Look out for the logo, projected onto the pavement of Castlereagh Street outside Hotel Downing, then climb the stairs, past a wall adorned with neon signs and street art-influenced frescoes, and step into Hey Chu – a venue inspired by the vibrant and eclectic late-night drinking culture of Vietnam. Inside, the ceiling is lined with handmade paper lanterns – but that’s where the nods to tradition end.
In the kitchen you can expect interesting takes on the Vietnamese-Australian experience, which may include congee en croute – a take on a pot pie with koshihikari rice and abalone cooked in roasted chicken broth, served in a dainty china bowl decorated with painted flowers. Other highlights from the snack-focused menu might be fried oysters served with roasted chicken fat hollandaise and crispy chicken skin, and sizzling lamb served with shishito peppers.
Around halfway through the night, the late-night menu comes out and is available until close. You can order snacks and even a tableside hibachi until the early hours, on which you can grill seafood from Northside Seafood and Red Claw Seafood, and O’Connor Beef which are dry-aged in-house.
On the drinks front, Hey Chu has a curated a wine list packed with natural wines, mineral-heavy whites and 18 affordable by-the-glass options. The cocktail list aims to push boundaries with drinks such as What the Pho, which combines house-infused coriander tequila with pho syrup and spiced fish sauce.
Adding to the late-night atmosphere is live music, which comes in the form of emerging artists performing a few nights a week, and DJs playing old-school R’n’B hits until late on weekends.
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