Spring & New Kid on the Block : Lee Ho Fook

Spring time brings colourful and allergic beginnings.  Eyups!  Unfortunately, I’m one of the many many unfortunate people suffering from horrid hay fever this year :(  So, parks and flowers are out of my reach for the time being :( so sad ….

Anyway, let’s welcome Spring – with blossoming flowers from the Fitzroy Gardens.

Spring time flowers

Today I’m heading to the popular stretch of Smith Street where the newly chef hatted Saint Crispin and the hotly anticipated Lee Ho Fook is located.   Just two weeks into their big opening, Lee Ho Fook, helmed by big names behind Movida and Pei Modern restaurants, has managed to get some approval nods from diners already.

In the kitchen, Head Chef, Victor Liong has derived some funky chinese menu which brings a new twist to Chinese cuisine.  I wonder what that means – can’t wait to try!

Lee Ho Fook

The exterior didn’t have a big restaurant sign that screams Lee Ho Fook.  The only visual impact that I had was a big 92 (which, by the way is the address).  The interior didn’t look at all like a Chinese restaurant – very modern looking with dark grey walls and hanging light balls.  Each table has a setting of chinese bowls and chopsticks.  There are high tables and chairs for one to two diners and big round tables for groupies.  The bar stood strong with a good selection of alcohol.

We were greeted by a very smiley waitress who chatted with us and brought us menu for browsing while waiting for our friends.  The menu was a simple one-pager that lists the dishes by size – small, entree and main.  There are also Chef’s special and desserts.  Small dishes were for individual eaters while the rest for sharing.

Milk bun, candied pork and cucumberMilk bun, candied pork, cucumber $6

We started with one serving of really soft milk bun served with pork slice, pork floss and cucumber.  Delicious but the serving was tiny.  I wish it was bigger so I can have a few more bites.

White cut chicken, chinese mushroom and pig ear White cut chicken, chinese mushroom and pig ear $16

Crispy eggplant, spiced red vinegarCrispy eggplant, spiced red vinegar $14

Interestingly, the food does not resemble Chinese but it tasted Chinese.  The White cut chicken was very roasted sesame-like and very fragrantful.  The same for Crispy eggplant.  The delicate eggplant was fried to extreme crispiness and then drizzled with sweet and spicy vinegar sauce.  The only complaint that I had was the portion was too small to share!

Braised chinese cabbage, enoki sauceBraised chinese cabbage, enoki sauce $16

We then moved on to something light with braised chinese cabbage and enoki sauce which we found had a tad little more salt than it should.  However, the soft texture of chinese cabbage was offset with the crisp bits of enoki.

Crispy skin shandong chickenCrispy skin Shandong chicken $24

If I had one word to describe this Shandong-style dish to you – it will have to be KAPOW!  The best parts are the crispy skin and rice-worthy sauce.  My favourite.

Yunan style lamb shoulderYunan Lamb shoulderYunan-style lamb shoulder, hoisin mustard, 8 grains and spicy pickles $58

May the Yunan-style lamb reign supreme!  The enormous lamb shoulder serving was actually for more than two parties.  With big, juicy, fell-out-of-bone meat, it was drool-worthy.  Wrapped like san choi bao and eaten with pickled radish, black rice and hoisin mustard, this is truly a Chef’s special.  I could taste the spice rubs in the lamb, more vibrantly from cumin and peppercorn.

Verdict : Overall, the menu seemed to be heading towards the direction of modern Chinese but still keeping to its traditional heritage.  Some dishes like the crispy eggplant has most twist compare to the Yunan-style lamb shoulder.  I believe in more ways, the Chef will continue to improve on the menu.  For me, I like the flavours and the idea of having Chinese in a relaxed casual ambience is great but I won’t specially make a detour just to come here.

Burp! Checklist
To die for : Yunan-style lamb shoulder, Crispy skin Shandong chicken
Price : $$
Yummy Factor : +3.5
Noise Level : Moderate

[Lee Ho Fook]
92 Smith St, Collingwood, Victoria
P: 03 9077 6261
Wed-Sun: Dinner
Fri & Sun: Lunch

You may also like : Lau’s Family Kitchen

Lee Ho Fook on Urbanspoon

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