Kitchen and Bar
A hidden jade of a restaurant in the heart of Melbourne is a haven for discerning foodies.
Cantonese Steamed Blue Cod Fillet
Cantonese Steamed Blue Cod Fillet
deconstructed and re-interpreted Asian cuisine that reflects the relentless energy and kinetic drive of its owners, Michael Lambie and Zac Cribbes (Executive Chef ).The name of the restaurant derives from a chance encounter by its owners with a Chinese stone carver in an alleyway in Shanghai in 2013. When prompted for a name to be carved into a stamp, Michael Lambie spontaneously blurted “Lucy Liu” – possibly with thoughts of that beautiful Chinese-American actress of the same name.Whatever was on Michael’s mind, the restaurant had a brilliantly catchy alliterative name and lurid red branding that has indelibly captured a dynamic market of movers and shakers.
The service is impressive and well-informed. There is a can-do attitude that Old Chinatown would well take lessons from. Quick, to the point, unfailingly competent and self-assured. Love your work!
Executive Chef Zac encourages culinary adventure. “We’d like to think of it as a Pan Asian-sort of experience. We have lots of vibe, lots of atmosphere and the food’s got a lot of punch to it. You know everything’s salty and sourand sweet and hot and really spicy.”
In terms of menu design, Zac says, “we have a menu that is broken down into different parts. There are a sharing style menu and a plated section, where there are hot salads and cold solids. And then you’ve got our signature dishes, with larger portions of proteins like the Wagyu beef or Hock Pork. Of course, you can leave it up to us to showcase the best of us to you.”
Tradition and predictability are not what this restaurant is about what makes this restaurant excellent. While each dish honours its Pan Asian roots – with focus on Vietnam, Korea, Thailand and Japan, there are elements in each meal which are smart, original and just works.
The classic Cantonese dim sum “Siu Mai” rests in a shallow pool of pungent chilli and sesame oil to give a real zing to its delicate skin wrapping. The steam barramundi derives from the freshest possible stock and infused with a generous dollop of dark soy sauce and spiciness. Lucy Liu’s signature dish, the Pork Hock is a miracle of a dish marrying the soft velvetiness of fat and melting meat with the deliciously, coarse deep-fried salty outer layer.
The pillowy white fluffy buns to wrap the strips of highly-flavoured meats, pickled vegetables and freshly chopped chilli works a treat to activate the appetite for more.
While many Asian restaurants dessert menus are somewhat dull and predictable, Lucy Liu excites the eyes and senses with innovation and cleverness. The ginger Crème Brulee is so classically European in its structure yet it is infused with an Asian sensibility that is a treat to behold.
The beauty of this restaurant is that it understands that dining is now an all-day affair, which is now a function of our fractured working hours and that flexibility pays in spades for city workers.
The owners of Lucy Liu pride themselves on the brilliant coupling of big intense flavours coupled with an eclectic range of colourful cooling mixed drinks and cocktails that takes the senses to a whole new realm – much like visiting a live volcano thrusting up from an ice field.
I would recommend that first-timers leave their inhibitions at the door and entrust the order to the smart-working team at Lucy Liu’s for a palette-opening experience.
Address: 23 Oliver Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000
Hours: 11am – 11pm
Phone: (03) 9639 5777
Ginger Creme Brulee