“These tables are really dining in Mike’s kitchen,” Justin Hemmes tells Broadsheet as he moves through Good Luck, his new basement restaurant in the CBD. He’s gesturing to a few booths alongside the frenetic open kitchen, where a glowing hearth powers a grill ready to scorch miso-doused prawns, deft chefs captain three large woks (built especially for the space) and house-made noodles are prepped and boiled. All of this energy, in executive chef Mike Eggert’s kitchen, can be seen through a tiled porthole-like window in the restaurant’s waiting area.

“Really we just made a giant canvas so the chefs can have some fun,” Eggert says. Bonito, Murray cod and large tuna heads smoke above the grill. Sausages fit for pescatarians are jazzed up with lime. “Tokyo-style pastas” come laced with roasted shishito peppers and whitebait. When it comes to Good Luck, the team’s hesitant to give it a label. “It’s just a fun menu,” Eggert says. “I know people really want me to define it, but I don’t know what to call it.”

There are clear Japanese and Chinese influences, and head chef Prince Jeganathan brings flavours from time spent at Mumu and Mr Wong, as well as his Sri Lankan heritage. Then there’s the table bread. A pull-apart-style roll, honeyed and sticky, is topped with burnt onion, seaweed and sesame seeds – sure to become a Totti’s-like hit. “You can dip it through a whole lot of the entrees, or drag it through the stuff that we serve up as mains,” Eggert says. “It’s a little bit Italian in style, but it definitely works with the menu.”

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Good Luck is named after Eggert’s seminal pop-up Good Luck Pinbone, and the food here also takes a cue from the pop-up. “When I was doing [Pinbone] with Jem [Whiteman], we’d just freestyle – we were led by whatever turned up. We had really great access to fish; cos we were such a small operator, the suppliers were really great. We’d always start with peanuts, cucumbers and pickles, and we always had handmade noodles on. We’ve found a version of that this time around as well.”

There’s room for 200 in the basement space of the historic Burns Philp & Co building. Catch a seat at the bar, where the group’s cocktail lead James Irvine brings in flavours from across Asia; the Laat Jam plays on a spicy Marg, and the Matcha Kit Kat mixes white chocolate, vodka, coconut and green tea. There’s an 18-person private dining room (with its own bar) along with the muted-pastel-hued main dining space. Tables are set simply, letting the surrounds be the star.

“We had an amazing base building to work with,” Hemmes says. “The architecture down here was phenomenal – big vaults and the tracks in the ground from when it was a lumber yard. They had safes down here and they used to move the gold around on trolleys.”

The fit-out is completely new, and dances between casual and opulent. Vintage glass chandeliers glimmer, and there’s a neon buzz around mirrors on the wall. High windows catch the ankles of passers-by above, and an illuminated glass-bricked wine room houses group somm Jacqueline Doucette’s collection of whites. Arched dark-wood detailing and reflective patchwork walls define very-nice bathrooms, and a mix of playful art pieces – like a Lego panda – offset the vintage. (One historical black-and-white illustration of Bridge Street, discovered in the space during the refit, is mounted to the ceiling.)

“The space is hard to describe, it speaks for itself,” Hemmes says. “You can see the detail that’s gone into it. We wanted to keep it quite underground – fun and bustling – but you’ve got the elevated elegance, too.”

Eggert adds a modest note. “Regardless of anything I do or the drinks [or front-of-house] team does, the actual building itself deserves to be popular,” he says. “The actual space, the architecture, the design, it’s just so fantastic. Hopefully you just love it, and you want to come back. That’s really my job.”

Good Luck opens on Wednesday April 24. Bookings are now open.

Good Luck
11 Bridge Street, Sydney

Tue to Sat midday–midnight