Lucy Liu isn’t a film star in Melbourne; she’s an up and coming restaurant with a lot of potential. It opened on Friday and, as yet, still remains a hidden gem sharing the same laneway as Coda and Bowery to Williamsburg – both fine establishments flooded with trendy customers. It’s the first Asian restaurant by MAdE Establishment (George Calombaris’ team), with executive chef Michael Lambie (The Smith; formerly Taxi and Circa) in charge of the menu.
The restaurant/bar has replaced PM24 and has been decked out by March Studio. The look is casual, spacious and airy, filled with an army of young chefs and waiters eager to please.
The service was fantastic, and the food was pretty damn good too. We chose not to ‘Let Lucy Choose’, and went wild with our dish selection in true de-briefme.com style.
First, the tempura soft shelled crab, with hot green nam jim. Unfortunately, this wasn’t spicy at all. The flavours were good but it really could have done with more of a sauce to tie the miscellaneous components together.
The eggplant and pork tempura was definitely in want of a garnish – for a bit of photogenic clout – but as we all are aware, sometimes non-lookers can pack a punch and the intricately flavoured mince pork tucked within the thin slices of eggplant certainly did. The textures were fantastic and the accompanying sauce tied the dish together so perfectly.
The rare breed sticky pork belly was divinely succulent and crispy on top, sweetened subtly with the caramelised palm sugar. The chilli had no kick to it at all but the young coconut salad was amazing.
Both the barramundi and scampi dumplings and the crispy pork bun with spicy kimchi and kewpie mayo were absolutely beautiful and right on par with all the other Asian restaurants doing similar variations.
Though this also lacked fire, the calamari was wonderfully seasoned, cooked to perfection and went oh-so-well with the mint and the luscious shreds of pickled papaya.
Dish of the day was the Lucy Liu wagyu beef F1 7+ with yakiniku dipping sauce and hot mustard horseradish. If you come to Lucy Liu and order one dish, I urge you, order this one. The wagyu was amazing, the yakiniku dipping sauce was uniquely laced with just the right amount of honey and the horseradish cream was whipped to fluffy perfection. One of the best dishes we’ve had all year.
I’ve only really seen ham hock braised, used in stews or soups, so the Korean style crispy pork hock, with apple kimchi salad, pancakes and hoi sin was actually quite ingenious. The meat was so tender and it was deliciously crispy on the outside. It was served with cucumber, spring onions, hoi sin sauce, and shredded green apple delicately infused with a hint of kimchi.
By this stage, my husband and I were stuffed to the brim but eventually mustered the courage to try some desserts as well.
We decided on crispy banana fritters and chocolate dulce de leche. The bananas were beautifully creamy and overripe, coated in a super crunchy black sesame batter. There was a tasty caramel sauce and a creamy coconut ice cream accompaniment which you could argue was actually the star of the dish.
The dulce de leche was creamy and smooth, and the intense sweetness was balanced nicely with the tangy blood orange foam. A lovely way to finish off our meal.
My husband and I had a great time at Lucy Liu. We left in great danger of collapsing in a postprandial coma but take full responsibility for our gluttony that day.
To be fair, you can’t really compare Lucy Liu to other restaurants because each dish’s oriental flare pays tribute to different parts of Asia. Yes it’s expensive; but the ambiance is worth experiencing and the food and service are more than sound.