I’ve barely had a chance to digest my coconut crushie at Misschu Underground when Nahji Chu informs me that she’s just completed the finishing touches on Potato Ghetto, a spin-off of her popular Misschu tuckshops.
Located adjacent to the Bondi Tuckshop, the new eatery features Chu’s culinary twist on meat-and-two-veg and appropriately, the well known song, “One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Four”. Chu’s menu will feature a range of potato-based fare including vichyssoise, potato cakes and Vietnamese potato crepes. “It’s the humble potato, but sexed up with Vietnamese flavours,” explains Chu.
Chu has designed the look, feel and menu to suit the need for a more winter-friendly establishment. “It’s same, same, but different,” Chu offers. “Like the other Misschus, the design draws on my Vietnamese heritage and a desire for casual, street-style Vietnamese food.”
The timber, flip-top windows, black pavers, Dexion shelving, rice bowl lampshades, exposed concrete block-work mimic the adjacent restaurant, but there are a few points of difference. The primary one is a cleverly integrated a wooden counter which straddles the servery window and allows for simultaneous indoor and outdoor eating. Chu has also included a small loft area, which can be used for private parties, and opened up more of the kitchen which is partially camouflaged with cascading pot plants.
“The cafes are designed to feel like the small, eating houses you might come across in a Vietnamese alleyway,” explains Kano Hollamby, Chu’s designer of choice.
“As a result, we also wanted the space to feel like it’s an extension of the street, using the same pavers as the public thoroughfare to create a seamless flow from outside to inside,” he adds.
Hollamby and Chu are also inventive with their use of materials. “We tend to use basic, simple materials,” says Hollamby. “We like to expose them for what they are. For example we allow the steel-work to rust over time.”
Hollamby was also inspired by a photograph of a Vietnamese sewing room. “I replicated the French green colour and used wooden rods as coat hangers, which resemble the cotton reel holders you’d find in sweatshops.”
There are a few additional elements planned for the space including a custom-designed Sarah Parkes macrame installation which will make reference to commercial fishing nets. “The Misschu spaces are constantly evolving and Potato Ghetto will be no different,” adds Hollamby. “The beauty of Vietnam is that nothing is really planned, it’s all quite incidental. Nahji also tweaks the design, constantly adding her own unique touch to the spaces.”