15 Celestial Ave
Melbourne, VIC 3000
I’m rather fond of Cantonese food, but I never have it as often as I crave it, which is every night, when I walk past Crown Palace and all its glorious smells on my way home. But aside from the fact that Cantonese food is more comfort food than adventure time for me, do you know how hard it is to order for two at a Cantonese restaurant? That is, if you don’t want to end up eating protein-x on carb-y every time.
And besides, Supper Inn has always been here, and always will be, so what’s the rush? It is often affectionately referred to as the Asian version of The Waiter’s Club, and it’s definitely impossible to think of one and not the other. Not only are they both in a dingy little laneway and up a dodgy set of stairs, they even have the same plywood lining the stairwell. But unlike The Waiter’s Club, Supper Inn has a $2000 bottle of 24 year old wine if you’re not into the BYO.
|Century Duck Egg with Pork Congee ($7.5)|
Despite being known for consistently good (or bad, depending on who you ask) Cantonese, the real drawcard that everyone can agree on is their range of congee. And because I’m a traditionalist at heart, I had a big, steamy bowl of soul-hugging Century Duck Egg with Pork Congee ($7.5). This was perfect in every way, from the silken consistency to the meaty fragrance, all the way down to the generous chunks of pork and egg.
|Century Duck Egg with Pork Congee ($7.5)/Chinese Donut ($3)|
Just like how every food blogger is nothing without her trusty foodie-in-crime, congee is best served with a plate of Chinese Donuts ($3). And whilst these were cold and a bit oily, they still remained fairly crisp, and still had Chris exclaiming at just how well they went with the congee.
|Chicken, Chinese Sausage, and Shiitake Mushroom Claypot ($22)|
To supplement our congee, we ordered a sizzling Chicken, Chinese Sausage, and Shiitake Mushroom Claypot ($22) with Rice ($1pp). The first bite was a triple whammy from the umami of juicy mushrooms, fatty slices of sausage, and chicken pieces so tender that the bones were liable to break into shards. But the best bits were at the edges, where the heat from the pot had caramelised the chicken and sausage, giving it a smoky, charred aroma over the gingery soy gravy.
In my personal experience, opinions on Melbourne’s ‘institutions’ tend to be very much polarised, and whilst Pellegrini’s isn’t a place I’m very fond of, Supper Inn definitely is. The food was great, but even if it wasn't, I would still happily return for the bona fide congee any time of day or night. And Supper Inn isn’t just a name – they’re open to hours that would put some bars to shame.
Rating: 14.5/20 – congee inn my mouth.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.