I had heard so much great feedback on Lucy Liu’s, the newest Asian fusion restaurant to open in Melbourne - that I knew that I had to keep a trip there for a special occasion. With an anniversary approaching, I booked a spot there for last Saturday with Kevin. Walking down a George Parade from Collins Street to Flinders Lane, I couldn't get over the monstrous queue that was waiting outside Chin Chin. Kevin was quick to remind me that it WAS a Saturday night and THAT sort of situation is not at all that uncommon at Chin Chin. Deservedly so, the food is spectacular and yes the waiting for a table adds to the excitement but I was so happy to find out when I researched Lucy Liu’s that it took reservations. A simple call and a few minutes later, I was happy in the knowledge that I was guaranteed a table for dinner.
Jumping through the line outside Chin Chin, we made our way down the lane beside the building to Go Go Bar. Located underneath Chin Chin, the bar is the perfect spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. The atmosphere was electric, the music pulsating and the crowd a mix of trendy young socials and an older crowd trying to keep up with the youngsters.
Starting the evening off with a few gin and tonics, we looked around and just took in everything that the Go Go bar has to offer. It really has that something special that nowhere else does.
The time seemed to fly by and suddenly we had to rush off to grab our table at Lucy Liu's. The restaurant has taken over the space that was PM24, a French inspired venue that was part of George Calombaris’ restaurant group I believe. You can enter through the Russell Street entrance, however there is a secret entrance on Oliver Lane that not everyone is aware of. You see there is no signage along the lane apart from a vibrant red light that pours out of the entrance. Its only when you’ve slipped your way into the hall that you notice the giant neon red Lucy Liu sign and voila you’re in.
The interior of the restaurant is one of the most impressive I’ve seen since visiting Gazi and its terracotta pot roof for the first time. Concrete, wood and steel are three of the most used materials within the space and altogether create something magical. We were placed smack bang in the middle of the room, so we could see everything going on. Quiet, reserved and stiff, are the characteristics of a restaurant that I detest most and this spot was none of those. It was casual dining at its best.
Our female server was excellent at going through the menu with us and offered us some great advice about how many of small, medium and large plates we should grab for the two of us. Of course our eyes were bigger than our bellies and we ordered more than she suggested.
We started off with the duck dumplings with hoi sin sauce and coriander. These were absolutely delicious and a lot more refined than the likes you would get in, lets say, the likes of China Red. We followed this with the chicken spare ribs with Kewpie mayonnaise. Having had the same sort of dish in Gingerboy a few years back, no chicken ribs have ever trumped those. Unfortunately, the ribs just didn’t wow us like we thought they would. It was when the table next to us received their sticky beef and crispy pork steamed buns that we called the waitress over and asked for one of each. Kevin’s sticky bun went down a treat and my crispy pork bun the same.
At this point we could have walked out content, however we had ordered the crispy pork hock to share. Deliciously crispy on the outside, one crack of the exterior and inside a giant mound of soft pork meat was found, waiting to be paired with the accompanying pancakes, apple slaw, spring onions and hoi sin sauce. It was a messy affair and definitely not suitable for a first date, but incredibly delicious. A standout dish and one that could easily be comparable to the likes of Cumulus Inc.’s lamb shoulder or Supernormal's Peanut Butter Parfait.
We left without dessert, simply because we couldn’t fathom the idea of trying to fit it in. We’d done a good job and it was time to go. Walking through Flinders Lane, on our way home I looked into each of the restaurants we passed. Coda looked utterly cosy, Supernormal was packed to the brim and it made me appreciate how many wonderful spots we have here in Melbourne. It’s an amazing city, one that I love and when food is your passion – you could almost say you’re already in heaven.
23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne,