At The Bar With Bansho Bistro’s Larry Xie

Co-owner and founder of Armadale’s art deco inspired bistro Bansho, Larry Xie brings his architecture background and culinary curiosity to the table – fusing his two favourite loves of Japanese and French gastronomy.

The former architecture student met his wife Mira Wu in Chicago as undergraduates, later relocating to Australia for their hospitality journey – the first stop Adelaide, and now Melbourne.

Chef Tomotaka Ishizuka leads the charge (ex- Ishizuka, Kisume, Koko) and Yoonho Chang (ex-Lume and Copenhagen’s Geranium) helps bring the vision to life on the plate.

Larry Xie talks to The Write Drop for our At The Bar series.

MY CITY

I grew up in Melbourne and moved to Chicago to study architecture at The School of Art Institute of Chicago – it’s where I met my wife Mira in architecture class. We live in Melbourne now; Mira and I both love the city as it has so much to offer for people looking for a natural connection between themselves and their surroundings. Arts, culture, entertainment, sports and of course, food and drinks mix so well in the most welcoming way.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

The first time I visited Blackbird in Chicago coincided with me sitting down wiith my friend Nori Moy and trying to understand Michelin dining standards. The atmosphere was refined but not too serious, the interior showed the owner’s cared about their venue, the drinks were well curated – and the food was simply amazing. It is now closed due to Covid, but the butter and bread remains in my heart forever. In Melbourne, I would say the choice is a toss between France Soir or Lady Dan Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine in Hawthorn.

FAVOURITE BAR

I do have very fond memories at Byrdi and Nick and Nora’s. Byrdi’s innovative take on fermentation surprised me, and I also like the classic cocktail approach with a twist at Nick and Nora’s. I always order a Negroni.

 DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Right now I would say I am in a Kir Royale phase. Bubbles, sweet, fun, pleasant acidity and bold at the same time.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Pho and Panadol absolutely.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Bar Peripheral in Adelaide. Dealer’s choice every time, you only need to tell him what you like and he supplies a nice little cup of chicken soup before you drink, which helps to protect your stomach. That’s what I call a nice touch to your fun night.

FAVOURITE WINE

2015 Domaine Jean Louis Chave L’Hermitage Rouge from Northern Rhone. We believe this is the best representation of syrah from one of the best wine producers in the world. Finesse, complexity and elegance exhibited through a combination of red fruits, spices, blackberries, and firm tannin. It was such an impressive showing that we immediately went back to the wine shop and grabbed the remaining bottles from the shelf. We like to drink champagne with family, and keep it classic with the bubbles and then move to a Chardonnay from local or international producers.

FAVOURITE WINERY -WHERE SHOULD WE VISIT THAT YOU REALLY LIKED

I absolutely love Granite Hills Winery in Macedon Ranges. Have you tried their Riesling? Small and intimate experience and the prices are exceptional for their back vintages – 2013 Riesling, 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, the exciting list goes on.

NEXT DESTINATION 

I would love to go back to Tokyo again to try more of their take on French cooking and their approach to hospitality in general. We want to try La Grande Maison Tokyo in particular.

What inspired you to open Bansho in Melbourne

Mira and I had the inspiration for Bansho while we were still running our restaurant in Adelaide. We had the idea to open a more premium dining venue in Adelaide CBD, but circumstances changed, and we moved back to Melbourne to continue our journey. We wanted to have a combination that puts our executive chef Tomotaka Ishizuka’s experience together with a little bit of French flair as French food is one of our favourite cuisines. We both loved the City of Stonnington and what it has to offer to everyone in Melbourne. We chose this location to start a neighbourhood bistro that offers a refined and relaxed dining experience for our customers. I want to particularly highlight Mira’s input on the restaurant because she spent countless hours perfecting the details for our interior design schemes. She took inspirations from the New York and Chicago restaurants we have been to and added her own experience working in architecture firms before to make sure the ambience is just right. Everyone will feel warm and welcomed so come experience what the combination of Japanese and French cuisines has to offer, with our carefully selected and auctioned drinks of course.

What’s the drink focus at Bansho

We carefully selected wines and spirits from Victoria and France only and sakes from Japan. Our sommelier wants to highlight the excellent wine choices we have within Victoria with a classic line-up of French selections to complement our flavours. We also auction wines for our shop as we believe sometimes you can strike gold with rare vintages and producers. Overall the philosophy is keeping it boutique and reasonable, so our patrons do not need to feel intimidated at all.

We mainly focus on the lighter side of beverages to pair with our dishes as we try to put emphasis on the combination of savoury French sauces and subtle seasonal Japanese ingredients. We do offer bold flavours such as unfiltered Sakes, Shiraz and Grenache other than Victorian and French Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chablis, Champagne and more.

Address: Shop 1, 960 High Street, Armadale, VIC, 3143

www.banshodining.com/

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