Lee Ho Fook
92 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC 3066
03 9077 6261
I first heard of this place during a reverse dinner with my blogmily at Luxbite (and Dainty Sichuan), Bern at Luxbite said it’s pretty awesome food. Instinct and cravings took over, and it didn’t take long before dinner was organised. I visited Lee Ho Fook with Fakegf, The Angmoh, Fatbee and Carolyn.
The name “Lee Ho Fook” sounded like one of those rather traditional Chinese restaurants, but on arrival, it became evident that this place is on the more upbeat and modern side… true to the character of so many Smith St eateries. While we noticed that the front of house staff were mostly non-Asians, the ones running the show in the kitchen were. Yaaay!
Fatbee even found one of the chefs very cute. Harrumph… so shallow… but then again, I am too. :D
MILK BUN, BRAISED PORK BELLY AND CUCUMBER $6
The succinct share menu is quite Chinese but with a modern twist. Most of the items looked very appealing and choosing what we wanted posed quite a challenge. Fatbee and I started with a serve of these mini pork belly sliders, which tasted quite unusual because of the use of a tangy chilli sauce similar to what you get with Hainanese chicken rice in Singapore. And we thought the pork belly was a touch salty.
CHARGRILLED WAGYU, GREEN CHILI, WATERCRESS AND PANCAKES $19
The rest of the dishes from here on were shared amongst us. We enjoyed this peking duck-inspired dish… the wagyu beef was superbly succulent and the pancake skin was great.
CRISPY EGGPLANT, SPICED RED VINEGAR $14
This dish was also very good, with a beautiful caramelised crisp… balanced with a teasing push of Chinese vinegar and Sichuan peppers. It’s a more nuanced version of Sichuan-style ‘fish fragrant’ eggplants.
SALTWATER DUCK, RED SALAD $18
Next-up was the dish of the night for me. Reading it on the menu, we couldn’t predict how it was going to turn out like, but it came as a cold dish of blushingly pink and tender (sous vide?) duck slices in a cleansing sauce with fragrant hints of Chinese tea. If it’s still on the menu, this is a must-have dish.
HOUSE MADE TOFU, HOT AND SOUR SAUCE $22
On the vegetarian side of things, we got a serve of silken tofu with mushrooms in a hot and sour sauce. It provided us with good gravy that we could pour over our rice.
YUNAN STYLE LAMB SHOULDER, HOISIN MUSTARD, SPICY PICKLES, COS LETTUCE (FOR TWO OR MORE) $52
Our final dish was this fall apart soft serve of slow roasted lamb shoulder marinated with cumin and its sister spices. The flavour profile leans towards the Western parts of China near the provinces of Yunnan and Xinjiang (ie. near the Middle East).
It came with chilli onion jam, hoisin mustard sauce and crudités. We sort of didn’t know how to eat this dish… as a san choi bao-like wrap perhaps? But it was pretty good, the lamb was insanely tender.
VIOLET AND LYCHEE SORBET, SPARKLING ROSE $5
I liked how the desserts here were nicely priced and in small single serve portions. Some of us had this light and summery sorbet which was good, except that we’re lightweights with alcohol and found the sparkling rose quite strong!
JASMINE TEA CUSTARD, BURNT CARAMEL $5
Fatbee and Fakegf had this for dessert, served in a dainty little teacup. It was like a creme caramel served cold, but we couldn’t taste the jasmine tea in it.
We had an enjoyable meal here, the food’s quite modern yet it retains authenticity in its Chinese roots. I’m pretty keen on coming back to discover more of the menu!
But my main feedback would be for the front staff to familiarise themselves with when and how to serve rice… especially with Asian customers. Rice not coming at the same time as our dishes is a pet peeve of mine when dining at Asian spots because you have to wait and let your food go cold. After the bun and wraps (which don’t need rice) were finished… when the eggplant and saltwater duck arrived, rice didn’t come (even though we’d ordered a serve each right at the start). When we asked for our ordered rice, only 1 bowl of rice came instead of 5. Five diners can’t share 1 bowl of rice!