In the same way Dan Hong repurposed and relaunched prawn toast on an unsuspecting Sydney dining public, China Doll founder Steve Anastasiou wants to bring back lemon chicken at his newest venue, opening this week at West HQ.
Chu Restaurant has the yesteryear Chinese restaurant staple on its opening menu. "It was a favourite of mine. We really wanted to bring it into the 21st century," Anastasiou says.
The zesty dish slides in beside some classics with more sizzle at the table.
It might seem a step back, but in many ways this is Anastasiou's most ambitious opening to date.
"It's my biggest restaurant. It's big enough for 350 [diners], but I'm not going to do that," he says. "It'll be a comfortable 275.
"It's extravagant. There's lots of gold, lots of brass, velour. Custom-made chandeliers shaped like palms, large crystal chandeliers, small ones."
There's also a giant smiling gold Buddha at the restaurant's entrance. "It's two-and-a-half metres high. We had to go to a TV props company to make it," Anastasiou says.
With the design touching on 1940s Shanghai glamour, the restaurant also has an imposing dumpling menu.
There's quality in the kitchen, with Ben Haywood, the former head chef at China Lane, trekking west.
With the doors opening on the Sydney Coliseum Theatre next to the restaurant, West HQ chief executive Richard Errington described the opening of Chu as "another major milestone moment".
For Anastasiou, it's back to where it all began. "Being born and raised in the west, choosing to open a new restaurant within West HQ wasn't a hard decision for me ... I couldn't refuse."
Open Wed-Sun, lunch from noon and dinner from 5.30pm.
West HQ, 55 Sherbrooke Street, Rooty Hill, churestaurant.com.au/reservations/