Lucy Liu – Melbourne, City – Sunday 3 August 2014 – Lunch

Korean fried chicken with kewpie mayo

Korean fried chicken with kewpie mayo

The success of restaurants is extremely difficult to measure if not using awards, hats, stars and longevity as key performance indicators. I’ll never know whether financial success was gained at a number of restaurants I’ve enjoyed immensely over the years. PM24 is one of those restaurants. When Catherine and I shared some meals there, including a Gourmet Traveller Reader Dinner, all was looking well and prosperity seemed assured.

PM24 is no longer. In it’s place is Lucy Liu and my first impressions of the facade, and some good critiques since by friends, seemed to grab me enough to walk from Richmond, via the Italian Masterpieces exhibition at NGV to Oliver Lane which also boasts Bowery to Williamsburg and Coda as its neighbours.

Entering from Oliver Lane is very cool, but may be a nightmare for anyone wearing heals! The overhauled fit out is nicely done – stripped back, lots of light furnishings, with the sun shining bright through the Russell Street facing windows. Crazy holographic menus set the scene for a bit of fun in the food and service. Indeed, our waitperson was excellent at explaining the menu and what others have been doing with their shared orders. There was a hint of upselling, but not enough to be uncomfortable or outside of his role.

Kingfish sashimi and steamed sticky beef buns

Kingfish sashimi and steamed sticky beef buns

We were here for lunch and wanted to try a few dishes so overlooked the mains, which sound fantastic. We ordered a couple starters, some buns and some dumplings. Interestingly, the kingfish sashimi with green chilli, hot mint and toasted coconut came out along with the steamed sticky beef buns with thinly sliced cucumber, hot chilli and black vinegar. The ordering of the dishes was right though. It felt like settling into some yum cha on a Sunday. We started on the buns which are served like little hot dogs with the rich vinegary beef filling the bun. They were very nice, but for me the kingfish was superior. Nice slices of sashimi topped with the green chilli finely chopped and the coconut presented in a consistency between a foam and a puree. The combination was good and funnily enough I now realise that the last place I had a similar dish was at the sister restaurant, The Smith, which is more like a distant cousin.

Next came the dumplings. Lucy Liu feels a little like Supernormal down the road on Flinders Lane. While I would normally order duck at some stage, I thought it would be good to try something different and the barramundi and scampi jumped out. Like great pasta, when you have an amazing dumpling it is the vessel that is often the best part. Lucy Liu’s dumplings delivered with both a beautiful casing and exquisite ingredients.

Barramundi and scampi dumplings

Barramundi and scampi dumplings

To finish, the chicken ribs arrived and as we were told, they had a generous amount of juicy chicken in a delicious Korean fried batter. The kewpie mayo was a good foil for the oil and added some luxurious texture to what is definitely fitting the bill as Asian street food.

The joy in all of these flavours is their ability to marry each other in the same meal, even though they are coming from all over Asia. If I was feeling patriotic I would say that it would be difficult in many other countries to have such a diverse, but complimentary, menu of flavours from several different countries.

When Teage Ezard launched Gingerboy almost ten years ago it was inventive and raw. A chef of the highest calibre was experimenting with street food and taking it to a level that was exceptional. Lucy Liu is one of a growing number of restaurants pushing the idea to a different level using more diverse Asian tastes.

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon


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