It starts with ‘is that a lot for two people?’
By the end, the answer was all too obvious.
Walking through the downstairs bar, you can tell you are in for a uber-cool ride. Heading up-stairs to the large, mess hall style dining area, its difficult to tell just what you are in for. I never visited the original, more street style Lee Ho Fook, but comes with good reputation. It is often a gamble, these establishments that make their reputation on the streets, serving honest and authentic cuisine. The danger being when they move to the cbd, they forget their roots – what made them so special to begin with.
It’s the culinary version of liking their old stuff better than their new stuff. But Lee Ho Fook jazz up the classic dishes to beautifully artistic plates, but load up on the flavour and complexity. It’s another level.
Its an undeniable fact that all good meals start with oysters, and these pacific oysters came with an added kick of wasabi, piquing my taste buds for what was to follow.
Chongqing style chicken crackling was hot, with extra chilli and loaded with spice. Completely antithetical to the oysters, the ying to the oysters yang.
Crispy eggplant was rich. Sweet and rich. Coated in sticky red vinegar, the eggplant was lost in the candied coating, and the serving was too large, but still too difficult to resist.
The raw hiramasa kingfish with leeks was mistimed, arriving after the eggplant, indicative of the very friendly, but somewhat casual service. Delicate and fresh, it would have been better had it come immediately after the oysters. Unfortunately our taste buds had been beaten up by the egg plant and the sashimi didn’t stand a chance.
The wagyu beef sang choi bau was the best looking dish of the night. Served with beef strips and crispy carrots, a brilliant re-imagining of the classic street dish.
Finally, and most significantly, the seafood rice, which was not a side as we expected but a bowl of soupy, congee style stew. Sweet, and salty, but ultimately too rich heavy and large for the distance we had travelled. It would have been a perfect dish for a group of ten. Unfortunately the two of us barely made a dent in it. Flattered they thought our appetite was up to the challenge.
Lee Ho Fook, has their eyes on the future but their feet are firmly planted in their heritage. This is one example where a move of streets has been a move for the better. Just take some friends.
11-15 Duckboard Place Melbourne 3000
03 9077 6261