Thanks to you, Rogue Spice Canteen is all grown up.
Success has seen the eatery shift down Brunswick Street to the former corner digs of Glass Bar. It’s a classy upgrade, with 70 seats and a liquor licence on the way. Thankfully, owner Shannon Oey’s focus is still the same: quality food at affordable prices. “We’ve got a very loyal following. That’s why I didn’t want to change much,” Oey says. “I don’t want everyone to have to tuck their shirt in to eat in my place.”
Rogue’s interior might be upgraded, but it’s still simple and homey, based on the street-side warungs Oey used to frequent as a youngster in Indonesia. “People loved that small hole in the window,” he says of his previous premises, just up the road on the corners of Brunswick and Martin Streets. “They [weren’t] expecting that type of food to come out.”
Oey began his adulthood as a professional tennis player, but would use his downtime between international tournaments to take cooking classes. After giving up the sport, he qualified as a chef. His time in fine diners established the principles for Rogue Spice. “I hated that my friends couldn’t afford to eat where I work,” he says. “Food needs to be accessible to everybody.”
Oey now draws on this Indonesian and South East Asian influence for his food, mixing in French techniques. The chef describes it as modern Asian. “Not pan Asian, or Asian fusion,” he says.
For now, the char-grilled coconut-beef ribs; 12-hour pork-belly Penang curry; and twice-cooked red-duck curry all feature as share plates. Desserts and South East Asian-inspired cocktails will be added once the liquor licence comes through. For the first week or so it’s BYO wine, beer and cider.