A Bruce Lee Interior at this Asian Burger Joint

Words by Anthony Richardson

Colours can have a huge impact on our perception, including the space we occupy. With such limited space, ElvinTan was inspired by Bruce Lee to design a vibrant interior for a new Asian burger joint, Kung Fu Burger.


I love a good burger, but there’s more to a good burger than just good ingredients cooked well. If I’m going out for a burger I’m looking for an overall experience, and part of that is the space. Thankfully we’re blessed here in Melbourne with plenty of vibrant, quirky and personable burger joints. With that blessing comes a curse though, with so many burger joints, how do you stand out?

On Chapel Street in South Yarra sits Kung Fu Burger, a place which “specialise in the use of Asian ingredients combined with Chinese cooking technique, packaged in a burger to give you the unique Asian Burger.” When you walk through the doors you’re immediately met with colour and vibrancy. However there is a reason for the bold use of mustard yellow, and that has to do with the space. It’s quite limited, which was a challenge for the architect, Elvin Tan, “I think the biggest challenge for Kung Fu Burger is the space. Due to the size limitation, we have chosen the most impactful, bright and bold colour.” The colour, inspired by Bruce Lee’s jumpsuit, also helps to give the burger joint its own identity, which is critical when you’re looking to stand out. “Colour can alter our perception of a room's size and shape and that is exactly what we took advantage of.” Elvin says, and with the same colour used for the walls and ceilings your eyes don’t see the boundaries, but rather it appears all as one. More colour and texture is used to contrast against the mustard yellow, with red and the use of plywood and timber wall paneling.

A key feature of the space is the red shelving over the counter, with Elvin explaining “The intent was to have it overhang above the counter,” However there was an issue with this approach “because it is a rather old building, there is not enough structure to hold the weight.” With the opening day of the shop looming, they decided to add legs and fix it in a different way. This turned out quite well, “It was a little different from what we intended to have a floating shelving but it turn out well where it looks a like a red portal that frames the kitchen.”

With all that said, I know why you come to ArchitectureVictoria, and that’s to read about the food, not the actual architecture….. Elvin can vouch for how good the food is, “The burgers flavours are very innovative I have to say. I think one of my favourite is the Minister Burger. Burger and fried chicken with Yuzu Mayo!” When he told me just how good the food was, I had to go try it myself. Over the weekend I jumped on a tram to visit Kung Fu Burger, ordered the Minister Burger and popcorn chicken, and well, it was delicious. Much different to other chicken burgers, but that’s because others aren’t Asian inspired. While visiting it also gave me a chance to experience the space first hand, and the use of colour really helps the place stand out when walking down Chapel Street. Inside it doesn’t feel cramped or small, with the large glazed shop-front and colour helping your perception.

If you ever find yourself on Chapel Street in South Yarra, and you’re not vegetarian or vegan, do check out Kung Fu Burger.

Inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee’s jumpsuit, the interior plays with simple bold mustard yellow and details of black and red to give an Asian touch yet still appeals to the Melbourne funky restaurant scene.
— ElvinTan

Project Information

Project Name _ Kung Fu Burger
Architect _
ElvinTan | www.elvintan.com.au
Location _ South Yarra
Project Completed _ 2018
Photographer _
Peter Lambropoulos
Builder _ Southland Construction

The latest hospitality