Kwan Brothers is a sensory overload.
The music is loud, the decorations are loud and the food and cocktails are very loud!
Invited along as guests in a group of 5, including my boyfriend, we probably ate for 10. I had certainly pushed my limit that day after having a lunch steak at The Norman Hotel earlier that day followed by baked treats in our weekly lab meeting. I’m always up for an eating marathon! NO REGRETS!
Aided by tasty Asian-influenced cocktails, we sampled a multitude of recommended starters. The service was great. The food comes out super fast so much so that we were quickly running out of table space!
We tried both the popular fried chicken bao and the pork bao (not pictured). My favourite was the pork, which had plenty of flavour and sauce. I found the fried chicken quite dry especially in combination with the bao bun which would’ve benefited from more of the mayo. For almost $10, two buns seems a little lacking too.
Also not pictured was the Peking duck spring rolls. Definitely not true Peking duck but delicious all the same. Fresh herbs and duck rolled up in a thin and crispy shell to dip this into plum sauce made this one of the more flavourful starters.
The KFC (Kwan’s Fried Chicken) was moist but uninspiring and nothing out of the ordinary. The cubes of pickled daikon were fun to snack on though. The crispy tofu was good. But like the chicken, was a little ordinary. It needed the sauce to have flavour. It was under seasoned on it’s own.
The salmon tartare was cold and creamy, a refreshing change from the other hot dishes. And who doesn’t love prawn crackers?! The bubbles of salmon roe were great too! I didn’t taste anything particularly Vietnamese about this dish though.
The lamb chops were my favourite starter. Charcoal grilled meat is always delicious. A sliver of pink pickled ginger on top of the succulent and juicy lamb chop added a bit of zing with each bite!
I didn’t get to taste the eggs but Nic tells me they were “good”. Perhaps one of the least value-for-money dishes, coming just under $9 for two eggs.
Tip: Pour all accompanying sauces over the dish rather than dipping.
- Removes fiddling around with dipping food with chopsticks, a difficulty especially when reaching over other dishes
- You don’t waste the sauce, and
- It adds flavour.
The mains were a lot more interesting.
There are two beef dishes. One is a short rib which comes with the bone for you to suck on. This was covered in a sticky, sweet sauce and served with rice. The other was a rib fillet, thinly sliced so that you don’t have to do it yourself. It was served with a fruity Korean pear dressing and an overpowering kimchi. The rib fillet and kimchi was good combination but the dressing was unnecessary. The kimchi acts as a flavour enhancer plus crunch, rendering the lettuce redundant. It’s also really hard to eat giant leaves of lettuce with chopsticks.
The pineapple rice is presented in half a pineapple. It looks visually appealing and tasted good. The rice retained its shape, there was plenty of pineapple and the flavouring was great. However, balancing it on a large plate meant we almost lost our rice to the table/ground and doesn’t make it look like the best value when usually those plates themselves are used to serve giant mounds of fried rice in other Asian restaurants.
I really enjoyed the green chicken curry. Lots of vegetables, generous serving and an unexpected level of heat! I completely didn’t expect that much heat but I definitely appreciated it. The inclusion of salted duck egg was great too. I love salted duck eggs! It was more than enough curry for 2-3 people by the time you order rice. Note that plain jasmine rice is $3.50 per person. They give you a heaped bowl at a time.
I really wanted to like the crispy pork with pickled watermelon. The watermelon itself was sweet, acidic, cooling and crunchy but the pork was a bit of a let down. It was battered and presumably twice-cooked. The pork that I tried seemed to be quite dry and the batter didn’t add much texturally. Maybe if the pork had been tossed in a sauce or dressing so the batter absorbed some flavour, it would’ve been more impressive. Quite pricey for $25.90 as well, considering it’s about 50:50 watermelon and pork.
These desserts were the best dishes of the night. Subtle flavour that was able to stand out on it’s own without any extras. I really liked the deep fried bao ice cream sandwiches. The toasted sesame, pandan and ginger flavours were all very good. They weren’t overly sweet and I’m such a sucker for a cold and hot combination.
The creme brulee had a nice subtle lemongrass and kaffir lime flavour with the all important burnt sugar giving a satisfying crack.
We later sneaked into the secret bar which is hidden behind a freezer door towards the back (opposite the toilets). Here, the cocktail menu is slightly more classy. It’s a cool 20°C inside too! They feature their own hand-cut ice that maximises your whisky experience – less surface area of ice to neat whisky and thus it dilutes slower. There’s heaps of interesting Japanese whiskies and they even offer whisky flights. You can also enjoy your food inside here. It’d be great for a private function. Plus it’s SUPER COOL (pun intended…) to go inside a secret bar!
The hard thing about Kwan Brothers is that it takes influence from so many different Asian cuisines that it was just intense flavour all round. It was hard to pick favourite dishes as nothing particularly stood out. They all sort of had their own thing going on. This is a good thing, even if it’s a little confusing for the palette.
Open 7 days a week
Monday – Thursday: 12pm to 3pm, 5pm to 11pm
Friday – Sunday: 12pm to 11pm
Open late every day
Thursday – Sunday: 5pm to late
43 Alfred Street, Fortitude Valley
Nic and I dined as guests on behalf of Kwan Brothers and Lucid Media.