Chow City is a Pan-Asian culinary post that combines authentic Asian with a rocking city bar. The restaurant is the brainchild of Thu, fashion designer cum-restauranteur. Her story is probably familiar to many in the fashion industry: moving on, post-GFC, into the unknown. When I worked in finance we always used a neat saying: ‘never waste a crisis’ (when everyone is terrified it’s often the best time to invest!). Thu did this and then some – after reassessing her skill set she knew one thing: she could cook!
Enter Chow City. Growing up near Springvale I was spoiled for choice when it came to great Asian food. Authentic meant grandma was in the kitchen, mum was taking orders and the kids were bussing tables (we like to teach people the value of a dollar at a young age.) That atmosphere probably wouldn’t cut it CBD side but I do miss it.
With Chow City you definitely get authenticity (minus the kids!). Thu and her chefs inspire the menu. Whilst I usually don’t go past the pork belly, you simply have to try the duck. Cooked in a rich coconut sauce, it is…decadent. Flowers are a theme throughout the dishes, as is spice. You can try your luck with the hot stuff but the team has fashioned a handy 10 point system to help you and your stomach lining navigate. If you’re feeling adventurous #10 is called ‘Crying Tiger.’ Thu’s mum actually cooks up this bad boy’s sauce herself!
I have noticed a trend with a few Asian restaurants around town – Mama’s Buoi, Table Lamp and now Chow City. They’re creating amazing cocktails and their bars are sleek. We tried a purple gin-based creation which easily held its own against concoctions from top-tier Melburnian cocktail bars.
Thu has big plans for Chow City. I think the food speaks for itself, the location works and hopefully they’ll be able to open up onto Little Lonsdale street to create even more atmosphere in the Trunk/Gami Chicken & Beer area of town.
287 Exhibition Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000