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February 11, 2020

The Market Plaza Food Court does not have the coronavirus

Stay calm and proceed directly to Seng Kee Yum Cha for the most delicious fun kwor in Adelaide.

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As coronavirus hysteria peaks globally, Adelaide needs to guard against misinformation and lazy bigotry.

Coronavirus fears and realities – like the 5,800 Chinese students who haven’t yet arrived for the start of the university year – are taking a toll on the Market Plaza Food Court and we’re keen to make sure our favourite Bi Bim Bap and Katsu Curry shop, as well as the peerless Seng Kee Yum Cha, survive this trying time.


Market Plaza Food Court
Moonta Street, Adelaide 5000
Mon-Thu: 10:30am ’til 4pm
Fri: 10:30am ’til 9pm
Sat-Sun: 10:30am ’til 4pm

After spending an hour moving around the food court and speaking with the traders, the best thing we felt we could do was to dispel some simple myths and misunderstandings about the virus.

Manager of Silver Star Café, Mei tells us about her colleague, Karen, who was verbally abused by a customer for wearing a face mask while working last week.

“[The customer] said to Karen, ‘You’re going to serve me with that mask?’ And she said, ‘yeah’. So she was like, ‘Eff off,’ really offensive, and she was rude: ‘If you’ve got the virus, just go back to your country,’” Mei recalls.

“[Karen] hasn’t been out of Australia for five years, so it’s the whole misconception thing.

“She was really upset, and she was trying to explain to her that she’s not sick at all, but she’s just wearing it as a precaution for herself and for whoever that she serves. People don’t really understand, they just think, Oh, you’re wearing the mask, therefore you’ve got coronavirus.

“It’s hard for people that deal in the customer service industry, because obviously they have their health to think about. We don’t wish it upon anyone, but we take the necessary precaution that we can for the safety of ourselves and of others.”

Face masks do not equal contagion.

The Department of Health’s frequently updated coronavirus counter has the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in South Australia at two, of a total of 15 confirmed cases Australia-wide, so the fear is currently hanging heavier than the reality.

And while the World Health Organisation’s advice is that a healthy person only needs to use a mask if they’re taking care of a person suspected of having coronavirus, or if they themselves are coughing or sneezing, face masks have long been used outside of the context of global pandemics.

Throughout 2014-15, face masks even transcended their cheap, throwaway nature, making it onto fashion runways in China and Paris.


“My friend, she [wears] a mask when she has asthma, for hay fever and everything. So it’s not because she’s got the virus, it’s because she’s protecting herself,” Mei says.

“If it was last year, no one would have cared if she wore a mask, but because now the virus is going on, everything is a big mess.”

Market Plaza Food Court vendors expect the reduced trade to last as long as the public’s concern is trained on the coronavirus outbreak, which shows no sign of abating just yet.

If you’ve budgeted for a lunch out this week, now is a great time to spend a bit of cash at the Central Market Plaza to support one of the city’s most varied and (usually) high-energy eating destinations. We can wholeheartedly recommend:

Ricky’s Chicken Rice – order it fried
Seng Kee Yum Cha – order fun kwor, sticky rice, siu mai, prawn dumplings and radish cake + chilli oil
Contemporary Japanese Deli – Katsu curry
Mum’s Kimbab – Bi Bim Bap

Taken from our ‘How to’ guide published in 2014 – still good.

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