It took Mirza Baig, general manager of new properties at family-run hospitality company Momento Group (Sarino’s), four months to build the senior leadership team for Jinja, an ambitious new contemporary Cantonese restaurant on the first floor of Macquarie Park’s Governor Hotel. The months of toil paid off. When palatial Jinja opens on August 3, it’ll be helmed by an impressive, globally trained team.
In the kitchen, head chef Sebastian Tan (former head chef of Crown’s Cantonese diner Silks) will be joined by speciality chef Kushal Lama, who has moved from India to Sydney specifically for the role.
“It was really important for us to bring together the perfect team for this project, and Kushal comes from a family of incredibly talented Chinese chefs,” Baig tells Broadsheet. Lama’s restaurant manager Alexandra Wu joins the team from Shanghai, where she’s worked at the Ritz-Carlton.
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Ryan Adams, (ex-general manager at Little Pearl, Manly Wine and The Rook) will be overseeing the bar’s cocktail menu, international wine list and by-the-glass baijiu (Chinese grain spirit).
“Baijiu is typically a toasting drink in China, with the clinking of glasses part of the ceremony, but here in Australia it’s very rarely served by the glass,” Baig says. Jinja will also offer a tea ceremony, with a large tea station in the centre of the dining room holding more than 100 canisters of vintage Chinese tea, with 17 teas available to order.
Lobster and scallop dumplings and Wagyu-stuffed black charcoal buns are just a few of the 20 dim sum available. Other signatures include lobster sang choy bao, Cantonese-style roast duck and a king crab fried rice with XO. Desserts are a contemporary Asian affair: green tea soya pudding is topped with lychee granita and crumbled cookies, and there’s a “secret deep-fried ice-cream”.
Jinja is named for a fictional character conceived by Sydney artist Ronnie Samuels, who has worked closely with Momento Group on artwork throughout the venue. Samuels’s paintings of Jinja – a socialite who is passionate about food and splits her time between Sydney and Shanghai – inspired the 218-seat restaurant’s extravagant, elegant aesthetic.
The opulent design concept by Archebiosis nods to modern Beijing, historical Shanghai and colonial Hong Kong. Velvet booths are backed by gold-trimmed matte-black walls, and the ceremonial tea and dumpling stations are signposted with blazing neon signs. A glass-fronted wine cabinet occupies one wall, housing a 100-strong wine list that includes bottles from the owners’ private collection.
“There are a few wines on the list that aren’t served anywhere else in Sydney. The owners didn’t hold back with this venue – after the success of their other projects, they wanted to create something completely luxurious, this time as an ode to Asia,” says Baig.
Jinja’s fictional namesake would expect no less.
Wed to Sat 12pm–2pm, 5pm–10pm