You’d have to be blind not to notice the influx of new wave Pan-Asian joints opening up across Melbourne. You know the kind; those with an irreverent attitude, dishing out frequent pop culture references alongside cheekily (at the very least) named dishes.
The latest Pan-Asian restaurant and bar to hit Melbourne CBD is Chow City. But here they endeavour to stand apart from the pack. Firstly, ladies are found behind the scenes rather than lit up on neon signs at the entrance-way. Chow City’s owner, Thu Fampidi, has appointed Kim-Maree Moore (formerly of MoVida, Seamstress, Happy Palace) as head chef with back-up from sous chef, Olivia Badaracco. Kim explains, ‘what sets us apart is we make everything in house. Nothing that comes out of our kitchen is a brought in product.’ She hopes the difference will also be marked by ‘the level of produce that we’re using. I’m getting some pretty good farmers on board. I like to use the little farmers as well like Greenvale—their heritage breed pork—and a lot of wagyu from Australia.’
Having cooked for the likes of the Chemical Brothers, Incubus and Jamiroquai, Kim’s dream client would be Pink. But the mostly vegan pop star wouldn’t likely touch Chow City’s signature dish: the infamous Crying Tiger. Kim serves the Thai beef dish spiked with lime nam pla, prickly ash and chilli. Plus an ‘optional level of crying’, with a scale from 1 to 10. ‘10 comes with a severe warning, so it’s pretty spicy,’ explains self-confessed chilli nerd, Kim. She grows seven different varieties of the stuff. You have been warned.
Aside from Thai, the new Melbourne restaurant’s menu takes a journey from modern Vietnam to Indonesia and Japan. Often on the same flower petal and baby herb adorned plate. Kim also tips that blue swimmer crab, clams, pippies and Chatham Island blue cod (‘so fresh it still tastes like the sea’) are ‘crazy good’ on her menu at the moment and on Fridays you might be lucky to encounter Chow City’s shellfish pot. Sounds like now is the time to settle into a banquette, stare out from their big fold-up windows into the Melbourne sunset, while chowing down on a bowl of something pretty and/or pretty spicy. And then happily cry your little heart out.
Image Credits: Simon Shiff for The Urban List