Celebrated for his contemporary take on Vietnamese cuisine, Luke Nguyen is a household name in Sydney, where he opened his restaurants Red Lantern and The Fat Noodle. This November, the Vietnamese chef will be collaborating with ZS Hospitality Group to open his first restaurant in Hong Kong. The new restaurant, taking over the space that formerly housed Viet Kitchen, is named Moi Moi, and Hong Kong Tatler had the opportunity to sit down with the esteemed chef and television personality and talk about his plans for Hong Kong and what inspires him to create.
I was born to a family of Vietnamese refugees and moved to Australia when I was little.
I worked in my family’s Vietnamese restaurant when I was little. It is a shop selling mostly noodles, but it is essentially this that I fell in love with, especially cooking.
It doesn’t matter where you are, when you have your raw materials ready to go. It is easy to do Vietnamese cooking. Such was the case in Australia.
The building blocks of Vietnamese cuisine are freshness, ingredients and the knowledge of where dishes come from.
I love sharing the history and stories of dishes with the guests. I believe it is how you learn, and to appreciate a certain dish.
Moi Moi is about street food. I call it Vietnamese street food with an Australian accent. It is made with old family recipes but presented in a contemporary way.
I don’t care if bringing street food into restaurants is a trend or a fad, it is something I’m passionate in doing for the past 15 years, and it feels great doing it.
My dishes are about family, the style it was cooked, and the way it was cooked, maintained and transcended through generations.
My cookbooks document my travels and my stories. I don’t enjoy writing a recipe book, but it’s better to put down the stories of food I had, people I met, and experiences I encountered.
There is no right or wrong ways to eat pho, and my way isn’t original either. I have a small dish with half hoisin sauce and half sriracha, next to it we must have high-quality fish sauce, fresh chilies, bean sprouts, Thai basil, sawtooth coriander, and some lime wedges. When you taste the broth, you feel it needs something extra, you add from your stash of add-ons, and just like that, back and forth, you mix, taste, and enjoy your best pho.