ChauChow By Zyon is a pop-up restaurant putting a tasty spin on Chinese takeaway fare

True story – Fortitude Valley’s best new eatery for casual Asian-fusion cuisine is in a nightclub. Yes, you read that correctly. One of Brisbane’s best young chefs is at the helm of ChauChow, a pop-up dining concept that is serving a spiffed-up take on Chinese takeaway classics. It officially launches this weekend – here’s what we know …

Mar 22, 2024, updated Mar 28, 2024

When Ben Chow returned to cooking after a year away from the pans, he did so with the intent of finding an opportunity that was different from anything he’d done before. The culinary talent, whose resume includes Gerard’s BistroAgnes Restaurant and Cordeaux Social Club, wanted to sidestep the artifice and trappings of contemporary high-end hospitality in favour of something casual.Enter Jacky Chau.

The nightlife events maestro was in the process of opening Zyon, a new-wave nightclub taking shape one level above Chinatown Mall, in the site formerly home to The Palace Lounge. In addition to the main nightclub floor, cushy curved booths and a clutch of karaoke rooms, Zyon was equipped with its own kitchen and separate dining space.

So when Jacky reached out to Ben to see if it was something he’d be keen to take over, it looked to be the exact kind of low-key project the chef was seeking.Together they came up with the concept of ChauChow by Zyon – a pop-up restaurant operating within, but separate to, the nightclub itself. After entering via Zyon’s Duncan Street entrance, guests ascend the gold-accented steps to a junction between club on the right and eatery on the left. Don’t worry – you’re not weaving your way across a dance floor to find your seat. ChauChow’s dining room is a self-contained space with its own bar and balcony access. The way Ben and Jacky see it, ChauChow has the freedom to be its own thing, a separate but complementary piece of Zyon as a whole.

“Some places down south have their food and they have their club and it transitions. We wanted to be able to do that here,” explains Ben. “We wanted to bring ChauChow and Zyon together, so you can have that eat culture and then maybe stay and party, but if not, you can eat and then go somewhere else –it’s just an easy, not serious eatery.”

When it came time to pen the menu, Ben’s thoughts turned towards inspirations that were comforting, familiar and, most importantly, casual.

“I wanted to do fancy take on dodgy Chinese takeaway – like your local Chinese takeaway sort of thing,” Ben tells us. “So it is my fun approach to food. Nothing serious, it’s just more taste over anything.”

Until now, the crew has been keeping ChauChow on the down-low, opening the pop-up to select groups of family, friends and VIPs. But now, Ben an Jacky are officially unveiling the concept to the general public on Friday March 22, unveiling a brand-new free-flowing menu to celebrate.

“There is no main, there is no entree – it’s just snacks. It’s the food that I do, anyway. I like the smaller, more fun things,” explains Ben. “I just want an a la carte menu where you can order one of everything and it all goes together.”

ChauChow’s menu starts with two-bite beauties like tuna cigars with daikon and yuzu kosho, and scallops with barbecued leek, miso almond cream and XO.

From there, guests can fill their table with plates of tiger prawn toast with whipped tofu and salmon roe, crispy chicken wings coated in supreme sambal butter, wagyu tataki crowned with scampi roe and charcoal ponzu, sweet-and-sour barbecue lamb ribs, and maze gohan mushroom rice.

On the drinks front, ChauChow by Zyon guests can can share soju-based teapot cocktails (with flavours including peach, lychee and watermelon), a clutch of signature cocktails, tap beers, spirits and a small selection of wines.

There’s more to come – the space is still being refined with more decorative elements being added. The team is also eager to activate the venue’s balcony for more dining, including Friday knock-offs and sun-soaked Sunday sessions. Ben will be adding rotating specials to the menu as well, and is keen to host wine dinners with independent makers.

As for the club itself, every Friday Zyon hosts different events curated by a rotating selection of party starters, while Saturdays are dedicated to Zyon’s own Scarlett club night.

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