When BBQ King abruptly closed in September there was a wave of online hysteria. The three-decade-old restaurant is etched into many Sydneysiders minds as a late night haunt, a bloody good roast duck vendor or as a Sydney institution. “Suddenly we were bombarded with messages. ‘Where are you guys?’” says Cecilia Chau, daughter of the restaurant’s two owners Agnes and Phillip. “I didn’t know it meant that much to so many people. It was really surprising and really humbling.”
Six months later they’re back with a new restaurant just one street over. The iconic ducks which hung out the front of the old Goulburn Street site are back too, sold by weight from the restaurant’s front counter or delivered to the tables in one of BBQ King’s famous roast duck dishes. “Dad would never not have the duck’s hanging. It’s always been the BBQ King feature. They want to celebrate that. Dad thinks the more ducks the better,” says Cecilia.
One of the blessings of the move, Cecilia says, has been an unexpected increase in quality. “Our kitchen downstairs, where they roast the ducks, is smaller. So there are now two chefs constantly making ducks and it’s a lot fresher.” As ducks are getting to the tables faster, the duck skin has less time to lose its snap and the meat less time to dry out. “We’ve got a lot of feedback saying it tastes much better,” she says.
The other noticeable difference is in the restaurant’s fit out. The cheap metal framed furniture, busy walls and fake brick flooring from the old site are long gone. In its place Cecilia and fellow architect Richard Chan have gone for a minimalist design that honours the building’s origins. The old warehouse has high ceilings with timber beams, while the furnishings mix mid-century chairs with classic white tablecloths and Lazy Susans. “It was a good opportunity to freshen it up,” says Chau.
Unfortunately those whose memories of BBQ King consists of post-gig won’t be feeling as relieved as everyone else. Due to council regulations, the 3am closing time of the old site is no longer.
76-78 Liverpool Street, Sydney
(02) 9267 2433
Mon–Sun 10am – 12am