Interview by Fatema Sitabkhan
Photos by Fatema Sitabkhan
Nestled in the heart of the Adelaide CBD lies a gem that serves Asian cuisine with a modern spin to it – Level One. With its walls decorated in colors that may as well represent themes of strawberries and cream and minimalist lighting that adds just the right level of intimacy and intricacy to its atmosphere, the restaurant has ample space that allows individuals to enjoy a catch up with work colleagues, friends, or family, in addition to providing just the right ambience for a romantic date.
With a carefully selected team of individuals in the restaurant and culinary businesses, Level One’s family brings together the skills of:
- Chad Hanson (General Manager)
Ex Sean’s Kitchen, Eden Restaurant & Vodka Bar
- Jamie Kang (Executive Chef)
Ex Sake (Melbourne)
- Kate Rowlands (Restaurant Manager)
Ex Selfridges & Co (London), Cote Restaurants (UK)
Having not visited Level One prior to this experience, I was lucky enough to score an e-interview with restaurant manager Kate Rowlands, where I learned more about the story of what Level One is all about. Have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: I’ve always wondered what the difference is between Electra House and Level One – can you go into that a bit further?
Kate: Level One is the Modern Asian award-winning shared plates restaurant within Electra House Hotel. It offers more of a dining experience to our guests, whereas our Ground Floor offers a more casual food offering – burgers, platters and salads.
Tema: Can you tell me a bit more about your head chef – Jamie Kang – and how he finds the inspiration to create the new menus; particularly with contemporary Asian elements?
Kate: Jamie really looks to his childhood and South Korean heritage for inspiration. Many of the dishes on the menu contain some element or flavour that comes from a family memory, and he likes to combine those with the best local produce he can find. For example, you’ll find his mother-in-laws white kimchi served with our South Australian kingfish sashimi. One of our most popular dishes in the Korean baby squid pancake, which is a traditional comfort food that his mother used to cook for him in the winter when he was a child. If you were going to describe the type of cuisine that Level One offers, it would be this – dishes that have been designed to be shared amongst friends. The menu features bold, modern Korean flavors, with heavy influences from Japanese cuisine, cooked with the best Australian produce that we can get our hands on.
Tema: What has been one of the most popular dishes that has your customers returning to you?
Kate: Our Salmon Aburi is an absolute guest favorite and has been on the menu since day one! The combination of the fresh Tasmanian salmon, the crispy sushi rice and the sticky den-miso glaze is a winner every time.
Tema: What is one dish that you would highly recommend to new customers?
Kate: Hands down the free-range rack and belly of BBQ pork. We slowly cook the meat overnight every night on a low heat for at least twelve hours, so it’s super tender and juicy. It’s drenched in a spicy Korean BBQ sauce while it cooks, and we keep these cooking juices and sauce aside. When you order the dish, we baste the meat in this liquid and then char it on the grill, before covering it in more of this incredibly flavourful sauce and sending it out for you to devour. Delicious.
Tema: Let’s talk about the stock at the bar – there are lots of local, South Australian pearls, which is always an exciting bonus to see at a bar/restaurant here in Adelaide. What’s your philosophy around stocking local?
Kate: We are so lucky to live and work in a state that has not only incredible produce but also incredibly passionate producers as well. Some of the best wine in the world is made right here in South Australia, and we are really passionate about supporting that. When we look for new wines to go on the list it’s all about supporting smaller-scale local producers who are doing something interesting – growing unusual varietals, making wine in really small batches or making wine in a slightly different way. It has to taste great, but the story behind that bottle you’re sharing with your friends has to be interesting as well. We are also massive supporters of local spirits, and are really proud to work with and serve some incredible local products to our guests. It always amazes me when I go interstate and visit Sydney and Melbourne – they have incredible restaurants and bars there, but the wine lists are so often import heavy and feature very little Australian wine. It’s such a shame when there is so much incredible produce in our own backyard, and we really try to champion that in the restaurant.
Tema: What do you expect people to experience by visiting your space?
Kate: We want them to taste flavors or try new ingredients that they might not have tried before in other restaurants in Adelaide. We want them to feel comfortable and to let us take care of them while they are here. We want them to have fun, and to walk away feeling like they can’t wait to come back. We offer a daily changing shared ‘Omakase’ menu as well. This is our way of feeding you, and always represents the best of the seafood that we have delivered fresh every morning and some of our favorite current dishes on the menu as well.
Tema: Why do you think people should support local businesses like yourself?
Kate: We support other local businesses as well, and we are constantly seeking out new and exciting local products to offer to our guests. The coffee we serve in Level One is a collaboration with the guys at Adelaide Coffee Culture, and is a medium-roast bean that they roast just for us. We served another of their beans on the ground floor in Electra, which is the dark-roast bean that we use for our Espresso Martinis. When we opened Level One, we felt like the bean was too strong and didn’t quite fit with the food we were serving. The roasters at ACC were fantastic and really understood what we were trying to achieve at the end of the meal for our guests.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like us to know about your business?
Kate: We are the home of My Gin, My Gin – a gin exclusively available in Electra House Hotel. We worked with the fabulous team at Settler’s distillery in McLaren Vale to come up with a drink that really complimented the flavors in the restaurant. It’s distilled with native ingredients such as saltbush, finger lime and lemon myrtle and served with dehydrated pineapple and Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic water. It’s definitely worth trying as a perfect aperitif to get your taste buds going!
A special thanks to the team at Level One for their hospitality and to BPPR for the interview opportunity + dining experience!
131 King William St, Adelaide SA 5000
Tues to Sat (dinner): 5pm until late
Fri (lunch): 12pm – 3pm
Sun / Mon: CLOSED
Space is also available for private event hire 7x days a week