Lee Ho Fook
92 Smith Street
+61 3 9077 6261
Fusion Chinese are two words I personally do not want to hear side-by-side. Maybe it’s because I’m Chinese and so I find the “bastardisation” of cuisine from my culture unacceptable. As narrow-minded as that may sound, I have to admit, Lee Ho Fook has opened my eyes and palate.
Dinner at Lee Ho Fook was to celebrate Chinese New Year and also to catch up with my bunch of Singapore homies from my previous work-place. We managed to snag a reservation along the popular, then-newish, restaurant on Smith Street and rocked up to a dim raucous atmosphere at Lee Ho Fook.
Gossip exchanged, we got down into serious business with Fatbooo and Fatbooobooo starting with a pork belly milk bun to share. We were expecting a “gua bow” (ala Wonderbao) type of bun but what was presented was a slider of sort. Fried soft sweet buns sandwiched a crisp deep-fried slice of pork belly, accompanied by a slathering of garlicky-vinegary chilli sauce.
Carolyn, The Angmoh and myself sat out on entrees and were delighted as soon as our mains arrived. There was super crunchy eggplant, coated in a delicate caramelised black vinegar, heightened by the sweet nuances of kechap manis. This is fancy fish-fragrant eggplant, well-executed and elegant to the max.
Instead of the usual Peking duck pancakes that all the “guai lows” adore, Lee Ho Fook’s spin encompasses Wagyu beef, succulent and full of flavour. The house-made tofu softens the swamp of hot and sour soup and lends a gentle fragile hand to round up the tangy broth. The soup is perfect to drizzle over rice, which our table was lacking due to a miscommunication. We had initially asked for rice for the table but 2-3 dishes into our dinner all that was served was a single bowl. It took a while to finally get our order through and more bowls were then placed on our table.
We also had slow-roasted cumin lamb shoulder, which was superbly fall-apart tender. The spices were well-proportioned with a good balance between the flavour of the meat and the cumin. We pretty much left the supplemented chilli onion jam alone, it didn’t seem right as a pairing. Finally there was the saltwater duck, which appeared hidden in a blanket of radish, with each sliver of duck meat luscious and aromatic with gentle tea flavours. It was unanimous that this was the winning dish of the night and might have ended up with a possible chopstick war to have the very last piece.
The night was yet to be over and dessert had to be had. Each dessert came in a thoughtfully portioned individual serve with half of us choosing the sorbet and the remaining half, the custard. The former is extremely feminine, with the pink floral lychee sorbet submerged in a bath of sparkling rosé. The custard is essentially crème caramel with the jasmine flavours playing hide and seek on the tongue.
I thought I’d be sceptical throughout all of dinner at Lee Ho Fook but it turned out to be quite an enjoyable experience. The lure for me to return has to be the saltwater duck and crisp eggplant. And hopefully, next time round, rice will come at the start, and enough to go around.