Kylie Kwong’s long-awaited South Eveleigh diner – named Lucky Kwong – is set to open next week, on May 25. But if you were expecting Billy Kwong 2.0, it’s time to adjust those expectations – this casual Australian-Cantonese eatery will have more in common with Kwong’s beloved Saturday-morning Carriageworks stall, where she pumped out prawn dumplings and savoury pancakes. Lucky Kwong will be a walk-in-and-order-at-the-counter-style affair, open Monday to Friday, with no bookings and the option to eat in or take away.
Lucky Kwong is named after Lucky, the baby son Kwong and her wife, Nell, lost in 2012. “Since this life-changing event I have been on the most extraordinary personal journey, which has prompted me to refocus, re-evaluate, and re-assess,” Kwong said in a statement. “Lucky has taught me about the preciousness of every single moment and to take every opportunity to live a full, rich and meaningful life.”
The new diner is all about accessibility, with a small menu and revolving specials highlighting producers (such as Boon Luck Farm), native ingredients and chef collaborations. Expect Kwong signatures such as prawn dumplings, Uncle Jimmy’s noodles, caramelised pork belly with Davidson’s plum, stir-fried vegetables with tofu, and steamed savoury pancakes with toppings such as Fish Butchery’s yellowfin tuna and XO.
“For me, Lucky Kwong is all about true nourishment,” says Kwong. “This eatery is a celebration of everything I love in life with care, community, collaboration and delicious, life-giving food at its heart. This is a big shift for me as a restaurateur. Lucky Kwong allows me to live in a more balanced and holistic way, with food and nourishment still at the centre of what I do, but equally co-existing with my other great passion – community engagement.”
In addition to operating an eatery in the burgeoning South Eveleigh precinct, Kwong is also its ambassador, developing relationships with the local community. She works closely with Cudgenburra and Bundjalung man Clarence Slockee, who is the director of Jiwah, an Indigenous-owned and led cultural landscape and design company. Along with his team, Slockee looks after the grounds at South Eveleigh, provides some of the native ingredients Kwong will use at her new diner and is establishing an organic garden nearby for Kwong to source herbs and vegetables.
“Beyond being a great gathering place for delicious food, I want Lucky Kwong to nourish and feed people’s spirit, to be a force for good,” says Kwong. “It’s a simple and humble offering that is very clear in its intention and motivation to positively contribute to society. I want to inspire through the sustainable produce we serve, highlighting native foods, the quality of the art and design, local collaborations with like-minded chefs and colleagues, and continual engagement with the many diverse and dynamic communities surrounding South Eveleigh.”
Lucky Kwong will join other recently opened venues in the South Eveleigh hub, including Matt Whiley’s sustainability-minded bar Re– and Rara Chan. Once the Mirvac development is complete, it will house around 18,000 workers.
Lucky Kwong is slated to open at 2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh, on May 25.