The Gaiwong Story
We love food. More specifically, we love Malaysian comfort food! Whether it’s after a long hard day, or catching up with friends and family over a weekend, food brings everyone together. We have many fond memories over food, and this is what inspired us to open up our first restaurant—to use food to bring families and friends together to create joy! We hope that our food evokes great memories of being back home (be it Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei) in the same way it does for us.
We want to share with you our simple, honest recipes that are familiar, nostalgic and reliable. We hope that our food takes care of you, and fills you up with sustenance and nutrition. That is why we have taken great care in choosing to source fresh, seasonal ingredients, and using quality chickens that are free-range, antibiotic free and have lived a life where they can play and feel sand and grass beneath their feet – all this to create happy, healthy and tasty chickens for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
Two years in the making, our first restaurant opened in April 2020 (Some may say that it was a challenging time to open during the pandemic. However, we believe that God’s timing is always perfect and that His plans are always for the good!).
Gai Wong is located in the heart of North Melbourne, adjacent to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Melbourne University. We are a family-run business comprised of husband and Head Chef Philip, wife and Front of House Shirley, and cousin Kel; the Social Media and Graphic Design guru. Be it Hainanese Chicken Rice, Kon Lo Mee with Char Siew, or Gai See Hor Fun, all our meals are dishes we have shared with our own families that reminds us of happy memories, no matter where we are in the world.
I love Hainanese Chicken Rice! It’s just one of those dishes that I have to seek out every time I go back home. I love the whole experience of having it – The flavour, the fragrant rice, the chilli, the garlic, the velvety skin… And finally, the cucumber that has been soaking and absorbing the yummy sauce right at the end. It’s the seamless balance of flavours for the perfect meal that I could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner – every single day… no joke!
Growing up, papa and mama worked really hard to provide for the family. Therefore, Sunday was the only day in the week, where we could all come together and enjoy breakfast as a whole unit. Papa would wake us up early in the morning and we would all go for a morning walk followed by breakfast at this Gai See Hor Fun restaurant in Taman Tun. This healthy and nutritious bowl of noodles represents comfort and family love to me – that feels like a huge hug from my parents, every time I miss home.
We used to pile up excitedly in the car (kai kai) to go and get kon lo mee for dinner from the local hawker center. The excitement of scoping out the different stalls, deciding which was ‘the best’ (they all were!) and sitting down to chomp on the char siew before slurping up the noodles off garish melamine plates is a fond memory I still have to this day. Especially served with a Kickapoo drink, or iced lemon juice that came in a plastic bag with a tie string.