For Kylie Kwong, chef, restaurateur, author, TV presenter and beloved national treasure of modern China, the food she creates is as much about flavor as it is about expressing her social and cultural beliefs.
“Chiefs are seen as cultural and social leaders,” says Kwong Broadsheet. “When people go to a restaurant or a restaurant, they go not only to eat, but also for a cultural experience. “What does his company represent? [is] a question I keep asking myself.
Kwong’s new business, Lucky Kwong (LK), opened yesterday in the historic locomotive workshop in the new South Eveleigh district near Redfern Station. The casual 25-seat cafeteria-style restaurant does not accept reservations and is only open for lunch, Monday through Friday. Customers pay at the busy counter or order via QR code at the table.
Billy Kwong, the flagship restaurant that closed in 2019, this is not the case. But the core – the great Cantonese flavors that draw inspiration from the dishes Kwong grew up with – is the same. She also still uses her applause sticks, made for her by longtime collaborator and man from Cudgenburra and Bundjalung, Clarence Slockee, to announce when her dishes are ready to be served.
Slockee is South Eveleigh’s Indigenous mentor and environmental educator. He and his team at native-owned and operated landscape and cultural design firm Jiwah look after the grounds of South Eveleigh and will provide many native ingredients that are on LK’s menu. Kwong will also be using honey from her beehive in the organic rooftop garden of Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross (she has been Wayside Chapel Ambassador since 2015).
“To me, LK is all about real food – a celebration of all that I love in life with care, community, collaboration, and delicious, invigorating food at its heart,” Kwong says. “Lucky Kwong aims to be a force for good within the community.”
Kwong has for years integrated Australian native edible plants with Cantonese-style food, and Lucky Kwong’s location – and her role as South Eveleigh’s ambassador for food, culture, and community – takes this practice to a other level.
“Incorporating South Eveleigh rooftop bush food into my kitchen is a way for me to deliver an authentic and meaningful version of Australian-Cantonese food,” Kwong says. “I can continue to help pass on and share the important history of South Eveleigh and the First Nations of this country through my food offering.
The small menu features daily specials that showcase producers, collaborators and sourcing information: Caramelized pork belly with Davidson plum from the North Rivers region of New South Wales; Steamed shrimp dumplings with Szechuan chili vinaigrette and fresh mint from the bush of the indigenous urban rooftop garden of Jiwah; and sautéed vegetables with tofu grown by Palisa Anderson on her organic farm Boon Luck (also in the Northern Rivers region). Kwong lovers will be happy to hear savory pancakes – the dish that has thrown a thousand queues at its famous Carriageworks Farmers Market stall – are also on the menu.
“Every day I’ll give a special topping of the day to this pancake dish,” Kwong says. Examples include: Josh Niland’s Fish Butchery Raw Martin Hiramasa with LK Pepper and Jiwah Sea Parsley, or Caramelized Saskia beer Chicken with Wayside Chapel Honey and LK Pepper.
Design and construction company Alliance Project Services (who also worked on Matt Whiley Re-, next door) worked closely with Kwong to preserve the legacy of the space. Interiors are made of raw materials and roughly hewn: think cork floors, white brick walls, original arched windows, and high ceilings extending upwards to the exposed beams, pipes and the wooden roof. inclined corrugated iron.
The copper letters above the entryway and table numbers were designed by Vince Frost of Frost Collective (who created a bespoke font for LK) and forged by South Eveleigh resident blacksmith Matt Mewburn. Mewburn also collaborated with Kwong’s wife, artist Nell, to forge the steel branch of the central artwork that overlooks the space.
The work, Ghost Song for Lucky Kwong 2021, this is the first time that Nell and Kwong have worked together. The branch is adorned with hand-blown glass “ghosts” that embody the spirit of Lucky, the little boy Nell and Kwong sadly lost at birth in 2012, and the cafeteria’s namesake.
“With the opening of Lucky Kwong, I now have a physical space alongside the emotional and spiritual space that is really part of who I am,” Kwong says. “My LK brick and mortar setup now allows me to express my love for my child in a very real, tangible and tangible way. It’s so nice to share the spirit of LK with the world; she really is a very, very special soul. For Nell and I, we have always been conscious of finding the right channels for each of us to express our motherly love.
“I named my new place after our child, in recognition of this transformational journey, what he has brought to my life, and yes, because I now feel really lucky.
2 rue Locomotive, Eveleigh
Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.