11-15 Duckboard Place
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9077 6261
After reading some lovely comments left on my previous post, I knew that I had to keep going with my blog – thank you so much for the vote of confidence! I definitely feel much more motivated to continue plugging along and to see what happens next.
Given that I’ve lived in four different cities in the space of three years, it was hard to figure out what sort of posts I should publish on this blog. For the first few years, I focused on Melbourne. Then when I started going interstate a lot, I threw in some Queensland and Sydney reviews in the mix. Every now and then, I’d also add a recipe blog. I didn’t know why – hell, I certainly never set out to be a recipe blogger… yet, these posts received quite a high number of hits. /shrugs
In 2014, I started to get into the whole travelling thing despite spending so many years trying to convince myself that I wasn’t much of a traveller. Who was I kidding, I LOVED travelling – especially if I was alone. Subsequently, write-ups of sushi restaurants in Tokyo would appear on my blog alongside reviews of Jakarta restaurants I frequented with relatives. Some of them would receive heaps of traffic while others not so much. Eventually, my blog would become a litter pile of random places I frequented without any real unifying theme. Then again, I guess a blog is where home is and in the last four years, I haven’t really established where ‘home’ is – Berlin? Singapore? Melbourne? Gold Coast?
Randomness is great but I knew I needed to establish more of a structure, especially if I was going to ensure this blogging thing was going to still work. Thus, my blog would be confined to these boundaries:
1) Reviews of places I visited in Australia, with a focus on Melbourne, Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sydney as these four cities were the ones I frequented the most.
2) One recipe per month.
‘What about overseas write-ups, Libby?’ you ask. (or maybe you didn’t because you don’t care)
They’ll go in my travel blog, the one I started up last year but haven’t really gotten around to working on. I’ll be working on that blog alongside this food blog. Two blogs, one girl. Yep, that’s the plan – let’s see how it goes.
Anyway, that was a huge arse introduction – and it had absolutely nothing with the review I’m about to write on Lee Ho Fook, possibly one of my favourite non-cheapie Asian restaurants in Melbourne CBD at the moment. For those in the know, it’s Victor Liong’s modern Asian restaurant… but it’s not modern Asian in the eye-rolling ‘oooh Asian tapas!’ and ‘ooooh put chilli jam on everything!’ sense. In fact, we’re talking dishes that push imaginative boundaries but also taste super delicious without being too wanky. I’ve been here about three times now and I have no intentions of not returning.
The first time I came here, I dragged fellow foodie friend Dave along and ordered a bunch of dishes to share. We also had a couple of glasses of wine, though they weren’t exactly cheap (we’re looking at $14 a glass on average, here).
I’ve been a huge fan of Lee Ho Fook’s tea eggs, though they are not always on the menu. Topped with avruga and dill, they’re an excellent starter during the warmer months though one of these wouldn’t go astray on top of a winter bowl of ramen…
Being Chinese means that I would have no doubt enjoyed pork belly in many different incarnations – but never like this. The belly is rolled, cured and cut into cold thin slices and served with pickled fennel, hot mustard and chilli oil. Definitely my kind of charcuterie board!
As a nod to the whole Marco Polo/noodle and pasta thing, Liong added a Chinese pizza on the menu. Or ‘Chinizza’, as you like it. It was almost like a Chinese spring onion pancake had a child with a Napoli-style pizza before regurgitating lots of chopped spring onions and pillowy mozzarella. I liked it and as much as I’m all for interracial unions, I think I prefer an Italian pizza and a Chinese spring onion pancake on their own. The combination of fresh spring onions and mozzarella was just too odd for me.
I never used to go crazy over eggplant but when it’s done well, I’d be more than happy to eat my share as well as other peoples’ share – and Lee Ho Fook’s crispy eggplant dish just happens to be one of those awesome eggplant dishes. Think crispy skin plus soft eggplant flesh plus a delightfully sticky red vinegar sauce with just the right amount of kick and you have yourself a winning dish.
The first time I dined at Lee Ho Fook, the Fujian-style blue swimmer crab and scallop fried rice was a dish on the specials menu, priced at $28. Now, it’s $42. Yep, this is a fried rice dish that ain’t cheap but it’s certainly next level gangster. In fact, I dare say it’s up there on my favourite fried rice dishes list in Melbourne along with Rose Garden’s duck and mustard green fried rice dish – yes, the latter is about a quarter of the price of Lee Ho Fook’s fried rice but you can’t compare shredded roast duck with blue swimmer crab, scallop AND XO sauce, ok! What’s really interesting about this dish is that the rice sits in a tasty translucent gravy made from a chicken stock and tapioca starch base, making the whole thing almost congee-like. This dish is one that I always order every time I come here, no matter what. It’s THAT good. If you only order one dish at Lee Ho Fook, definitely get this one – and maybe the eggplant. You don’t want to be the pair in the corner table sharing one plate of fried rice.
Melbourne’s Chinatown may be full of cheap and cheerful Asian eateries as well as two handfuls of wonderful high-end ones, but there’s nothing like Lee Ho Fook. Go here for modern Asian food that’s not only unique but also tasty at the same time – and don’t leave without trying the fried rice.