I love this tiny restaurant! It’s nothing like the sort of gloopy saucy Chinese you might get in your typical joint. You know, the kind that might seem like a good idea when you’re hungover but subsequently lodges queasily in your stomach? No ! Billy Kwong makes full flavoured , bursting with goodness, traditional food -the kind you’d get from your mum, if only she were Chinese and an amazing cook. I also admire them because they use only locally grown,organic and biodynamic fruit and vegetables,poultry,meat and noodles.Not to mention that they became the first climate friendly restaurant in NSW.
The chef,Kyle Kwong is an amazing inspiration. She started Billy Kwong as a result of her partnership with another Sydney icon ; Bill Granger.She is currently the sole owner but kept the name as she thought it fitted. Apart from the restaurant Kyle has written incredible cookbooks and has starred in her own fascinating tv series.What I admire the most about Kyle is that she is a devout Buddhist who has taken the teachings and morals of her religion and applied it to the way she runs her business, inspiring other people to put their money where their mouth is.
In any case food at Billy Kwong is to die for! I always order the freshly shucked oysters with ginger and shallot, followed by freshly made prawn dumplings .One night they had moreton bay dumplings on special that were so mind- blowingly good I’d have them as my death row’s last meal.
For seconds we had a steamed ,line caught snapper and the star of the show : crispy skin duck with blood plum sauce . This duck is all you’d ever want and it is rightly their signature dish ; crispy on the outside, deliciously soft inside and sweet, sour and salty with lashings of star anise and cinnamon.
Well I’ve got Kyle Kwong’s cookbooks but no matter how hard i try it never tastes as good as it does at the restaurant. Still I’ll keep perservering because I think it’s all about learning the art of the wok, the Chinese way of cutting vegetables and the ability to keep your cool while trying to handle 5 pots, none of which I excel at .The cookbooks are also full of tidbits about her family , their history and life and I find these so insightful, poignant and often funny that I often get lost in them while trying to find recipes.
This restaurant doesn’t take bookings, so get in early or put your name down and run down the road to Mille Vini for a glass of vino while you wait.
And Pau Pau -Kyle Kwong’s smoking,gambling and drinking wildchild of a grandmother? ! I love you.