Like many of the restaurants in its vicinity, Lucy Liu is accessible via a cobblestone alleyway (Oliver Lane) located just off Flinders Lane and lit up by an eponymous, neon sign.
Headed by Michael Lambie and Scott Borg (Circa, Taxi Dining Room and The Smith), Lucy Liu’s aim is to bring multicultural-Asian cuisine to a modern, shared dining experience. Melbourne and Flinders Lane in particular certainly aren’t strangers to modern Asian cuisine, but with a dining scene that is heavily influenced by South East Asian flavours, it’s refreshing to see that the dishes here primarily draw on a range techniques, distinct flavours and elements from Northern Asian cuisine.
At Lucy Liu, you will find some revamped approaches to some Asian street foods, such as the Soft Shell Crab Jian Bing, a fancier version of pancakes eaten in Northern China, and spins on some favourites, such as the deliciously addictive Korean Fried Chicken ribs with Kewpie Mayo.
Thinking back, it’s almost been a year since I first visited Lucy Liu on its opening night and coming here again, its lovely to be greeted with the same warmth and energy that made for another pleasant experience the second time round.
‘The bees knees’ cocktail
The cocktails at Lucy Liu are separated by ‘strong’ and ‘weaker’ concoctions. This cocktail was delicious with flavours of pineapple and passionfruit and perfect for anyone looking for something light and refreshing.
Soft shell crab jian bing ($12)
Lucy Liu definitely did this street snack justice – the soft shell crab was crispy and flavoursome and served with some (very) spicy hoisin sauce. The pancakes were thin with a nice chewy texture to it, delicious and just as expected.
BBQ Lap Chong Hot dog in milk buns ($8 each)
Lap cheong is something I have eaten since I was a little kid and when I was younger, we used to make our own buns by wrapping the lap cheong with some dough and then patiently wait until they finished steaming. For those of you who haven’t tried lap cheong before, its a Chinese sausage which is semi translucent and chewy with a sweet aftertaste. Lap cheong buns can be found in many Chinese bakeries however its not something generally seen in modern Asian dining so I was extremely keen to try this dish out. Whilst I love the concept, I don’t feel it did much to warrant the price and it was a bit dry for my liking.
Korean fried chicken ribs with kewpie mayo ($14)
Can you ever say no to succulent, fried chicken ribs? This was seasoned perfectly with a kick from the fresh chilli – my favourite dish from my first visit here and still hasn’t changed.
Wok roasted king prawn with spicy bamboo salad and chilli galangal dressing ($22)
The best way to explain this dish is that it had a good balance of ‘wok hei’, a smoky aroma that you would get from high-heat wok cooking. A simple dish that worked well though I would have been happy to forego the bamboo salad completely.
Crispy fried szechuan duck with watercress salad and tamarind sesame dressing ($35)
The duck was cooked perfectly and not gamey at all, whilst the tamarind sesame dressing was a perfect accompaniment.
Crispy masterstock free range chicken, bamboo salad, nam prick and hot & sour dressing ($29)
In addition to the salad, the crispy chicken was also served with a delicious ‘son in law egg’ (deep fried egg with a soft yolk centre). Really enjoyed all the flavours from this dish, especially the sticky dressing which had a honey aftertaste.
Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar
23 Oliver Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000