The Evening Star Hotel on Elizabeth Street was once the seedy haunt of local journos. In signature Surry Hills fashion, the Hotel has undergone an extensive facelift. The divey atmosphere is no more, but a little devilishness remains at this new Asian-inspired eatery and cocktail bar.
Urban Village caught up with head chef Seb Gee, the brain behind Gweilo’s Asian fusion style menu. Gee is a veteran of the Sydney food scene, having previously worked for Merivale’s Est, China Diner, Kid Kyoto and China Lane.
“I was inspired by my recent trip to Hong Kong, where I ate at a few modern Cantonese restaurants like Happy Paradise and Ho Lee Fook. I loved how they utilised western techniques and flavours, mixed in with Cantonese cuisine,” says Gee.
The chef’s captivation with fusing cultures is clear from a glance at the menu: Wagyu beef shin, carrot and Tooheys rendang, ‘Eggplant parmi’ bao, or smoked pumpkin and corn dumpling with roast chili, almond and sorrel.
“We are not the normal local pub venue. There are a lot of different cultures in Sydney and I like to show that through the cuisine, predominately with an Asian twist, and with a bit of fun.”
The space itself reflects the innovative menu. Designed by Surry Hills based firm Paul Kelly, Gweilo is a blend of classic architecture and retro-futuristic styling. Theatrics play a part in every aspect of the venue; the printed tile mural and dramatic arches are the stage, and the food is the main event.
Gee has crafted the menu to be shared, encouraging a casual yet elegant dining experience. “I much prefer to share a dish or a few than eat off my own plate. I like to think it makes for a more enjoyable evening.”
“I love watching customers’ expressions when they enjoy eating something that they might recognise from their own culture, travel or background – and it tastes or looks same, same but different.”
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