In November 2020, Melbourne almost lost late-night Chinatown institution Ling Nan for good. But after a year of silence, part-owner Sherri Mong shared news of its revival.
The decades-old Chinese diner had swapped Little Bourke for Lonsdale Street, in a crisp, white-walled space with the same menu, the same chef and many of the same staff.
To this day, Ling Nan is a no-frills restaurant that knows exactly what it is. Look at the laminated menus, paper tablecloths and brusque service, and you’ll know too. But the food always hits the spot, and the place serves it until 2am on a weeknight.
Make sure you order the generous serving of XO pippies. They pack a meaty punch and arrive in an aromatic sauce that smacks of fried shrimp alongside some crispy Chinese doughnuts. And don’t miss out on the shredded duck pancakes, prawn toast and chicken ribs, either.
Ask staff members what they recommend, though, and they’ll silently step aside and point to the various critters nervously circling around the restaurant’s live tanks. There’s abalone, Queensland mud crab, prawns and lobsters, to name a few. Ling Nan allows BYO wine, but you probably guessed that already.