In the old Kwan Wo Noodle Factory in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, Kwan Brothers is a buzzing late-night blend of Asia’s tastiest hits.
“We’re not a traditional-cuisine restaurant,” says head chef Tom Sargent. Taking elements from Japan’s rowdy izakayas, the street food of South East Asia and China, and Singapore’s popular hawker markets, it’s hard to know what to expect from the ever-changing menu.
One thing you can rely on, however, is its most popular dish: pork-belly bao. “We use a lot of pork belly; we go through about 120–140 kilograms a week,” says Sargent. Stuffed between soft steamed bao buns, the tender pork is flavoured with Kwan Brothers’ house-made spicy-yet-sweet red-dragon sauce.
Considering the pork-belly bao’s popularity, Sargent came up with a twist. He’s swapped the bao bun for a tortilla to create the Kwan Brothers’ version of a barbeque-pork taco. This special, off-menu item is available only via Deliveroo. “We wanted to do something different for Deliveroo, and we’ve never done tacos before,” he says.
Served with an Asian slaw and a spicy gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste) sauce, Sargent playfully shakes up the Mexican staple with a Korean spin. “We have a few Korean chefs working in the kitchen and this taco was inspired by the flavours and dishes they often cook for staff meals,” he says.
The secret to the success of this dish all comes down to the pork. “All our pork belly is cooked sous-vide at 72 degrees for 12 hours before being pressed in the refrigerator for a further 12 hours. This makes the meat very tender and it never has any of those raw, fatty or chewy bits,” he says. The pork is then marinated in a mix of mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil and apple juice for a burst of sweet-and-sour flavour, before being barbequed on a Japanese Robata grill.
While it’s a less-well-kept secret than the off-menu barbeque-pork taco, Kwan Brothers has another surprise – a hidden bar. “Just past the kitchen there’s what looks like a cool-room door, but it opens into a private bar and room that we hire out for guests and parties,” says Sargent. Offering creative cocktails infused with Asian aromatics and a comprehensive selection of whisky served on hand-cut ice, it’s a cool place to sip.
Sargent, who has also cooked at sister-restaurant Alfredo’s, says the building’s past still remains an important part of the transformed Kwan Brothers restaurant. “We use the original Kwan Wo noodles in our Kwan’s Fried Chicken Noodles. And not long ago, the three Kwan brothers from the noodle factory came by for dinner.”
Among its inspiring take on modern-Asian cuisine, Sargent also credits the success of the restaurant to its fun and relaxed atmosphere. “Apart from the food, we don’t take too much too seriously.”
Kwan Brothers’ Barbeque Pork Taco is available until Wednesday August 17, only via Deliveroo.
This article is presented in partnership with Deliveroo.