While James Packer is still in the early stages of scouting food operators for his upcoming Barangaroo casino, on the other side of Darling Harbour, The Star is already fuelling a mini restaurant boom in Pyrmont.
As Good Food tipped last month, Sokyo chef Chase Kojima and Victor Liong (from Melbourne's Lee Ho Fook) are teaming up on a new restaurant sliding into the former waterfront site of Flying Fish restaurant at Jones Bay Wharf, about five minutes away from the casino.
Chuuka – a mash-up of Japanese and Chinese flavours and techniques – is a confirmed starter with a July launch date.
While the work of this talented chef duo in bridging two powerhouse cuisines will be intriguing, it is just the first such play backed by The Star. Chief operating officer, Dino Mezzatesta, says it is Star's first "off-property" restaurant but might not be the last investment outside its complex as it looks to tap new clientele and provide outside dining options for casino hotel guests.
Mezzatesta also has expansion plans back at the fort, where he'd like to add a Middle Eastern and Thai restaurant to the mix at The Star. "We think an Italian restaurant at the premium casual end would also be great," he tells Good Food.
But for now Chuuka, which gets its name from the dishes Chinese immigrants introduced to Japan, is the focus.
"I am at my best when I am in the kitchen cooking with others and with The Star they encourage that freedom of expression and collaboration," Kojima says of the opening menu.
And the chef's hatted Kojima has an interesting kitchen mate, Liong a graduate of Sydney's Marque restaurant before focusing on Chinese cuisine. Their collaboration is a mix of their individual styles but Kojima says they have also challenged each other "to create something totally new".