Lee Ho Fook

92 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria

All Details
The interior's plain, the food's very good.
The interior's plain, the food's very good.

Dani Valent

Innovative food is often very showy, a culinary yell, a prima donna trying to impress the palate. Not at Lee Ho Fook, where much of the Chinese food looks straightforward: a crunchy battered prawn, seafood with a dab of XO sauce, glistening fried rice, mushrooms smooshed with tofu. It even tastes pretty straight - at first. But the flavours in each dish develop as you eat, coming into themselves slowly, like a Polaroid. For example, the battered prawn crunches like any well-behaved crustacean but it tastes extra intense because it's crumbed in more prawn (dried, grated prawn mousse mixed with tapioca flour) and dusted with freeze-dried honey and soy. It's a simple dish boosted by mysterious wiles.

The chef at Lee Ho Fook is Victor Liong. He learnt contemporary culinary tricks at Sydney fine dining favourite Marque, then schooled in fun-loving Chinese at the amazing Mr Wong, also in Sydney. At Lee Ho Fook, the lo-fi look and unassuming menu belie the thoughtful, geeky action in the kitchen. The food is both time and space-shifting, mixing ancient and modern techniques, darting from old Canton to Paris to Szechuan to Melbourne. That might explain the (small, green Spanish) padron peppers, blackened in a wok and served with a bruleed sauce of miso and black beans. It's not fusion, it's more ''explode the atlas and just make sure it's delicious''.

Some dishes are incredibly pretty. Braised duck is hidden under a purple rain of compressed radicchio and sliced radish, the bitter notes of the vegetables niggling at the firm yet tender, salty duck. Moreton Bay bug tails are dusted with potato starch then steamed so they have a dumpling-like skin that just restrains the juicy shellfish. It's topped with a bacon-heavy XO (a spicy sauce) and sits in white soy dressing offset by bright green shallot oil. Desserts riff on traditional Chinese flavours (jasmine tea custard, for example, and violet and lychee sorbet).

Pimento de padron with miso and sichuan butter.
Pimento de padron with miso and sichuan butter. Photo: James Boddington

Lee Ho Fook's owners (they also have MoVida and Pei Modern) are planning a second branch in the city in spring. I say a big ''yes'' to having two venues to lap up Liong's exuberant, beguiling take on Chinese food.

Rating: Four stars (out of five)

Rate this restaurant

Rate this restaurant:

Use [left] and [right] keys to rate, [enter] to submit, [esc] to cancel.

Rate this restaurant with 0.5 a star Rate this restaurant with 1 star Rate this restaurant with 1.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 2 stars Rate this restaurant with 2.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 3 stars Rate this restaurant with 3.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 4 stars Rate this restaurant with 4.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 5 stars

Write a review

Thanks for voting!

Write a review

92 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria

  • Cuisine - Chinese
  • Prices - Snacks and entrees $4-$19; mains $24-$29, Desserts $5-$7
  • Features - Licensed
  • Chef(s) - Victor Liong
  • Cards accepted - AMEX, Mastercard, Visa, EFTPOS
  • Opening Hours - Wed-Sat and Mon 6pm-10-pm; Sunday noon-10pm
  • Author - Dani Valent
Close map

Similar Restaurants

Mao's

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (16)

Laksa Me

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Reader ratings (4)

Comments

Be the first to comment.

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Most viewed restaurants

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Sydney

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Melbourne

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Brisbane

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Canberra

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Festive feasting

Turkey, ham, seafood, pudding: these recipes have got you covered.