One of the most eagerly anticipated restaurant openings in Melbourne recently has to be Lee Ho Fook on Smith Street. Le Ho Fook is hot, hot, hot because it’s brought to you by the Movida and Pei Modern team and headed by chef Victor Liong from the ridiculously popular Mr Wong in Sydney.
Like Mr Wong, Lee Ho Fook offers a modern take on Chinese cuisine. Forget the refined Cantonese food of Flower Drum and Silks or the cheap and cheerful Chinatown dumpling houses. Lee Ho Fook is all about casual, fun and tasty Chinese. I went there with Meat-and-Three-Veg on Saturday night and the scene was set with the restaurant’s dramatically painted walls which fade from black to white and low hanging globes dangling from the ceiling via a spider web of thick cords.
To kick things off there are Bia Ha Noi beers ($5) which our waiter encourages us to drink out of the can “Vietnamese style”. These go perfectly with Lee Ho Fook’s pork buns. Unlike the juicy Momofuku pork rolls these pork rolls ($6 each) are candied so the meat is sweet and crisp inside a soft milk bun. Very different but just as sublime.
I was also impressed by a salad of heirloom tomatoes ($14) which teamed the tomatoes with two types of tofu, one so creamy it was almost like mozzarella and one deep fried until it was crispy. Mains vary from delicate dishes like fragrant steamed barramundi ($28) spiked with ginger to san choi bau ($28) made with wagyu beef and serious chilli heat.
Dessert is not a strong point in most Chinese restaurants but it’s a must order at Lee Ho Fook with dishes like the “white chocolate, raspberry and rose” ($12) an intricate combination of rich white chocolate ice-cream, tart raspberry sorbet and tiny meringues sprinkled with dehydrated rose petals. It was refreshing and delicious.
The drinks list is short and sweet with only a handful of reds, whites and cocktails but it makes for an interesting read with helpful descriptions of each option. A highlight was the ruby coloured rosé which was rich and savoury.
Believe the hype around Lee Ho Fook. It’s fun, offers value for money and the food is damn delicious.
Details: Lee Ho Fook: 92 Smith Street, Collingwood (Ph 03 9077 6261). Bookings taken (yay) but tables also reserved for walk ins.
Damage: Reasonable. Our bill for two came to $110.