TV chef and restaurateur Kylie Kwong has opened a brand new Australian-Cantonese cafeteria-style restaurant.
Lucky Kwong (LK), located in South Eveleigh in Sydney, within two bays of a historic locomotive workshop, is a ‘simple’ cafe Monday through Friday for lunch that you won’t have to book. Open only for walk-in meals and take-out, local workers with a short lunch break can easily pre-order food online or show up and order and pay at the counter.
Kwong told SBS that while the goal is for LK’s food service to be simple and fast, there will be no âfast foodâ available. On the contrary, the menu combines sustainable products, local ingredients and social purpose.
âFor me, Lucky Kwong is real food,â says the third-generation Australian. âThis restaurant is a celebration of everything I love in life with care, community, collaboration and delicious, uplifting food at the core.
âBeyond being a great gathering place for delicious food, I want Lucky Kwong to nurture and nourish people’s minds, to be a force for good.â
“This restaurant is a celebration of everything I love in life with care, community, collaboration and delicious, uplifting food at the core.”
What to eat?
The small, handmade menu at LK features collaborations with sustainable food producers and focuses on minimizing food waste.
Stir-fried vegetables from organic certification Lucky farm in northern NSW are on LK’s vegetarian plate, alongside steamed jasmine rice, tofu, tamari and ginger.
The restaurant’s steamed savory pancakes – served with a fried egg, vegetables, Asian herbs, and toffee-tamari – are a crowd pleaser, offering an optional extra daily garnish. We’re talking toppings that can hold up, like sustainably caught yellowfin tuna from Australian Fish Butchery by Saint Peter, topped with XO sauce.
Another highlight of the menu is a dish for anyone craving a tofu flavor bomb. Try the Five Spice Firm Tofu Salad with Pickled Carrots, Potatoes, Fresh Black Mushrooms, Boom Luck Farm Herbs, and Tamari Ginger Dressing.
Then there is the noon meal reserved for carnivores: red braised beef brisket with red radish, daikon and carrot.
Diners can wash everything down with one of the drinks from the available selective list. There are wine, locally brewed beers, and options for non-alcoholic drinks, including Sobah’s Davidson Plum Gluten Free Ale and Jiwah Lemon Myrtle Tea.
âAll meals at LK are prepared with the freshest, highest quality produce,â Kwong explains.
âThis commitment to local and sustainable ingredients was ingrained in me from an early age. I grew up in a Chinese household where mom made home-style, generous, delicious, Cantonese-style food every night.
“The freshness of the products was absolutely essential, because mom never wanted to offer the best to her family and friends. These values ââaround food, sharing and food have remained with me.”
Indigenous ingredients meet a sense of community
Kwong also uses LK to strengthen his ambassadorial bond with the organization for the homeless, Chapel at the edge of the path. She sources honey from the organic rooftop garden at Wayside for meals like sautÃ©ed chicken Saskia Beer: a dish designed to honor late food producer Saskia Beer (daughter of Maggie Beer) who died in 2020.
“This honey is succulent and delicious, and is a great way for LK to share the goodness and humility that emanates from Wayside Chapel.”
LK continues Kwong’s passion for using indigenous ingredients, incorporating edible plants endemic to Australia into Cantonese-style cooking.
âI harvest native plants grown and produced by my South Eveleigh colleague Clarence Slockee and his team Jiwah – in the South Eveleigh Urban Rooftop Garden, just a 200 meter walk from LK Gate.â
Native mint (prostanthera), with a eucalyptus scent, is paired with a Szechuan chili vinaigrette to coat the steamed shrimp balls “Uncle Jimmy”: an LK dish that was revived from the old Billy restaurant Kwong. Kwong says the dish not only celebrates native flavors and Australia’s âvirginâ shrimp industry, but also recognizes the wonderful flavors of his uncle Jimmy’s dumpling baking and his commitment to his food career.
âIncorporating SE rooftop bush foods into my Canto kitchen is one way for me to deliver an authentic and meaningful version of Australian-Cantonese food. I can help transmit and share the important history of SE and the First Nations of this country through my food offering.
A lucky sense of balance and purpose
Lucky Kwong, named after the baby Kwong and his wife Nell lost in 2012, marks a move towards a restaurant that provides holistic nourishment in every way, even to its owner.
Kwong explains that after 19 years as chef and restaurateur at Sydney’s Billy Kwong, a business that runs seven nights a week for 49 weeks a year, it never really died out completely.
âAs long as the doors were open and running, problems could arise,â says the owner of the company. âLike all restaurateurs, part of your psyche is always on high alert. This manic way of existing suited me at this point in my life and was a great way to burn off all the energy I’ve always had.
“Now fast forward to 2021, this new model LK, Monday to Friday during the day [operation] is so perfect for the way I want to live, at this point in my career and in my life.
Kwong’s new business model means she can aim for a more balanced lifestyle that offers quality time with her wife and elderly mother, while focusing her attention on food, nutrition and community engagement.
âLucky Kwong is good to just be, Lucky Kwong. By staying present with what is most precious and precious in life, and continuing to act on all of the above, LK aims to be a force for good in this life.
Mon – Fri | 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
2, rue Locomotive, Eveleigh