Anthony & Jason Lui
Owner and General Manager of the Flower Drum Restaurant
“History aside we built a pretty strong and loyal customer base with our food and service. We pride ourselves in using the best ingredients and providing premium customer service. We like to look after our guests and make sure they enjoy our food every time they come in.”
Third generation restaurateur Jason Lui, with deep roots in traditional Cantonese cuisine, is the man at the helm of Melbourne’s elegant Flower Drum, a multi-award winning restaurant lined with exquisite Chinese art and plush carpets. However, aesthetics are not their only asset.
While his father, head chef Anthony Lui is the secret weapon of Flower Drum, the father and son team is formidable, carving a name for themselves, not only as one of the best Chinese restaurants but one of the best restaurants in Melbourne.
Originally set up by Gilbert Lau in 1975 along Little Bourke Street, Flower Drum moved to its current location at Market Lane in 1985. The culinary awards never stopped pouring in and the famed restaurant is usually booked months ahead.
Born in Hong Kong, Jason Lui left his hometown when he was only three. “I don’t remember much about Hong Kong. I’ve lived in Melbourne most of my life. Growing up in Bulleen I went to the usual Australian and Catholic schools, and eventually the university, to do a double degree in marketing and finance.”
The more acclaimed Anthony Lui became, the less Jason saw of his father. “I was living with a chef father who was very busy all the time. Mum passed away when I was quite young. My brother and I looked after each other, split the house chores between us, and did homework by ourselves. My father did the best he could and more, so I count myself very fortunate to be in this family,” he shares.
Anthony Lui took over Flower Drum in 2000. It was only natural that junior joined the ranks. “Back then Gilbert Lau was still around and was a very strong industry legend. I was lucky to be able to learn from him and my father. I started doing everything – busboy, front of house, kitchen hand, got my hands dirty so to speak.”
The double degree came in handy as well. “Everyday life here involves marketing and finance. It’s a good fit I suppose.”
In a successful restaurant, pressure is always part of the menu. Working with one’s father can double that tension but Jason sees the bright side.
There are, of course, generational differences. “My dad is always a steady hand about consistency, keeping things the same as much as possible. For me, change excites me, new things excite me. Sometimes it is difficult to find a balance.”
“It’s amazing getting to know him and the depth of his knowledge and skill. His work ethics are second to none, something I aspire to. The best part is to be able to see a lot more of him.”
The Flower Drum signature is emblazoned across this gastronomic haven. Jason recommend, “The iconic and traditional Peking duck wrapped in handmade pancakes and baked crab shells in creamy turmeric sauce. Noodles made from wild barramundi is another popular demand. Our guests love my father’s cooking style, which is quite delicate and clean.”
Hard work is paramount in the restaurant business. Jason Lui’s personal advice to newbies, “Work hard and don’t deviate too much from your original cuisine”. Not so different for his father’s words of wisdom, “Work and work hard. Do it and do it well.”
万寿宫原本是由刘华铿 (Gilbert Lau) 于1975年沿着Little Bourke Street创立，并于1985年搬迁至目前Market Lane的位置，所荣获的各种厨艺烹饪奖项更是从来没停过，这家餐馆的预订必须几个月前进行。
by Billie Ooi-Ng Lean Gaik