Taking a break from indulging in retail therapy or looking for a cheap and tasty work lunch? These hidden food court eats have you covered. 

Jom Corner, Kmart centre

Spend your lunch break in Kuala Lumpur at Jom Corner. A hidden gem in the Kmart Centre, it serves classic dishes like Hainanese chicken rice and Malaysian fried chicken (ayam goreng). Plus moorish sides like peanut butter toast and crispy, flavour-packed curry puffs. This is one of the only spots in Melbourne to try air bungkus. The hawker-style pulled milk tea (teh tarik) is served in a plastic bag to sip on the go. 

A selection of Malaysian restaurant dishes including laksa and coffee in a plastic bag.
Jom Corner

Coppe Pan, Melbourne Central

If gourmet sandwich spots are a bit of a stretch for your current budget, Melbourne Central's Coppe Pan has you covered. These thick, juicy cuts of crumbed chicken breast cushioned in freshly baked bread will set you back a slight $7. You can also skip straight to dessert and enjoy a matcha custard filled cube puff, or take home a whole loaf of fluffy Japanese shokupan.

Guljak Topokki Chicken, Emporium basement

Why settle for one impossibly delicious Korean street food when you can have two? This famous Korean takeaway joint in Emporium dishes up topokki (spicy rice cakes) with K-style fried chicken. The chicken is perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, and you can get it coated in your choice of sauce. The fresh and zingy lemon cream version is a must try. Load up on sides and grape juice for the full experience.

A restaurant table full of fried chicken and other Korean dishes.
Guljak Topokki Chicken

Inasal Express, Melbourne Central

A new Filipino food spot awaits at Inasal Express. Tucked away off the La Trobe Street entrance to Melbourne Central, the crew serves 'blow out' meat feasts and flame-grilled meal sets. Try epic pork knuckle, sizzling chicken maryland and crispy skin salmon. All served with a cute heart shaped portion of rice. Be sure to peruse the dessert menu. Featuring halo halo crushed ice with pandan jelly, caramel banana bread flan (lechenana) and more.

Wow Crepes, Kmart Centre

Chinese crepes (Jianbing) have finally made their way to the Melbourne mainstream. A thin layer of wheat pancake mixture is fried on a hotplate at fiery temperatures for instant crispiness. Stuffed with carrots, cabbage, spring onion and more veg, plus your choice of meaty filling or Sichuan bean curd. In-house creations include a chicken schnitzel Jianbing and a chinese-donut stuffed pancake. Find Wow at Shop 16 inside the Kmart Centre.

Two rolled flat wraps on a table in a food court
Wow Crepes

Kowloon Cafe, Kmart Centre

This cafe is loved by locals for its cheap eats and lunch sets. Pop into the Kmart Centre and grab a seat in the busy Kowloon Cafe. Choose a house-made drink and your meal set from the daily specials. It won't cost you more than $16.50. Favourites include cheese baked pork chop and teriyaki chicken on rice. Pair it with a refreshing iced lemon tea or milk tea.

One Plus Piece, Melbourne Central

Pay a visit to Anime-theme cafe One Plus Piece. It specialises in Asian fusion burgers and milkshakes, with a nod to the long-running show, One Piece. Try the one-of-a-kind sushi burger, swapping bread buns for sushi rice and crispy nori. The burger is filled with crunchy but tender fried chicken, Chinese sausage, fresh chilli, lettuce and cheese sauce. The loaded shakes are a must-try too!

A fried chicken burger with a little cartoon cut out on top
One Plus Piece

Me Dee, The Paramount Centre

Tucked away inside The Paramount Centre food court, Me Dee is an unassuming shop serving authentic Thai food. Order cheap classics like boat noodles, basil and chilli stir-fried duck and massaman curry. Or try hard-to-find dishes like oyster omelettes and house-made fish balls in green curry. Don’t leave without tasting a classic Thai dessert.

Dohtonbori, District Docklands

The first of its kind in Melbourne, Dohtonbori is a popular export from Japan specialising in okonomiyaki. Plate up fresh cabbage pancakes at the helm of your personal teppanyaki hot plate. Then load it with kimchi, lobster, pork belly and more. Head to The District Docklands to go DIY at this Japanese gem.

Okonomiyaki and a frozen green drink on a restaurant table.
Dohtonbori

Potto, Southern Cross Outlet

Don't knock this outlet food court until you've tried it. Potto is the definition of a hidden gem, serving hearty Asian-style salad bowls made from scratch. We're talking handmade curry sauce, local veggies and fresh meat delivered daily. Order lemongrass chicken and crispy pork belly served with a rainbow of veggies and zingy sauces. They also serve up a steady stream of perfectly gooey Portugese tarts and refreshing iced coffee.

FooDao Express, Melbourne Central

Venture down to FooDao Express in the lower ground food court at Melbourne Central for fast and filling Chinese street food snacks. Order giant ribs, porridge, congee and dumplings galore. Be sure to try the house specialty – baked-to-order fooshao wheat pastries. They're stuffed with your choice of filling, perhaps black pepper beef or spicy Korean chicken and cheese. Homemade drinks include a flower tea set and sour plum tea.

More hidden food court spots

Hanaichi

Hanaichi

Serving authentic, healthy and modern Japanese dishes at a reasonable price.

Thai Town Melbourne

Thai Town Melbourne

A hawker style experience with different Thai food stations, a mini grocery bar and live music.

BYRDI

BYRDI

A bar that is uniquely Australian where the local environment informs the drinks.

Gacha Cafe

Gacha Cafe

A cute takeaway counter serving Japanese drinks and desserts and a Gacha Gacha toy spot.

NUTTEA Melbourne Central

NUTTEA Melbourne Central

NUTTEA make nut mylk tea that is vegan friendly.

Royal Stacks

Royal Stacks

Burger joint offering American-style burgers at Emporium.

Tetsujin

Tetsujin

The essence of Tokyo in Melbourne's central city with a sushi train and authentic Japanese barbeque.

Last updated on Fri 5 Jan 2024

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