This end of Melbourne’s CBD has been a lunch wasteland for office workers - but that’s set to change



500 Bourke St


Lee Ho Fook chef Victor Liong is opening a second restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD. The casual eatery, nestled on the terrace of a Bourke Street office tower undergoing a $150-million revamp, will be a boon for city workers.

The building, 500 Bourke, currently counts MoVida Aqui and Rosa’s Canteen among its hospitality tenants. Liong’s Silk Spoon will join them early next year, moving into a 40-square-metre space previously used by MoVida Terrazzo and Paco’s Tacos.

With a menu inspired by the Silk Road trading routes snaking from China to Europe, Liong’s new restaurant will operate from morning to early evening, serving a vast array of vegetable dishes at lunch, with simply cooked proteins an optional side order. Drink-friendly evening menus will hew closer to the Chinese cooking Liong is best known for. Takeaway will also be offered.

Liong says he chose to focus on the Silk Road’s cross-section of cultures because of the freedom it affords. He plans to celebrate everything from North African spices to Japanese influences in vegetable-forward dishes. Colour and texture will be paramount.

Spanish restaurant MoVida Aqui, now 13 years old, has closed for a facelift of its own, and will reopen with a new look in August.

Located in the heart of Melbourne’s legal district, the 34-storey tower at 500 Bourke Street was built more than 40 years ago and became an early flashpoint in Melbourne’s sandwich ascendancy, thanks to the original Earl Canteen and its pork belly roll.

Since then, the tower’s stocks have fallen somewhat, particularly in the past three years. The redevelopment by architects Fender Katsalidis is under way, and they are working within the existing shell.

Building owner ISPT says it hopes the works, particularly to the piazza, will capitalise on people’s new work patterns, where socialising is part of a trip to the office a couple of times a week. More restaurants and dining options will be added.

Liong says he loves the location of the building, with its view of the Supreme Court dome and the venue’s melding of indoor and outdoor spaces. He is also excited to explore the idea of a quick-service restaurant in a post-pandemic CBD.

Silk Spoon is expected to open in February or March 2024, around the time when office tower tenants will return.

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