Chinatown institution BBQ King is back – but with a 2016 update. It now it has a VIP level and new location in Sydney's Spanish Quarter.
Don't worry, though – the classic dishes remain and you can still order Peking duck ($88 for two courses) or any of 12 variations of roasted duck on the many-paged menu. Neil Perry has already been in since it reopened under a fortnight ago – so consider that an early endorsement.
The original restaurant – with its hard-to-miss windows of barbecued meats – was nearby on Goulburn Street, and until it closed last year, had been a Chinatown fixture since 1983.
"The restaurant is nearly older than me!" says Cecilia Chau, who runs it with parents, Agnes and Philip Chau.
"I have many memories of the restaurant. I always remember the ducks hanging out to dry, the smell of all the roast meats in the early morning ... I am sure that many more memories will be made at our new location."
The new venue has three distinct floors: the basement for casual dining and ground level is for takeaway. It catches your eye when walking past the heritage building and is "where all the action's at", says Chau. "You can see the chefs cooking in the kitchen, flames and all."
The mezzanine (VIP) level offers distance and quiet from the ground-floor buzz and features views over Liverpool Street, too.
And while BBQ King's look has changed, "Peking duck is still our biggest seller", says Chau. The process of making it – from a decades-old recipe – starts early in the morning and stretches into the night for a long, slow-tempo roast.
BBQ King also applies its high-blister heat and sizzle to signatures such as the suckling pig ($42.80 or $480 if you're a high roller who wants to order it whole), roast pork ($30.80) and soya chicken ($24.80) at the new venue.
Beyond roasts, people still order the salt and pepper prawn ($34.80), crispy shredded beef with tangy sauce ($24.80), and sang choy bao lettuce bowls ($14 for two).
What's changed, though, is the area, with Darling Quarter emerging nearby and Sydney's inevitable transformation into a more diverse city since 1983.
"The other night there was a table of taxi drivers enjoying a meal during their break, all while sitting next to a trendy young group posting photos of their meals with their phones," says Chau. "I have always loved how our restaurant appeals to such a wide range of people - it really is very humbling."
Open daily 10am-midnight.
76-78 Liverpool Street, Sydney, 02 9267 2433, facebook.com/bbqkingsydney