The dining experience at Chuuka takes ‘Asian fusion’ to the next level, creating dishes that truly combine both cuisines. Take the ebi chilli, which is a Japanese version of a Szechuan dish that is very popular in Japan. The stir-fried prawns are dosed in chilli miso butter and served with a Japanese milk buns for dipping.
Another favourite dish of the chefs is the tempura yuzu chicken. The fried chicken is powdered with dried chilli and coated in a sweet and sour sauce that’s made using the Japanese citrus.
“Chase is an American and he’s always got this connotation of PF Chang’s and Panda Express, so it’s a nostalgic dish for him and fits well [with what we’re doing] because it keeps it a little bit fun.”
Chuuka’s ‘roe service’ brings Sydney’s fresh seafood into the mix, and, at the moment, includes marinated trout roe caviar and Tasmanian sea urchin roe. Each order comes with accompaniments that include tea-smoked eggs, which are served sashimi-style — another example of the influences from both cuisines.
The popular Szechuan dish bang bang chicken is already a fan favourite, too. Strips of silken chicken are pounded and topped with chilli oil, peanuts, shiso salad and yuzu kosho (a fermented paste made from yuzu and chilli).
“This dish is one that’s purely a fifty-fifty dish,” says Kojima. “We came to the agreement where we kept the chicken in the bang bang sauce exactly as Victor had done it, then added a slaw with yuzu pepper sauce just to add a touch more acidity.”
For dessert, there’s a frozen yogurt service, which acts as an ode to Japan’s many fro-yo bars. Freshly churned yoghurt sorbet, mascarpone ice cream and frozen French meringue are served with a variety of toppings, including yuzu and ginger jam, Vietnamese coffee jelly, roasted hazelnuts and matcha milk crumb.
Out at the bar, manager Behzad Nvaziri has created a seasonal cocktail list named for five elements. Liong’s favourite is the Earth, a balanced and, of course, earthy combination of mezcal, pomegranate and sansho pepper. There’s also the Metal (coconut-washed vodka mule with honeydew and calamansi) and the Fire (Hong Kong baijiu with Dom Benedictine liqueur and mango and chilli oleo) to choose from. The extensive wine list spans two pages of by-the-glass and seven by-the-bottle, and focuses on Australian and European drops.
Pair these with bar bites, like the wagyu short rib with carrot kimchi and sweet miso, or the pickled Spring Bay mussels with kohlrabi, charred green garlic, whipped tofu and chilli.
CHEF’S PICK: FOUR THINGS TO ORDER
So what should you order? Liong and Kojima have spent months this menu, so we thought they’d be the best people to ask. Here are four picks from the Chuuka menu.