Heroes, the new four-level barbeque and karaoke party house from the crew behind US-style barbeque joint Fancy Hank’s, is about to launch with a menu combining their love for all things smoked with Singaporean hawker food.
Head chef Alicia Cheong says much of the menu’s inspiration comes from her childhood in Singapore.
“All the flavours are traditionally Asian. All the sauces are homemade. We make all the bases for our curries here. It’s almost like mum’s cooking ... in a dive bar,” Cheong says.
Before Heroes, Cheong worked with the Fancy Hank’s team at their old Mercat Cross Hotel site, before heading back to Singapore to work at the now-closed Restaurant André that while open reached number 14 on the 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list and held two Michelin stars.
The kitchen features a grill specifically dedicated to cooking chicken wings. Cheong, says the grill cooks up to 140 wings at a time, rendering fat and crisping the skin in the process.
“Basically this is what hawkers in Singapore use to barbeque their chicken wings,” says Cheong, who trusts the hard-earned experience of those vendors. “The guys in Singapore sell chicken wings for their whole lives.”
Beside the wing station is another custom-built grill, designed specifically for Heroes by Silver Creek Smokers. It features a firebox, grill plate and skewer section, and uses three types of charcoal: lump, binchotan (Japanese white charcoal) and Australian extruded. Smoke rises from the grill, infusing garlic and chickens on racks above.
Beyond chicken, there’s brisket and beef tongue, smoked across the road at Fancy Hank’s. The brisket is smoked in Szechuan spices and then deep fried for service ¬– a perfect example of the culture clash happening here.
Skewers are also a big feature of the bar snack-focused menu with satay chicken, Szechuan cumin lamb, and beef rendang all making an appearance. Sides are a fresh cucumber salad, and Malaysian pickles. For something sweet there’s sago pudding with palm-sugar caramel; or soybean custard, a fried dough fritter and coffee syrup.
The cocktail list is designed by Oscar Eastman (ex-Eau de Vie, Loretta’s) and avoids Southeast Asian staples such as lemongrass and lime, instead incorporating unique flavours such as seaweed, chai, and Malaysian sour plum. Eastman’s riff on a hot toddy is made to soothe sore karaoke throats and features locally-made apple-pie moonshine from Melbourne Moonshine, star anise, calamansi and dried apple. Lychee is smoked in the kitchen before being added to the Float On – their “cover version’’ of a New York Sour – that pairs lychee with tequila, vanilla and a local shiraz float.
Chicken satay – Chicken thigh, peanut sauce, cucumber, shallot
Beef rendang – Beef flank, coconut curry, kaffir lime
Tingling lamb – Lamb loin, Szechuan pepper, lemon lamb loin, cumin.
Duck heart – Duck hearts, ginger teriyaki, shiso, lemon
Shiitake (V) – Soy-braised shiitake mushroom, coriander, pickled ginger.
Eggplant – Eggplant, black-bean paste, garlic
BBQ wings – Chicken wings, chilli vinegar, fresh lime
Smoked beef tongue – Thinly sliced beef tongue, scallion salad, chilli oil
Szechuan brisket – Smoked beef brisket, pickled radish, smoked garlic puree
Charred lettuce (V) – BBQ’d lettuce, mushroom sauce
Sambal Seafood (Daily Special – changing) – Sambal, fermented shrimp sauce, lime
Cucumber salad – Charred spring onion, ginger vinegar dressing
Achar pickles – Seasonal spicy pickles
Steamed jasmine rice
Sago pudding – Coconut sorbet, palm-sugar caramel
Soybean custard – Fried dough fritter, kopi syrup
Heroes opens Friday June 29 at 188 Bourke St, Melbourne.