Greatest late night snacks from around the world

Street food is about to die in Bangkok, but Thai noodles will still be available after hours - in Singapore. (Via Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan's blog,

Right after City Hall announced the end of street food, the Bloomberg list of Greatest Night Snacks around the world was released, this time without Bangkok. Here is the Bloomberg story.

It's not scientifically proved, but humans have been known to crave a specific kind of food when it gets late at night.

Specifically, you're looking for something indulgent - greasy, salty, cheesy, or chewy.

Chefs are no different - except when they get the late night munchies, they are armed with a wider vocabulary of snacking. Not only do they have training and travels to lean on, they are night owls by design. On an average day, once you are finished eating, that's when they eat.

So what can the rest of us learn from these masters about the most satisfying treats for the wee hours?

The answers, from some of the world's great chefs, include such lesser-known regional delights from around the globe as grilled animal parts, caviar, clams, and many, many fried things. Here's what they dream of eating late at night, and where they find it.

Chicken Croquettes (Sao Paulo)

Recommended by: Ignacio Mattos, from Estela in New York

For this Uruguay-born chef, the best late-night cure-all is an egg-shaped fried croquette stuffed with creamy chicken, a staple at bars in Brazil.

Reasoning: "Coxinha de Frango is like a large croquette that they serve all over Brazil. My favourite are the ones in Sao Paulo. First of all, it's really hard to find coxinha made with such care; what makes them even better is that I find the best ones in bars. I don't know what the secret is, but they've got a perfect, creamy stuffing with shredded chicken, with a crispy, fried crust. Definitely one of my favourite late-night snacks."

Suadera Tacos (Everywhere)

Recommended by: Daniela Soto-Innes, from Cosme in New York

The chef at outstanding, modern Mexican restaurant Cosme craves messy grilled-steak tacos after a big night out.

Reasoning: "If I'm getting food after a night out, I'm definitely craving something spicy, because it's way more comforting and delicious. So tacos shops are my favourite places to stop. Maybe it's just the Mexican in me - we love spice and fat for curing a hangover. I can always find a good place that's open late, and it can't be fancy. Tacos are the best when they're messy, anyway. Suadero [grilled steak] tacos are my favourite, extra everything on top: onions, cilantro, cilantro, salsas."

Hot Dogs with Mashed Potatoes and Fried Onions (Sweden)

Recommended by: Marcus Samuelsson, from Red Rooster in New York

For Samuelsson, the best end-of-night treat is an all-in-one dish with which he has a long history.

Reasoning: "In Sweden, it's a tradition to eat tunnbrodsrulle: a hot dog wrapped up in a buttered tunnbrod (Swedish flatbread) with mashed potatoes, fried and/or raw onions, and shrimp salad after a night out. It's hard to beat! Growing up in Gothenburg, my friends and I would hit the bars and discos, then tuck into Swedish hot dogs to remedy all the beer we'd consumed. I have great memories of eating those hot dogs in the early hours of the morning, especially in the summer, when it's already light out. And it's still a favourite."

Grilled Pig Parts (Tokyo)

Recommended by: Daniel Skurnick, from Le Coucou in New York

Daniel Skurnick is the pastry chef at the smash hit French restaurant, Le Coucou, but he's spent time in Tokyo, where he discovered an incredible, post-whiskey, street food speciality.

Reasoning: "After a long day in Tokyo eating demon spicy ramen and tonkatsu, nights would lead to beer and shochu and highballs, stumbling from one tiny, four-person bar to the next. The smart move is to head out to the countless yakiton stalls that specialize in every part of the pig. As you order more beers and shochu, the skewers start arriving: chewy tongue, tangy liver. Then you decide it's a good idea to order the "other" parts- rectum, spleen, womb. Why not? They smell delicious; and the drunken salaryman next to you has been talking for the last 20 minutes about Miley Cyrus. Plus the subways stopped running four hours ago, and someone just bought another round."

Cantonese Clams with XO Sauce (Golden Century, Sydney)

Recommended by: Dave Chang, from the Momofuku group

The founder of the epic, Korean-accented restaurant empire swears by an Australian Chinatown mainstay.

Reasoning: "My favourite late night place is Golden Century in Sydney. It's open until 4 a.m., late enough you can always go after service. I always get the pippis [local clams] with XO sauce and crispy noodles. It's my favourite dish on the planet, a Cantonese seafood noodle feast. This place is like the Balthazar of Sydney, and it's my favourite late night spot anywhere. I've tried to make versions of it in New York, but it doesn't work without the pippis - and whatever they do at Golden Century."

Stir-fried Noodles, Singapore

Recommended by: Daniel Boulud, from the Daniel Boulud empire

Boulud is renowned as one of the last chefs standing on many nights. When he's in Singapore, where he has a Db Bistro, he will inevitably make his way to one of the food stalls and get spicy noodles before going to bed.

Reasoning: Char Kuay Teow (the Thai dish) is a stir-fried rice noodle dish you traditionally find in Singapore's night markets.

It's similar to pad Thai, with Chinese sausage, egg, shrimp, black cockles, and crispy pork lard, fried with dark soy sauce, which brings a deeply satisfying sweet and salty flavour. After a busy service at the restaurant, when you're really worked hard and your stomach is growling, there's almost nothing more satisfying and comforting. One of my favourites is from Rasapura Masters. I get the Beef Char Quay Teo Extra Spicy. I like it because it has a lot of "wok hei" - the flavour of a hot seasoned wok - and for takeaway, it comes in a little, folded-paper pouch that makes it easy to eat if you're going out from there."

Chicken Oyster Skewers (Yakitori Totto, New York)

Recommended by: Eric Ripert, from Le Bernardin in New York

Eric Ripert's travels have taken him around the world, but the spot he likes best lies blocks from his elite, seafood temple of a restaurant, Le Bernardin.

Reasoning: "Everyone needs a go-to neighbourhood favourite, and Yakitori Totto is my secret spot for Japanese cravings when I leave my restaurant, whatever time it is. I sit at the counter and watch the guys at work. I eat everything, but I will always get the chicken oysters [the oyster-shaped nugget of thigh meat]. I like the whole vibe and experience; it almost feels like you're in Tokyo as you climb the stairs. The dishes are very flavourful and very authentic."

French Onion Soup (Au Pied de Cochon, Paris)

Recommended by: Pierre Koffmann, from now-shuttered Berkeley in London

British chef Pierre Koffmann picks this hearty brasserie classic as his go-to: onion soup, in a meaty broth, topped with a sheath of melted cheese.

Reasoning: "I always like to eat the food of the country I am visiting, so if I am in Thailand, I enjoyed street food. In Italy, I go for a plate of pasta or charcuterie. Spain is very easy, because they eat quite late and you go for tapas. It is hard to eat late in France, but in Paris you can go to Au Pied de Cochon, which is open 24 hours. It's where I like the very traditional onion soup."

Gin & Tonic (everywhere)

Recommended by: Jose Andres, of Washington-based Think Food Group

The seasoned, Spanish-born chef eschews eating late at night. Instead, he favours the cocktail for which his native country is famed, wherever in the world he finds himself.

Reasoning: "When I'm travelling, I'm not going to be hungry, because I already ate at two restaurants for lunch and at at least two for dinner. All I want is a gin and tonic, that's my late night food. I find the best bar that's closest and open the latest. I order it with lime or lemon squeezed in; it makes the drink more of a digestive when I'm so full."

Hot Salt Bagels (Brick Lane Beigel, London)

Recommended by: Dominique Ansel, from Dominique Ansel Bakery empire, and by Mark Rosati, of Shake Shack

Dominique Ansel, who was recently named World's Best Pastry Chef in the World's 50 Best Restaurants, favours a baked good unlike anything he makes.


Ansel: "Brick Lane Beigel Bake in London is open 24 hours, and they serve freshly baked bagels around the clock. I had my first salt-beef bagel there - it's a bagel filled with juicy, thick slices of corned beef - in the middle of the night when we were opening in London. It's not like anything I ever had before."

Rosati: "When I first heard of this "bagel" spot, I was incredulous, as a New Yorker. The bagels are fine, but when they stuff them with hot salt beef, plus pickles, and top it off with spicy English mustard? The bagel becomes the perfect vehicle for all the various textures and flavours, and there's nothing better - especially late at night, when it's cold out and you've been standing in line with all the club kids."

Sushi (Tsukiji Market, Tokyo)

Recommended by: Anita Lo, from Annisa in New York

At Annisa, Anita Lo's beloved, soon-to-close jewel box of a restaurant in downtown Manhattan, Lo prepares internationally inflected dishes that she researches by travelling around the world.

Reasoning: "A wise friend of mine once said that you've never drunk too much, you only haven't eaten enough. Most chefs I know take this advice to heart and counter a late night of drinking with something quick, simple, and filling. A three a.m. sushi run at Tsukiji Market delivers salinity in the soy sauce, which keeps your electrolytes stable, while the fat from the fish and the starch in the rice buffer your stomach from all the booze. I like to just let them feed me. It's always more fun when you get things you've never had before, especially in that disoriented time zone."

Caviar and Champagne (Blue Ribbon Brasserie, New York)

Recommended by: Grant Achatz, from the Alinea Group in Chicago

On a recent trip to New York, the renowned Achatz rediscovered one of the world's great chef hangouts.

Reasoning: "Maybe it's predictable, but I had such a nice experience at Blue Ribbon, at two a.m. Often, I end up at a friend's restaurant after all the guests have left and we'll roast a piece of meat, pop some corks, do something casual. At Blue Ribbon, chefs have that rare opportunity to sit down and enjoy simple, well-prepared dishes. Great caviar, some cured meat, Champagne (Krug). That's all we want. In great abundance, of course."

Pork and Potato Stew (Korea)

Recommended by: Danny Bowien, from Mission Chinese Food in New York

The chef and owner of the popular, unconventional Chinese restaurant Mission Chinese Food makes frequent trips to Korea, where he was born and where he stays up late, eating such traditional dishes as this spicy stew.

Reasoning: "I love getting Gamjatang, which translates loosely as spiced pork-bone potato stew. It's made with big chunks of meat and potatoes, and the broth has super flavour from the bones. For one thing, it is a well-known hangover reliever in Korea; also the restaurants that serve it are open 24 hours for the late night diners who need it."

Grilled Beef Heart (La Paz, Bolivia)

Recommended by: Claus Meyer from the Great Northern Food Hall in New York

Besides opening the destination fine-dining restaurant, Gustu, in Bolivia, Meyer found a favourite snack.

Reasoning: "The first time I discovered it was while visiting a food court in La Paz. I was a little dizzy because of the altitude, some 4,500 meters above sea level - my 10-kilometre run and multiple pisco sours didn't help, either - when I met a local hawker who introduced us to the speciality. The beef heart was so fresh, it was still beating when she sliced it, perfectly grilling it over the open fire. She served it with freeze-dried, rehydrated, grilled Andean potatoes and a spicy peanut sauce. I fell in love on the spot."

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