The Kadhai chicken and lamb Vindaloo at Red Pepper.
The Kadhai chicken and lamb Vindaloo at Red Pepper. Photo: Eddie Jim

Simone Egger

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.

China Bar
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

A late-night spread at Red Pepper: sarson da saag, red curry, rice, naan, samosas, chutneys and lassi.
A late-night spread at Red Pepper: sarson da saag, red curry, rice, naan, samosas, chutneys and lassi. Photo: Eddie Jim

Red Pepper
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

Ling Nam
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

Chefs tucking in to a late-night feed at China Bar.
Chefs tucking in to a late-night feed at China Bar. Photo: Eddie Jim

Gami
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.
Open 5.30pm-3am

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.