Restaurant-bar Chi Chi brings Asian flavours to a Sydney landmark

'Pure Black' Angus sirloin with black pepper and curry leaves at Chi Chi.
'Pure Black' Angus sirloin with black pepper and curry leaves at Chi Chi. Photo: Killian Pham

 What do you get when you take a landmark 1980s Harry Seidler building, a former Sepia chef and a pan-Asian menu, then stir them together with a swizzle stick? Chi Chi, a restaurant and bar that opens its doors this week at Grosvenor Place on George Street.

The latest venue from the entrepreneurial George Nahas (Fortuna, Bellucci Cantina, Gypsy Espresso), Chi Chi is tucked beside the famed stairs in the building's concourse.

Damien Mulvihill, who crafted the award-winning interiors at Melbourne's Higher Ground, has woven timber with a sprawling olive green banquet in Chi Chi's circular dining nook. Architecture nerds aside, Chi Chi will live or wilt on its food, and Nahas hand-picked chef Bremmy Setiyoko, not just because he has Sepia and Rockpool Dining on his CV, but because of his Asian food background and a spell in the Spice Temple kitchen.

Chi Chi is tucked beside Sydney's best-known staircase at Grosvenor Place.
Chi Chi is tucked beside Sydney's best-known staircase at Grosvenor Place. Photo: Ash Mar

The restaurateur's first foray into Asian cuisine has been meticulously conceived. He thought long and hard about what was in short supply at the northern end of the CBD, and spent countless hours observing what typed of eateries Sydneysiders would join a queue for.

He's come up with an Asian restaurant and bar that will be open from sun up until late.

"Bremmy shaves apple into really fine ribbons and mixes it with poached prawns and a yuzu salad," says Nahas. Also on the opening menu are a black pepper Angus sirloin, a crispy eggplant dish and a short-rib massaman curry.

Chicken, spanner crab, tamarind and lemongrass salad.
Chicken, spanner crab, tamarind and lemongrass salad. Photo: Killian Pham

"We'll do breakfast as well. There are plenty of places in the city that do the standard breakfast, so we'll do something different. It might be sambal or XO with your eggs, and we're going to do a congee," he adds.

Nahas likes to add a clever sideline signature at his venues. When he opened Fortuna Drink + Eat in Darlinghurst earlier this year, he included a side window selling takeaway focaccia by the slice. At Chi Chi, that sneaky sideline will come out of a separate venue.

"We are opening a street hawker on the next floor up in about five weeks," Nahas says. As for the menu and a name for that spin-off, we'll have to wait and see.

Open breakfast Mon-Fri; lunch Mon-Sat; dinner Tue-Sat.

Shop 3, lower ground floor, 225 George Street, Sydney