Where to dine for Lunar New Year 2019
Get ready to pig out.
Happy New Year… again!
February 5 sees us entering the Year of the Pig – and Luke Nguyen is gearing up for a fitting feast at Treasury Brisbane.
Chef Luke is combining his celebrated Vietnamese/Chinese style from venues Red Lantern (Sydney) and Fat Noodle (Sydney and Brisbane) to dish up a duo of unmissable feasting opportunities this Lunar New Year. At a Night Market on February 1 and an exclusive Chefs’ Banquet on February 2 (devised collaboratively with Chase Kojima of the Gold Coast’s Kiyomi), there’ll be more buns, noodles, and dumplings than you can point a pig at.
“My earliest memories of celebrating Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) are from around five years old, getting woken up at midnight by my mother,” says Luke. “She would drive the whole family to the temple where we would light large amounts of incense and pray to the gods and offer our respects to our ancestors.”
In fact, it was those experiences of celebrating and paying respects to ancestral relatives during Tet that helped to build the foodie flame in Luke: “For me, the most exciting part of our temple visits were the delicious vegetarian meals that the Buddhist monks would prepare. Massive pots of stocks would be simmering away, and I remember being so amazed at the sheer volume of food the monks were cooking, catering for thousands of people per day.”
For Luke, Lunar New Year was, and is, all about the food. He recalls “after hours of praying, only then were we allowed to eat the prepared dishes: whole steamed fish, whole chicken, whole roast duck and lots of noodles. Everything would have to be served whole, as it symbolizes happiness and prosperity. Serving noodles symbolises long life, and duck symbolises fidelity.”
Visitors to the Night Market can look forward to mini beef phở, Vietnamese chicken salad, spicy steamed bao, delicious dumplings, and sweet pandan brûlée, as well as live entertainment including lion dancers, themed pop-up bars, and a Red Lotus cocktail on arrival – as well as an opportunity to meet and mingle with Luke!
Meanwhile, at the Chef’s Banquet, the food will be the main event. Luke’s excitement for the event (which will be held under swinging red lanterns in Treasury’s courtyard) is clear, as is his enthusiasm for collaborating with Chase: “Our style of cooking is quite similar, as our dishes are very fresh, light and extremely tasty. I’m really looking forward to this event!”
“Chase is one the best chefs in Australia, and one of the most down to earth too,” says Luke. “We have known each other for eight years now, and every year he inspires me more and more.”
Luke’s picks from their Lunar New Year menu? “My favourite dish would have to be the pork belly… It is deliciously caramelized and sticky, which is wonderfully balanced out by serving it with our bitter melon soup and fresh chicken and cabbage salad – this is the Yin and Yang of Southeast Asian cooking.”