Chef Victor Liong has opened a bar. And while it may be on the ground level of his CBD restaurant, Lee Ho Fook, he still wants it to be seen as a destination in its own right.
“I don’t want there to be a bar-in-a-restaurant type vibe, where people just hang out while they wait for a table,” he says. “I wanted a place to do interesting cocktails, and cool snacks … well-considered food but not in a restaurant environment.
“I want it to be a place where you come because you know it’s cool – you want to be there.”
The menu is a kind-of condensed version of what’s available in the Chinese restaurant upstairs (including the signature crispy eggplant), with a few additions. New is the Macanese pork bun – deep-fried pork chop in a crispy bun, with sriracha on the side. A few specials will also be available, such as blue swimmer crab with chrysanthemum leaves, red vinegar and avruga caviar, served in the shell.
Hamish McShane, who worked with Liong at Mr Wong in Sydney, has come on board as bar manager. There’s a small but considered list of beer, cider, sparkling and sake, and cocktails including The Blonde Spritz (made with French vermouth, sparkling wine, peach, grapefruit and soda) and My Fair Daisy (tequila, lemongrass, cucumber and lime).
As for the space, there are only about 16–18 seats, spread across the bar itself and a couple of small tables, with a view into the kitchen. It’s hung with Chinese lanterns, and light installations cast a kooky pink glow.
“Although it’s inside the mothership, it feels like an exciting new project,” says Liong.
Lee Ho Fook
11–15 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
(03) 9077 6261
Daily from 5.30pm