waitan interiors 7


(02) 8218 1000
405 Sussex St, Haymarket NSW

Waitan is sumptuous. In the heart of Chinatown, surrounded by food courts, noodle bars and novelty stores, Asian hospitality groups Xiang Er Qing from China and Tung Lok from Singapore have spent over $10m on a restaurant fitout that is truly eye-popping.

With three different bars (all with brand-new Hoshizaki ice machines for cocktail-making), private dining areas and a unique opium-den-style lounge (more on that later), Waitan has the interiors to match its opulent menu (designed by chef John Rankin) that features Peking duck slow-cooked for days, with buckets of champagne to wash it down while you consider buying a $10,000 membership.

Interior designer Thuan Teh has worked on hotels The Kirketon, The Diamante and restaurant Chef’s Gallery. He says that Waitan tells a story through its spaces: “a vivid outpost of traditional and modern China”.

“China’s street scenery is brought to life by the bird cages, bamboo light fittings and red lanterns hanging from the ceilings,” says Teh. “Motifs surrounding the restaurant pick up the traditional elements used in various Chinese architecture. They are blended into a playful mix, of a new, confident China.”

Inside, Waitan is full of dark wood, shiny surfaces and mysterious low lighting. It’s a huge space, divided into miniature enclaves for groups who can enjoy watching the chefs in the open kitchen. Moving upstairs, a collection of private dining rooms provide intimate settings for special and VIP occasions and guests. The whole look and feel of the place has been characterised as channelling 1930s Shanghai, but Teh says that it wasn’t just Shanghai that provided his inspiration.

“The look is inspired by the rich traditions and history of Chinese dining, which encapsulates the culture of the food and the art of drinking,” he says. “Overall, elements of history and culture are mixed into the overall look of the restaurant, from the rough-sawn timber to stone pieces and the sculptures.”

A standout feature is the ‘O-lounge’, so-named presumably for the cues that it takes from the self-indulgent vice of smoking opium on luxurious couches, and enjoying the passing of time. Guests can lounge on low, opulently-decorated lounges partially concealed by sheer curtains — but Waitan has swapped pipe dreams for the fanciest of cocktails.

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