After falling off the Sydney dining radar, things are looking up for the faded Botanic Gardens Restaurant. With a top-to-bottom renovation under way, Good Food can reveal Red Lantern owner-chef and TV food presenter Luke Nguyen is taking control of the kitchen in the upcoming reinvention of the prized location. We tracked Nguyen down in Singapore where he’s scoping the restaurant scene for inspiration. “The menu will be modern Asian, not straight Vietnamese. Given I was born in Thailand and discovered my Chinese grandfather on TV show Who Do You Think You Are, there’s plenty of inspiration,” the Vietnamese-Australian chef says. “The opening menu will have fish with lemon myrtle infused coconut milk and there’ll be wok-fried warrigal greens. I really want to trawl the Botanic Gardens for inspiration; unfortunately I can’t forage there,” he says. It isn’t the only change for the venue, which will be renamed Botanic House after Trippas White landed the new tender for the site. Nguyen has signed on as Ambassador Chef, but says he’s clogs in on the project, with long-standing Red Lantern on Riley head chef Pakphom “Em” Meechai moving across to Botanic House, which opens next month. The talented Nguyen has a new series out later this year on SBS-TV, a rail-food show travelling on Vietnam’s Reunification Express. He’s also quietly building a restaurant empire, including Vietnam House, a restaurant in an old French Colonial building in Ho Chi Minh City.