Steve Chan is one of the low-key coolest people in the Melbourne food world. The chef at Sleepy’s Cafe and Wine Bar in Carlton North has only been cooking professionally for the past year, but he tells Broadsheet he’s done “everything else front-of-house” in the industry.
At Sleepy’s Chan brings a fresh perspective to wine bar food and makes next-generation Chinese-Australian dishes including bacon and egg breakfast dumplings, anchovies on youtiao (Chinese donuts) and “(deep) fried rice”.
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When he’s not cooking, Chan admits he can usually be found eating. So we asked the chef to share some of his favourite spots around town.
What’s your go-to for a quick takeaway?
Recently I’ve been craving Falco’s egg and salad sandwich. It’s such a generous portion of fresh veg. Being satisfied with a big volume of healthy food – what a win.
How about lunch on the go?
I’m a sucker for a banh mi. N. Lee in Collingwood will always have my heart. Old-fashioned pork loaf with extra mayo and pate. Can’t go wrong.
And for a drink and snacks?
Napier Quarter is my home away from home. Their wine list is always enable-y in the best way, as [is] their food. A new head chef’s just taken over, so I’m definitely so keen to see what happens.
Where do you go if you’re looking for inspiration?
Osteria Ilaria! Sitting at the bar having a few snacks and definitely a dessert to finish, paired with a few half glasses of wine. There’s always something that piques my interest with the way they do both their snacks and dessert, and their wine list has always been a fun one to compare and indulge in.
For comfort food?
Ping’s Dumpling Kitchen in Preston. Super delicious and affordable Chinese food. I will travel to the ends of the world for their lu rou fan [braised pork rice]. It takes me back to Taiwan.
Where do you go for a big meal?
La Pinta is hands down my favourite place to eat in Melbourne. Approachable. Amazing. Astounding – you’ll never have a bad time at La Pinta. Their food always has me feeling things and the service is so familial. You’re always taken care of.
What’s good for a first date?
I’m usually drink-centric, so I like intimate bars like One or Two. If I’m considering food as well it would be a place like Parcs. I haven’t been since they reopened – and am very keen to go – but I loved old Parcs for its casualness even though it still delivered the high quality you’d expect with its food, drinks and flavours.
What’s your go-to hangover food?
Mighty McMuffin from McDonald’s. I live two minutes from a McDonald’s, which is dangerous enough by itself, but that egg, muffin, sausage and bacon game – it just hits all the right notes. Even the size of it, not too big and not too small. Perfection.
What’s your favourite dessert or sweet treat?
A one-litre tub of Connoisseur cookies and cream [ice-cream] from the local supermarket. Indulgence at its finest. And even better when it’s on special.
Looking for more? Broadsheet writers pick their favourite Melbourne dishes.