Tags: taiwanese, licensed, gluten-free, chinese, vegetarian options
Our guiding philosophy at Billy Kwong is:
'To leave as small and light an environmental footprint as possible, to give back to the community whenever and wherever we can, and to think globally and act locally.'
Billy Kwong opened in May 2000, in a narrow shopfront on cosmopolitan Crown Street in Surry Hills, Sydney.
Inspired by the idea of re-creating a traditional Chinese eating house, we engaged a young Taiwanese designer named Chen Lu â€“ I love Chen's fresh, natural approach, his inherent understanding of all things Asian, his devotion to quality and his personal integrity. One of Chen's greatest talents is furniture design, and he devised an ingenious way of overcoming the constraints imposed by such an intimate space. Along both sides of the room he created sleek cupboards that by night are disguised as beautifully lacquered dark-wood walls. By day, when the restaurant is in full preparation mode, these â€˜wallsâ€™ open to reveal spacious cupboards that house everything from peanuts to soy sauce. I especially cherish the two display cabinets that Chen designed to frame the open kitchen. Exhibiting his trademark simplicity and elegance, they emanate solidness and nobility. But the focal point of the whole room is a huge drum-shaped lantern that was handmade in Melbourne. I often watch peopleâ€™s faces as they enter the restaurant, and their gaze is somehow drawn to the lantern â€“ I believe it is magical.
Before we open the doors each night at 6 p.m., the room is filled with the buzz of our intense daily ritual. There is fresh food stacked on every surface, awaiting preparation and cooking; there is a large vase of flowers in the centre of the kitchen bench; there is a steel wire stretched across the kitchen, where food orders are pegged during service. The tiny kitchen is the engine room of Billy Kwong, and I adore it. Here I feel most at home â€“ there is so much movement and energy, so many smells and textures.
Growing up within such a vibrant food culture, and being a passionate advocate of sustainability and ethical eating, I guess it was only a matter of time before I would make the commitment to organic and biodynamic produce at Billy Kwong. We made the transition in 2005. What followed was a tremendous learning experience: because the flavour and texture of such produce is so true and intense, discipline is needed to let the natural ingredients speak for themselves, and restraint is required to avoid overwhelming the ingredients with gloopy sauces or inappropriate cooking methods. We use locally grown, organic and biodynamic fruit and vegetables, poultry, meat and noodles. Most of the soy sauces, sugar, vinegar and oils we flavour our food with are organic, and we serve Fair Trade tea and chocolate.
Offering the healthiest, most life-giving, sustainable food is the best possible way my staff and I can serve the community; it is our contribution. We have also shown our commitment to the environment by becoming the first climate friendly restaurant in New South Wales.
My wish is that when people leave the restaurant, they will feel as if they have shared some of the spirit of my family and their love for food â€“ and that it will make them feel nurtured and nourished.
Our menu changes seasonally to reflect the availability of fresh, sustainable local and organic produce. Our daily 'specials' list reflects what is best at the market that day, and always includes Billy Kwong's signature dish of crispy duck with oranges, mandarins or plums, depending upon the season.