Television chef and restaurateur, Kylie Kwong, has opened a brand-new Australian-Cantonese cafeteria-style eatery.
Lucky Kwong (LK), located in Sydney's South Eveleigh within two bays of a historic locomotive workshop, is a Monday-to-Friday lunchtime ‘no-fuss' cafe that you won’t have to book. Open for walk-ins only and takeaway food, local workers with a short lunch break can easily pre-order food online or turn up and order and pay at the counter.
Kwong tells SBS that although the aim is for LK’s food service to be simple and fast, there’ll be no ‘fast food’ available. On the contrary, the menu combines sustainable produce, native ingredients and a social purpose.
“For me, Lucky Kwong is all about true nourishment,” the third-generation Australian says. “This eatery is a celebration of everything I love in life with care, community, collaboration and delicious, life-giving food at its heart.
“Beyond being a great gathering place for delicious food, I want Lucky Kwong to nourish and feed people’s spirit, to be a force for good.”
“This eatery is a celebration of everything I love in life with care, community, collaboration and delicious, life-giving food at its heart."
What to eat?
The small, handmade menu at LK showcases collaborations with sustainable food producers and focuses on keeping food waste to a minimum.
Stir-fried vegetables from the Certified Organic Boon Luck Farm in northern NSW feature in LK’s vegetarian plate, alongside steamed jasmine rice, tofu, tamari and ginger.
The eatery’s steamed savoury pancakes - served with a fried egg, vegetables, Asian herbs and caramel-tamari - is a crowd-pleaser, offering an additional daily topping as an optional extra. We're talking about toppings that can hold their own, like sustainably caught yellowfin tuna from the Australian Fish Butchery by Saint Peter, dressed with XO sauce.
Another menu highlight is a dish for anyone craving for a tofu flavour bomb. Try the salad of five-spice firm tofu with pickled carrot, potato, fresh black fungus, Boom Luck Farm herbs, and tamari and ginger dressing.
Then there's the lunchtime meal for carnivores only: red braised beef brisket with red radish, daikon and carrot.
Diners can wash it all down with any of the drinks in selective list available. There's wine, locally brewed beers and options for non-alcoholic drinks including Sobah’s Davidson Plum gluten-free ale and Jiwah lemon myrtle tea.
“All of the meals at LK are made with the freshest and best quality produce,” Kwong says.
“This commitment to locally sourced, sustainable ingredients was ingrained in me from a very early age. I grew up in a Chinese household in which mum cooked home-style, generous, delicious, Cantonese-style fare every single night.
"The freshness of produce was absolutely paramount, as mum only ever wanted to offer her family and friends the very best. These values around food, sharing and nourishment have stayed with me.”
Native ingredients meet a sense of community
Kwong also uses LK to further her ambassadorial connection with the homelessness organisation, Wayside Chapel. She is sourcing honey from Wayside’s organic rooftop garden for meals like stir-fried Saskia Beer chicken: a dish designed to honour the late food producer, Saskia Beer (Maggie Beer’s daughter) who died in 2020.
“This honey is luscious and delectable, and provides a great way for LK to share the goodness and humility that radiates from the Wayside Chapel.”
LK continues Kwong’s passion for using native ingredients, integrating Australia’s endemic edible plants into Cantonese-style food.
“I harvest native plants grown and produced by my South Eveleigh colleague, Clarence Slockee and his Jiwah crew - from South Eveleigh’s native urban rooftop garden, just a 200m walk from LK’s doorstep.”
Native bush mint (prostanthera), boasting a eucalyptus aroma, is being paired with Sichuan chilli dressing to coat 'Uncle Jimmy's' steamed prawn dumplings: an LK dish that’s been revived from restaurateur’s former Billy Kwong establishment. Kwong says the dish not only celebrates native flavours and Australia’s “pristine” prawn industry but also recognises the wonderful flavours of her Uncle Jimmy’s dumpling pastry and his commitment to her food career.
“Integrating the SE rooftop bush foods into my Canto-food is a way I can offer an authentic and meaningful version of Australian-Cantonese food. I can help convey and share the important story of SE and this country’s First Nations people through my food offering.”
A lucky sense of balance and purpose
Lucky Kwong, named after the baby son that Kwong and wife Nell lost in 2012, marks a move towards dining that provides holistic nourishment in every way – even to its owner.
Kwong explains that after 19 years as a chef and restaurateur of Sydney’s Billy Kwong, a business that was open seven nights a week for 49 weeks a year, she never really switched off completely.
“As long as the doors were open and in operation, issues could occur,” the business owner says. “Like all restaurateurs, part of your psyche is always on high alert. This manic way of existing suited me at that stage of my life, and was an excellent way I could expend all of the energy I have always had.
“Now, fast-forward to 2021, this new LK model, Monday – Friday daytime [operation] is so perfect for the way in which I wish to live, in this stage of my career and life.”
Kwong’s new business model means that she can aim for a more balanced lifestyle that provides quality time with her wife and elderly mother, while focusing her attention on food, nourishment and community engagement.
“Lucky Kwong is good at simply being, Lucky Kwong. By remaining present to that which is most precious and valuable in life, and by continuing to action all of the aforementioned, LK aims to be a force for good in this lifetime.”
Mon - Fri | 11am - 2.30pm
2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh