Lucy Liu isn’t a film star in Melbourne; she’s an up & 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 & 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 & 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 & airy, filled with an army of young chefs and waiters eager to please.

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The service was fantastic.  The food was pretty damn good.  We did feel, however, that it held back on the spice factor where other cult favourites pepper the right dishes with the appropriate amount of heat..

We chose not to ‘Let Lucy Choose’, and went wild with our dish selection in true style.

Tempura soft shelled crab – with hot green nam jim ($16)Lucy Liu 1280-3This 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.

Eggplant & pork tempura – with purple shiso, plum & ponzu dressing ($14)Lucy Liu 1280-2This dish 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 really tied the dish together so perfectly.

Rare breed sticky pork belly – palm sugar caramel, young coconut salad & red chili ($20)Lucy Liu 1280-4The pork 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.

Barramundi & scampi dumplings – with chili, ginger & spring onions ($14)Lucy Liu 1280-6These were absolutely beautiful.

Crispy pork bun – with spicy kimchi & kewpie mayo ($8 each)Lucy Liu 1280-5Delicious and right on par with all the other Asian restaurants doing similar variations.

Wok fried local calamari – with pickled papaya & hot mint salad, red nam jim ($18)Lucy Liu 1280-7Though 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.

Lucy Liu Wagyu beef F1 7+ – with yakiniku dipping sauce & hot mustard horseradish ($38)Lucy Liu 1280-8This was exquisite and by far the best dish of the day.  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 & the horseradish cream was whipped to fluffy perfection.  One of the best dishes we’ve had all year.

Korean style crispy pork hock – with apple kimchi salad, pancakes & hoi sin ($38)Lucy Liu 1280-9I’ve only really seen ham hock braised, used in stews or soups.. so this modern take on Peking duck with pig was actually quite ingenious.  The ridiculously large amount of 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.

Crispy banana fritters – with coconut ice cream ($15)Lucy Liu 1280-16The bananas were so beautifully creamy and overripe and coated in a super crunchy black sesame batter.  There was a tasty caramel sauce and a really wonderful creamy coconut ice cream accompaniment which you could argue was actually the star of the dish.

Chocolate dulce de leche – with blood orange foam ($15)Lucy Liu 1280-17The dulce de leche was creamy and smooth, and the intense sweetness was balanced nicely with the tangy blood orange foam.  A really lovely way to finish off our meal.

In all honesty, my husband and I had a great time at Lucy Liu.  We left in great danger of collapsing in a post-prandial 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 ambience is worth experiencing and the food and service are more than sound.

23 Oliver Lane
Melbourne  VIC  3000
(03) 9639 5777
Bookings & walk-ins accepted

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

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