Now we can reveal what the mysterious site on Smith Street in Fitzroy will become: a second Kong.
“We think it’s a good fit for the area,” Lucas says. Chin Chin – the group’s most successful restaurant and the most obvious pick for replicating – was passed over because it’s too “large-scale”.
Despite the building’s imposing façade, Lucas says it’s not that much bigger than Kong in Richmond. The extra space will be used to expand the menu and run a late-night takeaway window on Moor Street, where the building also has frontage.
But more than anything else, Kong was chosen to suit Korean-born chef Kitak Lee, the Lucas Group’s latest hire. “It’s all about Kitak. The guy is a superstar,” Lucas says. “If he was in New York, he’d be the next David Chang.”
Maybe, maybe not. But his appointment is definitely a coup for the Lucas Group, which nabbed Lee from Chang’s Momofuku Seibo in Sydney. Before that he was at Cho Cho San, another popular Japanese eatery there.
Lee and the group’s second-newest star chef, Japanese specialist Shaun Presland, have been working together to overhaul the menu for Fitzroy.
The new location will serve wood-fired scallops, tuna tataki and various ramens. Lee has also created a new range of dumplings, including prawn, pork and ponzu; and fried dumplings with butter ponzu.
The Lucas Group is yet to reveal an opening date for the new site.