Who eats Peking duck at 2am? “Taxi drivers, cleaners, some chefs and workers from surrounding discos”, says night manager Frankie Lee of Russell Street’s China Bar. It’s one of the quick-service caffs feeding the folks who clock on when the office towers have emptied out and even the trams have stopped work. Baljeet Singh, supervisor at Red Pepper on Bourke Street thinks of the restaurant as a weekend sanctuary of sorts. “When people finish with their drinks, they come to take rest and have a meal.”
So, next time you pull a late one in the city, consider ducking into one of these places for a fast, fortifying, no-frills feed.
235 Russell Street, City 9639 1633
Roast ducks, dangling in the window one minute, on your plate the next. It’s a popular dish among the Chinese, Malaysian and Indian plates served here, which include laksa, yum cha (BBQ pork buns, prawn dumplings) and gingery Hainanese chicken rice.
Open Sun-Thurs 11am-3am; Fri-Sat 11am-7am
14 Bourke Street, City 9654 5714
Boneless tandoor-baked butter chicken, with naan and rice, costs not much more than the price of a few pots. It’s a good feed whatever the time. Other northern Indian dishes include makhani (with chicken or paneer) and chicken tikka masala.
Open Daily 10am-3am
Sho Noodle Bar
Crown Casino, Main Gaming Floor 9292 6885
Just beyond the blips of the pokie machines on Crown’s main gaming floor, Sho is a relatively glitzy late-nighter. At weekends, if you’ve been lucky, you might spend your winnings on wok-tossed chilli prawns or whole barramundi with sweet and sour sauce. If not, nibble on some dim sum. Note: Sho closes at 2am on weekends.
Open Sun-Thurs noon-11.30pm; Fri-Sat noon-2am
204 Little Bourke Street, City 9663 2347
The word on the street is that Ling Nam’s pipis in XO sauce and fried Chinese doughnut makes a super late-night supper. In the neon-glowing heart of Chinatown, and with abalone tanks in the window, shiny Chinese dishes are served here til 3.30am every day.
Open Daily 5.30pm-3.30am
Basement, 26 King Street, City 9670 3232
KFC, Korean-style fried chicken, comes in four flavours: orginal golden battered, glistening sweet chilli, sweet soy garlic and spicy. Whether you buy a half or a whole chook, it’s cut into bite-friendly bits and served with, not fries, but cabbage salad and radish pickles.
Simone Egger is the co-editor of The Age Cheap Eats 2012.
What's your favourite spot for a late night or early morning feed? Tell us in the comment section below.