Understatedly kitsch with framed illustrations hung along its deep brown interiors, Peko Peko sits like a little, playful child amongst South Melbourne’s austere office buildings and apartments. Not to be mistaken with the Peko Peko on Smith Street in Collingwood (same name but different owners).
Over the years, Peko Peko’s lunch crowds have translated to long lines and reserved signs on tables. But while frustrating, this speaks mostly for the quality of the food. At its roots it’s Taiwanese, but modern Japanese and Western influences permeate the menu. Combining the Japanese bento box and Westernised Taiwanese cuisine is the cafe’s renowned Peko Box while it’s most popular box, the pop chicken combines authentically Taiwanese fried chicken cubes with the Japanese bento box style. The cafe also batters and fries entrees of wasabi mayo prawns, crumbed chicken wings and spring rolls of various incarnations. Other dishes include Pho-like beef broths and minced pork in five-spice broth on rice.
Peko Peko is a cute way of saying hungry in Japanese, but when you leave this lively, casual eatery, you’ll be far from it.