One day when I was watching SBS, I happened to catch Kylie Kwong's "My China" tv series. Ever since then, I've always wanted to try her food. At that time I could almost taste the food through the TV. Her passion for food, her way of cooking was what made me become an instant fan. Seeing her on episodes of Master Chef a few years later only served to confirm my desire to taste her cooking.
So it was with great excitement, knowing I was going to be in Sydney for a weekend, that I just had to book a table at Billy Kwong (Kylie's restaurant in Surry Hills Sydney). Luckily for me, I secured the family table. Billy Kwong can get quite busy from I'd heard, and they have two sittings. One at 6pm and another at 8:30pm. People usually line up outside this establishment hoping to be blessed by culinary goodness.
Billy Kwong is situated in the trendy area of Surry Hills, along Crown Street beside Marque Restaurant (Mark Best) and Bill Granger's "Bill's" Cafe. You just know this area is special when you have highly rated restaurants and cafes all within a short walk.
Upon entering Billy Kwong's, it felt like walking into a family member's house. Very inviting, warm and cosy, a perfect sanctuary from the light drizzle outside. I immediately noticed the nice dark cupboards lined with uniform wine and sauce bottles. Complimented by an array of several asian inspired ornaments. There's also a drum-shaped lantern hanging in the middle of the room.
The tables are smallish, round, with seating stools decorated with tea light candles, peanuts and cinnamon sticks as a centrepiece. The décor, the layout of the tables, seemed in keeping with Billy Kwong's small and simple dining area. The kitchen, where all the magic happens, is partly visible from where we were situated. Couldn't wait to order.
As there were seven of us, (five adults & two kids), we decided to order dishes to share. To start:
- Steamed 'Mark Eather' Ocean trout Shumai with XO sauce (which was recommended by staff)
This was very delicate in flavour with a beautiful XO sauce which complimented the Shumai.
The rest of our order arrived together, with our "mains" including:
- Steamed Silken tofu with ginger, Shaved Kombu, Chilli, Shiro Shoyu and bio-dynamic sesame oil.
I thought this dish was amazing. The combination of the silken tofu and shaved kombu melted in my mouth.
-White cooked Free range chicken with organic tamari, chilli, and coriander.
This chicken is served at room temperature, nice and warm, and again lots of flavour.
-Crispy Skin pasture fed duck with organic quandong and organic orange sauce
This dish was the "highlight" of the night for all of us. Presented beautifully on a plate with Star Anise and Cinnamon Sticks. The flavour was just so good, that its very hard to describe, and wouldn't do it justice. Every duck dish I will ever have will be compared to this one, and I would fly to Sydney just to have Billy Kwong's Crispy duck. I love that Kylie used a traditional indigenous bush tucker with this dish infused with Quandong which tasted like a ball of intense sweetness.
- Stir fried green vegetables (amaranth, nettles, dandelion, watercress, with patrice newells biodynamic garlic and shiro shoyu). A simple stir fried dish, delicious and complimented the Crispy Duck perfectly.
Billy Kwong's might be considered expensive asian cuisine (for some people), but considering its location, the celebrity owner, Kylie's vision of using only the freshest local organic, biodynamic and ethical produce, and the fact that the food is unique, absolutely fantastically delicious; it is worth every penny. If you go as a group, then as the cost is shared, the price is quite reasonable.
Overall the experience was excellent from start to finish. Outstanding service, knowledgeable, friendly, attentive, and always with a smile. Great service was the icing on the cake, and I always appreciate great service. I was hoping to see Kylie in action, but I couldn't see her. Already looking forward to coming back with my husband, as he missed out on such a fantastic experience. In the meantime, I'll keep dreaming of Kylie's Crispy duck at Billy Kwong's.
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