A Flavour Explosion with Chef Mike Meesuwan

Image source: Photographer Megan Gill

Buderim’s newest resident in the Sunshine Coast’s ever-expanding slick and off-the-wall restaurant scene, Dee Den, has had tongues wagging since it opened in April. 

Known for its quirky twist on popular Asian dishes, this place has not disappointed since its inception. Penny Brand sits down with Head Chef Mike Meesuwan to learn a bit more about why his hot new eatery is the talk of the town. 

Name
Mike Meesuwan

Age
34

Position
Head Chef

Restaurant
Dee Den, Buderim 

What are some of your career highlights?

I’ve worked with some amazing people during my many years at PawPaw from the Venzin Group, where I got to learn a lot of what it takes to run a good kitchen.

Why do you love being a chef?

The same reason we started Dee Den – the unhinged, reckless creativity.

Why do you love the Sunshine Coast? 

It’s a peaceful and laidback area that my partner and I really love. Having lived in Brisbane near the CBD for quite a number of years, moving to the Sunny Coast has been a very welcome change.

What brought you to Buderim? 

We stumbled upon Buderim quite serendipitously as the owners of the previous restaurant were mutual friends of ours and they were looking to leave the hospo game when they had their first kid. We realised that there weren’t too many options for a nice sit-down restaurant within Buderim, with table service, where you can enjoy a special meal with beautiful drinks.

So, we saw the opportunity to offer exactly that, and dare I say “something different”, here in Buderim as well as adding to the mix of venues in the broader Sunshine Coast dining scene. 

What are your favourite dishes? 

Currently it’s a two-way tie of the Betel Leaf and the Black Angus Rib Fillet, just because of the amount of ingredients and flavours that goes into each of the dishes. 

Think a flavour explosion in your mouth!

Describe the summer menu? 

We try to be as seasonal as possible with our fresh goods, but the two key things are a focus on refreshing flavours and more seafood options, like our Coffin Bay Oysters with Asian Sauvignon Blanc Vinaigrette.

Most popular dishes on the menu? 

The Betel Leaf, Popcorn Chicken, and Beef Cheek Massaman have consistently been our top three most popular items. 

You’ll never go wrong with one or all of these.

What is your approach to food?

I try to utilise native ingredients where I can, despite being a modern Asian restaurant, which is why you might see Finger Limes, Old Man Saltbush, Pepperberry and Quandong on our menu. 

As a business, we also love to work with reputable local suppliers. 

This is why when Fable in Palmwoods reached out to us, we were stoked to explore flavours that could work with their fabled mushroom meat.

What sets Dee Den apart from others? 

We put a lot of effort into genuinely listening to feedback from our staff and our guests, and have actually been implementing continuous changes to improve our food and service. 

And this ranges from minor recipe tweaks to how we seat out guests.

And of course, you can never beat fresh ingredients, which we pay a huge amount of attention to. 

Fun fact: did you know that our Kingfish and Oysters are never more than two days old? 

And you can really taste the difference.

Highlights off your latest menu?

CRISPY CHICKEN BAO! 

Juicy chicken pieces, Kewpie slaw, flavourful sambal and Asian chimichurri – we sold almost 400 of these bad boys in just the first two weeks of our new menu launch. 

Most rewarding career moment?

When I got to finally open my own venue here!

Do you cook at home? 

Like many chefs – not at all.

How do you find inspiration to be “something different” in your cooking and cocktails? 

A lot of trial and error, plus it never hurts to read culinary books and see what’s out there online.

What is your favourite kitchen tool?

One hundred per cent: a Sous Vide machine. For those not aware of it, Sous Vide is a cooking technique where you cook food in a low, controlled temperature for a long time to achieve a super tender result. 

We basically marinate and sous vide most of our meats, which is why even our humble Chicken Pad Thai has really tender and flavourful chicken!

What is your favourite ingredient?

Kaffir lime leaves! They have such a gentle yet distinct taste and aroma that compliments a lot of other flavours. 

You’ll be able to spot super thin Kaffir lime threads sprinkled on top of a few of our dishes. 

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