Melbourne VIC

Chow City is a modern interpretation of the traditional Asian street food experience, which harnesses the vibrant ambiance of its urban context by bringing the street inside.

The venue is located on the ground floor of an original residential building in Exhibition Street. The restaurant offers a fresh take on hawker food, and the design concept consequently features a subtle play on the “back street” dining experiences common throughout Asia.

Chow City operates as a split tenancy, with a separate dining room and bar. The street entrance leads into the bar, where an exposed concrete ceiling and visible copper services pay homage to the origins of the building and create a raw, industrial ambience. The use of copper continues throughout the space, from the copper piping which forms the shelving behind the bar, to the large copper door handle which greets patrons on entry.

Warm leather fittings, dark timbers and ply panelling work to soften the space, which is gently lit by exposed filament lighting hanging from a robust ceiling installation.

The dining room sits on the opposite side of a small alcove, in a space that was originally disconnected from the bar area. In order to connect the two areas, small “cobblestone” floor tiles were used to create a laneway which leads patrons from once space to the other.

Timber flooring delineates the beginning of the dining room, which sits under a ceiling of undulating ply discs of various colours. This splash of colour differentiates the dining room from the bar, with large windows framing colourful street art and drawing it inside the space.

The inexpensive nature of street food led to a design ethos that aimed to mix contemporary finishes with reclaimed materials. Reclaimed timber flooring and recycled copper piping met the design’s sustainability objectives, whilst supporting the design intent.

Project Timeline


Town Planning
Architectural Services
Interior Design
Contract Administration


Gold Winner of 2015 Melbourne Design Awards – Interior Design

Area and Staff

Venue Size M²


No. Staff


Seating Breakdown

Indoor Seats: 70
Outdoor Seats: 18

Construction Cost