Jimmy Liks has developed its own style of contemporary Asian food inspired by the rustic hawker foods of Thailand and South East Asia. The flavours, although balanced, are uncompromisingly invigorating and robust.
The dishes are intended to be shared. Our classic dishes include the salt & pepper squid, the Vietnamese braised wagyu beef and the devilishly sticky twice cooked-pork hock. With seasonal additions every week, sometimes it’s easiest to ask the wait staff to help.
An interview with Head Chef, Fiona Hatchett
What’s are you trying to achieve with the Jimmy Liks kitchen?
“Its similar to the experience happening in the dining room really. Our kitchen team shares a sense of adventure – we are all about exploring new expressions of contemporary South East Asian flavours, ingredients and processes. We hope the same thing is happening out in the restaurant with your friends.
What’s your favourite cooking?
“I love slow slow braising. Beef cheeks, pork hock, duck. Slow braising creates some incredibly deep flavours and textures that contrast so well with crunchy and fresh and sharper flavours that come into dishes at the end. It’s the braising that delivers those deep base notes”
What’s the secret to the flavours you achieve?
“With a lot of our dishes it comes down to two things -first we do everything here, from scratch. From making our own curry pastes, all our sauces obviously, but even things like chilli salts. We do our own fluffy shrimp. Even our coconut sugar is our own special blend. Prep is a very very long process in this kitchen – we have some pretty complex process to go through to build up a dish.
And that’s the second thing – control and balance of every detail. Big flavours are easy -but what we want is deep flavours that are balanced, contrasting but with some finesse and subtlety. It’s a bit like composing music. It’s easy to get the orchestra to just play loud, but that’s not interesting. You need every little ingredient doing its small role at every stage of the process to make something that works as a wonderful complete dish.
What ingredients would I find in the kitchen?
Whatever is in season. Actually, more accurately, whatever is in season in the Australian tropics, which is an important supplier to us. Some rare asian ingredients only have a 3 week season so we have to be ready. Right now custard apples are at their peak so we are working with them this week.
I always look forward to September because around then the first good green mangoes are harvested in the tropics.
But generally, in our kitchen you’d find lots of lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, holly basil, pea and apple eggplants and krachi (wild ginger). Fresh dragon fruit are a favourite. Fresh pandanas leaf is used a lot (we use pandanas in curries, soups and deserts or just to wrap stuff in). What else? Cassia bark, lotus root, dark palm sugar. You can go on quite a tour of asia in our cool room.
Where do you get your ingredients? Who are your favourite suppliers?
The suppliers are really important to us. Most have been with us for years and years. I don’t like to pick favourites but… Bettina “the eel lady” is special. She get us our wild caught victorian hot-smoked eel.
And of course we should really do big shout out to the wonderful Fiat from Sunrise Asian Produce and his team of growers in Darwin. Fiat flys us in authentic fresh, premium asian produce from small growers. (Here’s Fiat in a growers market video). He is brilliant.
Locally we are always dashing down to Sydney’s “Thainatown” district, to Christine Tan at Dong Nam A & Co who always manages to save us a batch of some hard to find ingredient.
What do you hope diners will see in your food?
An excuse to come together with friends to share and explore flavours, fragrances and textures across South East Asia. There’s no food envy at Jimmy Liks – grab some roti bread and dive into your friends dish now! Its been a communal journey to create the dish – it should be a communal adventure to eat it to!