Feast on fat rice noodles and xiao long bao at Chu Bistro in Bowen Hills
A new culinary concept has appeared at the base of the Madison Heights Apartments complex, which stands at the centre of the ever-bustling nexus of Campbell Street and Mayne Road in Bowen Hills. Boasting a modern-industrial aesthetic, a menu of aromatic pan-Asian dishes and a cocktail list infused with a colourful array of ingredients, Chu Bistro is delivering an experience perfectly suited for lively group dinners and after-work libations.
If the name Joe Zhu doesn’t immediately ring any bells, perhaps you might be more familiar with the fare served at his popular Camp Hill cafe Picnic. Although its menu is loaded with quintessential Australian breakfast options like hash benedicts and smashed avocado, Picnic has always boasted a few Asian twists as well – we’re talking sticky pork belly steamed buns and quinoa nasi goreng. Joe’s latest venue Chu Bistro sees him further embracing pan-Asian cuisine, incorporating his own Chinese heritage and the flavours of south-east Asia for what is best described as an informal bar-meets-restaurant concept. Chu Bistro sits in the space formerly occupied by Locos Kitchen & Bar, but the interior is now markedly different from the previous occupant’s graffiti-laden aesthetic. Joe and his team have opted for a clean industrial look, implementing brown leather banquette seats, a concrete bar and a chic palette of patterned greys. The space still holds between 70 and 80 guests comfortably, with high ceilings giving the venue a sense of space and street-facing windows offering prime position for people watching.
Chu Bistro’s subdued aesthetic is offset by the colourful array of food and drinks, with the eye-catching selection of share-style dishes largely designed to cater to groups of diners (don’t worry, solo diners keen to devour a few serves of dumplings can do so – you also have our respect). The menu draws inspiration from numerous countries, including but not limited to China, Thailand and Indonesia. The fun starts with the selection of small plates, with the likes of pork and crab xiao long bao, shrimp-and-fish-stuffed tofu and barbecue-pork steamed buns. Larger plates deliver more substantial portions, running the gamut of vegetable dishes (broccoli served with salted soybean butter and garlic), meaty options (crispy skin duck with Balinese chilli and twice-cooked sticky pork ribs), and rice and noodle plates (fat rice noodles with Chinese sausage, fish cakes, chicken and eggs). Over at the bar, a selection of classic cocktails are given an Asian-inspired makeover, with the likes of the ginger sour (an interpretation of an amaretto sour made with ginger reduction and White Possum amaretto) and the Vietnamese espresso martini (topped with condensed-milk foam) being sure-fire standouts. The rest of the cocktails are made using Chu Bistro’s own house-made syrups and premium first-pour spirits, but those keen on something simpler can opt for craft beer on tap or pick from a selection of Australian and New Zealand wines – each selected specifically to complement the fare.
Chu Bistro is now open to the public. For opening hours and other handy bits of info, head to the Stumble Guide.
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