The night owls of Canberra have another excuse to stay up past their bedtime on Tuesdays as Narrabundah Indo-fusion restaurant Kita extends their overnight hours to five nights a week.
Kita opened in 2018 serving fast-paced, tasty Indonesian food throughout the night. As Canberra’s only after-hours cafe, they’ve collected an eclectic bunch of customers: emergency services workers on night patrols, shift workers on their way to work, partygoers on their way home, musicians looking to wind down after a late gig, students pulling all-nighters and people just looking for a friendly face in the wee small hours.
The family-run restaurant has become something of a cult favourite for these broad demographics, and when the team brought forward their opening hours from 9 pm to 6 pm in 2020, co-owner Zac Young says they were able to include a whole new group of people.
“At the start of the evening, you get families with kids or older people coming through and then as the night goes on, we sort of evolve into a mismatch of everyone,” Zac told Region.
“Our ability to cater to such a large range of demographic customers [is] what makes us very special.”
Zac says they’d initially considered having alcohol at the venue but quickly realised that an alcohol-free space was a positive feature.
“It actually kind of became a little bit of our philosophy … [being a venue to] hang out with your friends without needing to have a drink,” he said.
“It ended up evolving into something that was much bigger and much better than we’d originally anticipated.”
Kita had previously been serving weekend brunch, but the team decided to finish up the daytime service for now. The combination of overnight and day shifts was tough on the staff and left them spread a bit thin. Zac acknowledged that it was disappointing for some of their weekend regulars but hinted that it might not be the end of the brunch.
“It’s not yet confirmed whether it’s going to be a permanent thing or if its or potentially something we might bring back next summer.
“But for now we’re going to take the opportunity to hyper-focus on what we believe is our bread and butter and our strongest service and what Kita is really about, which is our night service.”
The team at Kita have also changed the menu, with old favourites like nasi goreng and their curry of the week sticking around, and some new dishes like pandan crepes replacing the much-loved pandan waffles.
Expect authenticity at every turn.
Zac’s Mum, Evi Young, is the chef at Kita, and Zac explains that pembek lenjer, for example, is a fish cake dish that comes from her hometown of Palembang in South Sumatra. The handmade fishcake is sliced and served with fresh cucumber on top of noodles dressed in a sweet and spicy tamarind sauce. A side of lumpia (spring rolls) makes for a delicious meal, whether you’re in for an early dinner or burning the midnight oil.
The new menu also has an expanded offering of fresh juices, vegan shakes and alcohol-free beers, and if you need fuel for that late-night study session, you can always opt for a coffee (with a little something from the cake cabinet, of course).
Kita is located at 59 Boolimba Cres, Narrabundah. They are open from 6 pm to 6 am from Tuesday to Sunday morning (the kitchen closes at 5 am). Follow Kita on Instagram, Tik Tok or Facebook to keep up with their curry of the week and other specials.