Cho Cho San’s: Nic Wong
Words Mathew Lennon
Nicholas Wong has been part of Sydney’s ever-evolving restaurant landscape for over 10 years. After stints at some of the cities most talked about eateries including Ester, The Apollo and Rockpool, Nic is now serving up a modern take on Japanese Izakaya style food at Cho Cho San in Potts Point. In this interview with the softly spoken chef, we chatted to Nic about his culinary beginnings, free diving and personal style.
What first made you want to pursue a career as a chef?
When I was young, I would try and make my mother breakfast in bed. When I look back on it now, I wonder how she ate such a terrible meal. But every time her face lit up as soon as I approached her with this concoction of food. Seeing the joy that food gives people has been ingrained in my mind.
What / where was your first job in a kitchen?
KFC, and I still splurge on it every now and then.
What do you love most about cooking for people?
Food brings people together.
Cho Cho San offers a unique take on a classic Japanese Izakaya, how have you developed the menu to reflect this?
CCS is our interpretation towards the Japanese Izakaya. For the menu, the classical dishes have definitely inspired me however we have adapted them to better suit the Australian palate, drawing a little inspiration from Europe and the rest of Asia.
Can you tell us about any traditional Japanese methods that you use at Cho Cho San that still work in harmony with the restaurants modern perspective on Japanese food?
One of the most primitive ways of cooking is over fire, in particular over coals on a Habachi (japanese grill) . I love the flavour charcoal gives.
Where is your favourite place to eat on your days off? What do you order from the menu?
I love Margherita pizza, I live above Lucio’s in Darlinghurst so it’s really easy!! Or 10 William St do an amazing pizza fritta, plus Dan Pepperell(chef) is awesome.
Where do you go to relax in your down time, and what do you like to do there? (e.g. a weekend down the coast, or in the country).
I go free diving. I have a few friends that like to spearfish and dive for urchin, crayfish and abalone. So when I get chance I like to head out. Even if I don’t catch anything, I really enjoy being under the water.
Where is your favourite holiday destination overseas? (and why?)
All my holidays revolve around food! Tokyo and Hong Kong are definitely my two favourite, the food of these 2 cities is amazing!
Finally, what’s one piece in your wardrobe you can’t get enough off? How would you describe your personal style?
My prized piece would be a long black trench coat, by Alexander McQueen. I bought it at the Barneys sale in New York about 5 years ago. I never get a chance to wear it! I like black and white, I guess it kind of describes my personality; YES/NO-HOT/COLD! I never sit on the fence.
Cho Cho San
73 Macleay St Potts Point | www.chochosan.com.au