I'm a freelance writer, blogger and animal wrangler living in Brisbane's western suburbs. Many of my stories offer great giveaways to readers - subscribe to hear about them first.
Published July 9th 2014
Sensory overload meets gustatory seduction
Shaking beef salad. Kwan Brothers image.
If you've ever longed to take a whirlwind culinary tour of South East Asia, but couldn't quite stump up the cash, I have something of a solution for you: Kwan Bros. Yes, some online commentators have complained about the prices at this hip new eatery situated in Fortitude Valley's Alfred Street, but here you'll be able to sample dishes redolent of Singapore's hawker stalls, Bangkok's street carts and the after-work izakayas of Japan - for a whole lot less than the cost of a plane ticket and a new passport.
Situated in a converted Asian food factory of the same name, Kwan Bros secures top marks for authenticity. This late-night, seven-day venue offers oodles of punch and personality, veering as it does between bar, nightclub and restaurant.
Kwan Bros offers an extensive menu of share-style small and large plates in a cavernous interior that is an ode to Asian pop culture - all glitter disco balls and glowing red blue and neon signs and kitsch cartoon wallpaper and Chinese lanterns. Also adding to the atmosphere is a theatrical open kitchen complete with a Japanese-style robata char grill. It's sophisticated and colourful in much the same vein as another of my favourites, Kenmore's Sichuan Bang Bang, which offers a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.
We selected a handful of salads and small plates - salt and pepper squid with Sichuan pepper crust and tangy nahm jim. The deep yellow pineapple fried rice had a hint of curry about it, which contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the pork belly bao sliders, served with red dragon sauce, pickled daikon, coriander and peanuts. And the kaffir lime chicken salad with cabbage and cashews had just the right amount of sourness and a refreshing trace of mint.
It was too bad we didn't leave room for dessert - with choices including a brulee made with lemongrass and kaffir lime, or banana fritters served with cinnamon and roasted coconut ice cream. Also showcased was the 'too bao to handle too cold to hold' which is bao ice cream sandwiches, a deep fried bao bun and toasted sesame, pandan, palm sugar and ice cream.
Pineapple fried rice. Kwan Brothers image.
Large plate options include beef short ribs (braised in a five-spice mix and served with jasmine rice), grass-fed rib fillet with Korean pear dressing, lettuce and kimchee, blue eye cod in banana leaf and crispy pork belly with pickled watermelon and sweet ginger.
The cocktail menu is also fresh and funky and many of the cocktail syrups are made in-house. Particularly appealing were concoctions such as 'Kwan's Coco Loco', comprised of rum, cream of coconut, kaffir lime leaf and black peppercorn syrup, fresh pineapple and lime juices and coconut water, all served in a fresh coconut shell. I also liked the sound of the 'Missionary's Damnation', a blend of chilli vodka, coconut water, lemongrass syrup, fresh lime juice and Vietnamese mint - though be warned, it comes with an 'extra hot' rating.