Nigella Lawson has good taste. When she spent a few weeks in Sydney in 2019 she made a point of stopping by some of Sydney’s best restaurants, including Icebergs, Momofuku Seiobo (sadly now closed), stalwarts like Sean’s Panaroma and Bills, and Saint Peter in Paddington – where she bumped into fellow English celeb chef Jamie Oliver.
Recently, Lawson was down south for the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. But before she left the country, she made a fleeting visit to Sydney – and while she was here, she made sure to stop at one restaurant in particular: Kylie Kwong’s canteen-style South Eveleigh diner, Lucky Kwong.
Posting about her experience on Instagram, the famed English cook and author wrote, “What a true blessing it is to eat well, and [Lucky Kwong] is one of those special places you feel that deeply. It’s not fancy or flashy – far from it – but it’s so full of heart, and – as ever – [Kwong’s] cooking is exquisite, joyful, and like no one else’s. So many people talk in a po-faced and worthy way about using native ingredients and then make food that’s self-referencing, woefully deracinated and not necessarily guaranteed to delight. Kylie could not be more different: she glows when she talks about her community, its ingredients and the creative collaboration her food springs from.”
While she was there, Lawson tucked into the diner’s steamed spanner crab and prawn dumplings, doused in Sichuan-chilli dressing and native bush mint, followed up with steamed prawn dumplings with ginger, coriander and shallot dressing.
Next up she enjoyed the savoury steamed-egg pancakes with fish from Josh Niland’s Fish Butchery, and Kwong’s glorious “home-style” fried eggs. “These I remember loving at Kylie’s old restaurant, Billy Kwong: crunchy, crispy, and melting soft in parts, these are deep-fried and divine, with XO sauce, tamari and shallots,” she wrote.
Another Billy Kwong classic, Uncle Jimmy’s hokkien noodles, was up next, as well as a plate of stir-fried greens grown on-site in South Eveleigh and at Boon Luck Farm in the Northern Rivers. “I had to have two bowls of these, and dream about them still,” she wrote.
Lawson also knocked back a Two Metre Tall farmhouse beer created to match with Kwong’s food. And finally, she sampled the Lucky Kwong Community Soda, crafted in collaboration with Matt Whiley’s bar next door, Re–.
“What an experience! What a blessing! I cannot wait to come back,” she wrote.
Kwong also posted about the visit on her Instagram, writing, “Your all-knowing presence based on a rich, deep, full life and your ever-expanding, kind heart filled our space to overflowing. All of we cooks, chefs and restaurateurs absolutely love when you come to Australia; your genuine interest and engagement, encouragement and appreciation for each of our individual practices is deeply felt long after you leave.”
Even Jamie Oliver piped up – simply commenting “Jealous” on Kwong’s Instagram post. Indeed.