If ever there was a time when we needed to hear some positive stories about refugees in Australia, it’s now. Nahji Chu’s family roots lie in Hanoi, but she sought asylum here from Laos in the late 70s. She set up Misschu’s Tuckshop in Darlinghurst in 1998 and it was an instant success.
Part catering company, part ‘street’ food vendor, Misschu became famous for her rice paper rolls, but today the wonderful dumplings, wagyu beef noodle soup or Peking duck pancakes might also qualify as specialties. Many ingredients are organic, free range, fair trade and wheat free and all are market fresh. MSG is a definite no-no.
The catering side offers an exquisite range of delicate finger foods, which can all be ordered over the internet or in person at the window. They even supply staff if you are so inclined.
The Tuckshop consists of a long thin galley kitchen which doubles as the ordering window and a collection of old school desks and chairs on the street – it is indeed ‘just’ a tuck shop. To emphasise the point, students from the nearby school get a 5 per cent discount.
Most of the lunch crowd are from the nearby offices in William Street, while the evenings attracting a much more Darlinghurst-cool crowd. If you don’t want to line up at the window, lunch and dinner can be delivered on one of their electric bikes if you are within a 1km radius, which covers an awful lot of apartments and offices in this, the most densely populated area in Australia.
There is also a cafe at the Opera House – as the owner calls it “Misschu with a view” – and one at Bondi too. And in a remarkable example of the old idiom ‘carrying coals to Newcastle’, Nahji Chu also has a tuckshop in Melbourne.