region.
One step into the markets and all your senses are ignited. A stroll through the space uncovers every colour imaginable; from the bright and shiny reds, greens and yellows of the fruit and veg; to the darker, marbled tones of succulent meats and sauces.
Sounds of goodies being packaged, friendly traders yelling ‘come get your fresh lemons!’ and a constant murmur of happy customers creates a bustling atmosphere, while your lungs are filled with the aroma of roasting coffee, freshly-baked bread and blooms from the florist.
All these ingredients combine to create the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets in which we all know and love, but what many of us may not know is that it’s so much more than a place to buy your groceries. It’s a dining destination in itself, boasting a variety of cafes, bakeries and eateries.
Let OutInCanberra take you on a journey through our series of articles that reveal the hidden gems of the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets – the perfect place to take a break from shopping, catch up with family and friends, and grab a coffee or bite to eat.
Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Thai – there’s a reason why we all love traditional Asian fare. It’s tasty, sizzling, bursting with flavour, and can whisk you to the bustling streets of Asia as it hits your taste buds.
Luckily for us, Canberrans don’t have to travel far to get a taste of authentic Asian street food and culinary delights. Discover a slice of true Asia right here in the heart of the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and make it your next destination for Asian cuisine.
Heng Hing Roast Inn
One step inside Heng Hing Roast Inn and you are greeted with the lovely aromas of East Asia before being welcomed by the beaming smile of owner Peter Chak.
For a man with little words, Peter sure knows how to serve up a delicious dish filled with lots of love and care. After all cooking is a universal language!
Plenty of large photographs of the dishes are on display, making your choice an easy one when it comes to perusing the affordable, extensive and generous menu. Once you’ve done the hard task of narrowing down what to order you can watch the expert chefs effortless toss your dish’s ingredients together in their scorching woks in the open kitchen.
A popular destination for locals, Heng Hing boasts a delectable mixed barbecue charcuterie – the hanging Peking duck is sure to lure you in – and you can find Peter working away, skilfully chopping up meat and basting it in tasty, glossy juices and his signature secret ingredients.
Meat-lovers can’t go past trying a bit of everything from the barbecue, including Roast Duck, Soya Sauce Chicken, Pork Sausage, Roast Pork and Barbecue Pork – all delicately calved onto your plate strait from the tantalizing display window. But beware, this dish is not for the faint-hearted.
Peter and his team of passionate staff are very friendly and polite, and even bring you a hot tea to enjoy with your meal.
Dine in or takeaway, Heng Hing Roast Inn offers a diverse range of traditional and authentic Chinese dishes, which has been passed down and perfected over the generations of Peter’s family. The restaurant also uses only the best quality ingredients to create fresh, mouth-watering meals to order every day.
Our top picks off the menu are the Szechuan Fish Fillets, Honey Black Pepper Beef, Chicken Chow Mein Noodles accompanied by the classic Special Fried Rice. Another favourite is the Roast Duck Laksa, this creamy noodle dish is sure to warn you up on a cold Canberra night!
Heng Hing also offers a range of desserts, vegetarian options, entrees and traditional drinks to top off your dining experience.
A meal at Heng Hing will leave your tummy feeling satisfied, content and very much loved, so drop in to visit Peter and the friendly team next time you are at the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets.
Saigon Street Food and Groceries
Your one-stop shop for Asian groceries and Vietnamese cuisine, Saigon Street Food and Groceries offers a variety of Asian-style ingredients, found no-where else in the Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, as well as delicious flavoursome dishes.
The shop is run by Jason Phan and his family, with his wife working front-of-house while he works his culinary magic in the kitchen. It’s a true family affair when Jason’s son pops in after school to help with the service too and you are definitely made to feel welcome and part of the family when you visit.
While you wait for your food to be prepared, venture down through to the back of the store as the aromas of spices take over your senses. Here you can find a variety of Asian noodles, pastries, spices, sauces, fresh tofu, packaged cold meats, and authentic Chinese teas – all the ingredients to attempt to make one of Jason’s recipes at home!
A favourite choice among customers is the Vietnamese Pork Roll, also known as ‘Banh Mi Thit’ – a Vietnamese baguette filled with pork, cucumber, spring onion, pickled carrot, pork liver pate and topped with coriander and chilli. A good slathering of special mayonnaise is essential to cool the heat from the chilli, and the whole thing is finished with a light soy dressing. In the end you’ll have a perfectly balanced sandwich that is full of flavour and freshness – perfect for lunch on-the-go.
Other crowd pleasers include the Crispy-skin Chicken with Egg Noodles, Rice Paper Rolls with Hoisin Sauce, Beef Noodle Soup, Cracking Pork Roll and, my top picks; the Grilled Pork and Spring Rolls with Rice Vermicelli Noodles, and the Combination Broken Rice – a customary dish that I grew up eating and loving, coming from a Vietnamese family myself.
Whether you’re dining in or in search of some cheap and cheerful takeaway, Saigon Street Food and Groceries is your go-to if you’re on the hunt for fun and exciting Vietnamese street food.
And if you love what Jason has whipped up for you, he will happily recommend ingredients straight from his onsite grocer for you to recreate the dish with your own twist.