Where can you find a midnight supper place, something to warm you up when you landed in Melbourne late at night? Supper Inn in the Melbourne Chinatown of course!
Located opposite another of my favourite in the Melbourne Chinatown is the historic Supper Inn. It can be found in Celestial Avenue – which sounds heavenly but in reality, is a slightly stinky laneway with a dumpster at one end. Despite the awkward location, it has served generations of overseas Chinese students that needed a cheap and delicious place to eat after clubbing in the neighbourhood. This night-owl institution pumps out Cantonese flavours until 2am every night.
Like anything with the attainment of great age, normal rules don’t apply at Supper Inn where the menu is as old as religion since it opened in 1977. Maybe except for adjustment due to inflation – the price has gone one decimal place to the right since it first started – everything here was the same as it was when it opened with few exceptions that cater to the changing demographics of Chinese students; concessions were given to the growing taste for Sichuan dishes with a few more addition of that genre.
The downstairs window is blanketed in stickers straddling the Good Food Guide/Cheap Eats divide – no small beer being both affordable and acclaimed. Two generations of airconditioning units are punched into the wall, the superseded ones a memento of timber veneer’s heyday.
You have to queue on a narrow flight of wooden stairs to get into a dingy dining room. The specials plastered on the wall were not so special – they looked like the same ones we saw on our first visit at least 15 years ago – but the food is still as delicious as always!
Its hero dishes are arguably the roasted suckling pig and the chicken congee but with a 200+ strong menu and many more if you can tell the waiters what you want in Mandarin or Cantonese means there’s plenty of scope for experimentation.
XO pippies were meaty little numbers in a glossy, stocky and intense sauce with more than a hint of fried shrimp. They’re memorable with a throat-tickling heat.
The best thing to eat here is the congee and there are many variety of ingredients to choose from. I went straight for something I have not had for a long time even in Singapore. Peppered with cubes of pig’s blood pudding and a healthy smattering of ginger and scallions, the thick Cantonese-style porridge is like a warm embrace from a long-lost friend, especially after a long trip away from your comfort food.
Kailan raised in Australia was bigger than what we get at home, but they were not as tasty as the HK variety. This dish was a miss because of ingredient, but the wokhei was evident so I would suggest a different vegetable.
They ran out of BBQ suckling pig so we settled for the next best thing. Crispy skin and soft, well flavoured flesh, they have nailed the roast pork belly which came with the same hoisin sauce that they served with the suckling pig. This was the small serving.
It came as the last dish. At $8 each, they were a bargain, but they have fumbled the cooking by over-steaming the scallops. The scallops were of a good size, only if the cooking was more stringent.
Supper Inn remained the favourite among the service industry folks after they knocked off from their shifts, as well as party-goers after a late night out. This is because of solid, unpretentious food delivered with the same consistency all these time.
The staff were very efficient too and pleasingly brusque. Are they the best in Melbourne? Not necessary, but they are definitely the best choice around and conveniently open at midnight.
Supper Inn Chinese Restaurant
15 Celestial Avenue, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel : +62 (03) 9663 4759
Visited Jan 2023
0 comments on “Supper Inn @ Melbourne”