Tasked with morphing the stylish, sedate fine-dining Flying Fish restaurant into the fun Japanese-Chinese mash-up Chuuka, who you going to call?
Well, Sokyo chef Chase Kojima, a co-collaborator on the venture, reached out to tattoo artist Deepak Munsami?.
Kojima doesn't have any tattoos of his own, but confesses to coveting the art. "I only have cooking scars, but I like that punk style," he says.
So Munsami's art has made it on the walls instead. "We didn't want to touch the room too much, we just changed the tables and plates. Victor [Liong] and I are different, so Victor's the dragon [in the artwork] and I'm the koi. Or maybe it's the other way around," Kojima says.
The menu is a collaborative work between the two co-head chefs.
Chuuka gets its name from the dishes Chinese immigrants introduced to Japan, with Kojima and Liong bridging those cultures.
They'd come up with ideas and throw it to each other to each other to change things up.
"Victor turned up with a big bag of these oils he makes. I remember he threw it all over a dish and he changed it. It became Chinese," Kojima says.
The opening menu sounds both delicious and high-wire. Hiramasa kingfish resides with white soy cream, Sichuan chilli oil edges in with bang bang chicken.
There's Peking duck, wagyu short rib with carrot kimchi and blue swimmer crab and scallop fried rice with Japanese XO.
Liong, a graduate of Sydney's Marque restaurant before focusing on Chinese cuisine, has made a name for himself at Lee Ho Fook in Melbourne in recent years.
"I want to work with this guy," Kojima says of what prompted the collaboration.
So, does Liong have a tattoo? "I don't know," Kojima says.
Open from July 3:?Tue-Sat lunch & dinner; Sun lunch.
Pier 21, Lower Deck, Jones Bay Wharf, 19-21 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont,?02 9657 9882,?chuuka.com.au.