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“Great Tasty Food but complicated”
Review of Billy Kwong

Billy Kwong
Ranked #31 of 5,862 Restaurants in Sydney
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: Chinese
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Reservations
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Level Contributor
13 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Great Tasty Food but complicated”
Reviewed March 2, 2013

Out for a family birthday this was a great choice as we all love Asian flavours and the food here is such a modern take on the traditional. The chicken liver starter was melt in the mouth and so tasty - four of us were sharing and perhaps should have ordered two plates it was so good. The main of "white chicken" was the most amazing texture, melt in the mouth and so flavoursome in a very subtle way, the signature duck dish was an explosion of flavour and a wonderful contrasting texture to the delicate chicken.
The down side were the complicated conditions - this place is so popular it seems there is always a queue at the door before it opens and you can only book for tables of 4 or more, if you are late you forfeit your table - so get there in plenty of time as parking is a nightmare! That's all fine but the tables are very small and the dishes are large, the seating is simple so if like me you need to sit supported be sure to request a table near the wall.
The menu may need some explaining as some of the ingredients are unusual but the wait staff were very helpful and considerate especially if chilli or a certain garnish is not your thing.
The specials were handwritten but a bit illegible - again the staff were busy but happy to explain.
The least favourable aspect of this otherwise really good restaurant was the lavatory - one for the whole place and I even saw a member of the kitchen staff hovering waiting to use it!! It was not particularly nice to use and frankly disappointing considering the reputation of the cuisine being consumed here. Would we go again? perhaps not, but only because we have tried it now (and enjoyed it ) but there are so many other choices in Sydney...

  • Visited March 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Sabbey24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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779 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
12 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“A very memorable dinner”
Reviewed February 28, 2013 via mobile

Visiting sydney, and was referred by our friend from US to dine here.

We waited for 1,5 hours!
Wow what a long wait.

Originally the waiter told us that the wait is going to be about 45 min, but ended up longer, since nobody care to leave.

The place is small, and your table is very close to other tables.

All i can remembered was the food and service amazing!

I love their stir fried egg or scrambled egg. Such a simple ingredient but they made me craving to come back again.

The waiter, a gentleman was superb, very friendly and attentive, and showed a lot of passion for food.

U can sneak peak their kitchen, since it is has no door.

This is one of the best restaurant i've been, around the world. I will come back for sure!

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank -nat7580-
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A forgotten Hero?”
Reviewed February 18, 2013

As a Sydneysider, I feel a little ashamed that last Sunday was my first visit to Billy Kwong. It’s one of those places, like Luke Nguyen’s “Red Lantern”, that I have always “planned” to go to – but there is always a newer, latest and greatest foodie delight to go to first. I can’t remember the last time one of these hip and hyped new places I have preferred over Billy Kwong lived up to the publicity surrounding the latest celebrity chef appearance or reports of outlandish refurbishment budgets. Mainly about the image and the fit out, the food has left me wanting, with the bill and condescending service leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth.

My experience at Billy Kwong was entirely the reverse.

Set in a quieter part of cosmopolitan Surry Hills, the décor is understated and classy yet welcoming – much like the quality and attitude of the staff. Pretention is not a word that has any place here. It’s all about the food and the service and the staff appear to genuinely love working here. But back to the food….

The chefs clearly love their food. It is not coincidence that Kylie Kwong has an emphasis on biodynamics, fair trade, and organic food. With each dish of our banquet, it is patently clear that Kyle Kwong and her chefs respect and – dare I say – put love in every dish. The plating up is elegant and precise, but it is about showcasing the food, rather than the artistic abilities of the chef on the pass. Every element on the plate is there for a reason and the menu demonstrates a true fusion of noble Chinese flavours and techniques with local and uniquely Australian produce that Kylie Kwong and her team have put together.

The use of warrigal greens and organic salt bush in the vegetable dumplings and tatsoi cakes was enlightening. The organic quandong berries in the duck in orange sauce created a fine piquancy to a dish that threatened to be too sweet. The caramelised pork belly was another highlight where local yellow box honeycomb somehow magically marries with Korean fish sauce to create a complexity of flavours galaxies away from the sweet and sour sauces found in your local supermarket.

As a testament to the staff’s lack of pretention and desire to be genuinely helpful, there was no sharp intake of breath or sucking air through teeth when we asked whether we could replace some of the banquet courses with the pork and duck we saw arrive at the table beside us. Our wish was granted without hesitation. And again, when delivery of my second glass of wine required a gentle reminder on my part, it was delivered with a simple “oh, and you won’t find it on the bill”. No contrived theatrics we have sometimes seen at more recent additions to the Sydney food scene where image, the need to book well in advance, and price seems to muddy the reasons why we are coming in the first place: to enjoy the food.

I will definitely be back to Billy Kwong. It may mean I have to wait in line at 5:30pm to get in at 6pm, but I could always put my name down and go for a drink beforehand! And hopefully I will visiting “Red Lantern” very soon too!

  • Visited February 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Adelah8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
50 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Worth the wait!”
Reviewed February 14, 2013

Our group of four arrived to no queue but a full restaurant. Front of house were extremely helpful, offered us a table within 30 mins or so and would confirm by phone, giving us an opportunity to pop to one of many local pubs/bars for a cocktail and return when called. This is exactly what happened, and the food was worth the wait. We let our waitress guide us on what to order and were not disappointed. Don't miss the duck! Thank you for the birthday chocolates, candle and song... It was a nice gesture for the birthday boy and we left with full tummies and credit card that didn't feel like it had been smashed. Will be back.

Visited January 2013
Thank Mumneedsaholiday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
113 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 96 helpful votes
“Organic/Bio/seasonal ingredients, stylish small dining room, Modern Chinese by a skilled chef, friendly efficient staff”
Reviewed February 11, 2013

Every 1-2 years I am in Sydney for a few days or up to a week. This is the first restaurant I go to for dinner, I always have the same thing, the duck with a side of steamed seasonal green and rice. Everything on the menu is fantastic and if I am with a large group I will order many dishes, but if I am running in on my own (perhaps only in the city for 1 night in transit), I will eat the duck on my own and love every bite.

This place is small, perhaps seats 30-40 people maximum in a cheerful, stylish space with a large glass window to a leafy street. The staff are all cool, friendly people with a warm manner and the owner Kylie Kwong is sometimes there in the kitchen, sometimes having dinner herself with friends, and it is a treat when she is actually there herself. I was on my own eating the duck last time I was there and I was so excited about getting the last available table with no waiting necessary that I did not register it was her until she sent a dumpling over to my table "compliments of the chef". It was the highlight of my trip this kind gesture gave me the opportunity to say thank you in person to Kylie for all the wonderful meals I have enjoyed in her restaurant. Billy Kwong's is a gem and she is charming and stylish and an excellent chef and restauranteur.

So the food is Chinese but with a modern spin - I believe Kylie Kwong worked for a time under famed chef Neil Perry. The ingredients are sourced as responsibly as possible - fresh, seasonal, organic and the restaurant has made efforts to reduce it's carbon footprint.

The decor is stylish without being flashy, comfortable, and I guess "modern asian" in aesthetic, like the food.

They do not take reservations (except maybe for the 2 large tables that seat 6 or 8), so generally I arrive at 5.30pm if I have jetlag or just feel like eating early and try to get first seating, OR if thats too early for me I put my name down at say 6.30pm and inevitably there is a 1-1.5hours wait, so I go and have either a drink or dessert next door at Bills. Then Billy Kwong's maitre de calls you when your table is ready - the system is quite easy and efficient and for my favourite duck I will always wait. And I am someone who refuses to wait for a table anywhere ever. Only at this 1 restaurant!

  • Visited January 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank AlastairCookieNYC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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