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By November 12, 2014 , , , ,

As the cold brittle winter made way for blooms, new shrubs and warmer weather, the time has come again where Mr.S and I celebrate another year of being together. In the past years, we would usually hit up the fine dining rooms in Crown or a hotel, order a slab of red meat and spoke in hushed tones because people in those places seem to look at you in a funny way if you declined sparkling water and wine – we’re just not a big wine and sparkling water drinker! This year, we wanted something different. We wanted a place with food that excite and a more intimate setting… and we couldn’t be more excited when we scored the last table reservation for the night at one of Melbourne’s hottest restaurant and bar of the moment, Lucy Liu.

A funny story to share before we dive further into our Lucy Liu adventure – When I suggested the place to Mr. S, his first reaction was: “Ooo…does Lucy Liu actually own the place?” While I gently let him down, I showed him drool-worthy pictures that other diners have posted on Urban Spoon. Those pictures and promising reviews took us through the next two weeks…

Until I fell ill with a sudden and nasty fever on the day!

Two hours before we were due there and I was shaking like a leaf, but reassuring Mr.S that I was fine. Armed with Neurofen and Tiger Balm in my clutch, I still managed to primped for the occasion. Although, a word of advice for the ladies: drawing a precise and sharp eyeliner when you are not feeling well can take out almost all your energy!

"Look straight in the camera. Don't pass out...Gosh I need to sit. Can I do this?"

After a 40 minutes’ drive and a short tram ride, we trotted down Flinders Lane and turned into Oliver Lane, where the red neon Lucy Liu sign called out to us. Dressed to the nines in my fabulous strappy heels, I battled the cobblestone walkways characteristic of Melbourne’s laneways, clutching onto Mr.S like he was a drift wood in the ocean.

Finally, we’ve arrived. Tucked on the first floor in a laneway like an opium den of years past, we found ourselves in the busy eatery. The friendly maitre d was apologetic that there was a wait for our tables and suggested we got a drink at the bar while we waited. While the cocktail list was impressive, an empty stomach and ibuprofen do not set a good scene for consumption of alcohol. So I passed, while Mr. S opted for a beer.

We took this opportunity to take in the surrounding. The d├ęcor was contemporary with some Asian influence. It was definitely cozy and intimate, made the more merrier by punters from Derby Day earlier. I’d imagine if Lucy Liu does open her own restaurant and bar, this will be it: Sleek, sexy and intimate. It is apparent that the proprieters of Lucy Liu has made it their mission to make sure the theme of the restaurant translates into every corner, including the toilets and powder room. I rarely encounter a toilet and powder room that has individual speakers in the cubicles so visitors can enjoy the music. There was also proper paper towels, Sukin hand wash liquid, even nail and hand cream. It was a pleasant surprise to find such hospitality in Australia.

Anyway, we were seated after 30 minutes, which was not that bad. While we were still getting over the fact that our place mats were also menus and they were frickin' hologram, the lovely folks at Lucy Liu were so apologetic that they said we could have a complimentary dish, which we are very thankful for. Yup, free food, that's great. But can we talk about the hologram place mats/menus?? 

After we got over that, we thought a dish on the house would be a bowl of peanuts or a couple of fried mini wonton. But no, Lucy Liu does complimentary dishes different. We scored ourselves a dish of beautiful King Fish Sashimi With Mint and Coconut Cream. *throws confetti in the air

Frankly speaking, by that time I was so famished that they could’ve served me plastic and I would’ve devoured it. The serious mood lighting there, combined with the great R&B and deep house music and the fact that I was trying so hard not to pass out from that damn on and off fever meant I had no idea what I ate. But I trusted Mr.S that it was sashimi. I only remembered that it was delicious. The coconut cream was the icing on the cake (fish?) adding substance and layer to the dish. Sadly, Mr.S and I were so starved that we could not get a photo of the dish before we devoured it.

Korean Spicy Chicken Ribs

From then on, dishes and dishes of amazing food appeared in front of us, which only drew oooohs and ahhhs from us. Presentation wise, there was not much to go ga-ga about. The eatery prides itself as a street-food fare, so we expected the servings to be small, meant to be shared with my dining companion. But the flavour, OH THE FLAVOUR! I’d never thought to pair Korean Spicy Chicken Ribs with mayo, but that was a great pairing. The mayo tones down the heat from the chicken creates a very pleasant tasting experience.

The stuff that dreams are made of...

The highlight dish of the night for us was the Lucy Liu Wagyu Beef. Slices of 7+ wagyu served with soy sauce and horse radish sauce. Frankly, I had the dish without dipping in the sauces. The robust flavour and texture of the beef was heavenly. The dish is now the yardstick to which all steak, home cooked or otherwise, will be judged on.

Here are some of the other dishes that we sampled on the night. They were all excellent and brought back memories of strolling the night market with my family. Except instead of ending up with mayo down my shirt front thanks to flimsy paper plates, I was surrounded by the always beautiful Melbourne crowd and sitting opposite the love of my life.

Fried Quail with Plum Sauce. Delicious!

Steamed Bun With Crispy Pork and Spicy Mayo. The crackling can be heard over the buzzing crowd.

We finished off the dining experience with a orange foam chocolate dulce de leche. I love chocolate and orange pairing so this was naturally a winner.

With a belly full of goodies, we bid adieu to Lucy Liu. We exited the warm, scarlet light-filled space and was slapped in the face by the surprisingly cold and harsh November wind (Melbourne weather, why are you so fickle?)

I have just recovered from the mystery and nasty bout of fever that turned out to be an onset of tonsillitis and a nasty round of mouth sores. But braving the cold wind on the night to Lucy Liu was one of the finest decisions that I’ve made. Recovering can wait, but memories and amazing food, those are the things that cannot be missed. In fact, unlike the renowned steak houses, we will definitely be going back to Lucy Liu, just for a night out in town.

Dining Out:
Lucy Liu Melbourne
23 Oliver Lane Melbourne
VIC 3000
03 9639 5777

Opening Hours: 7 days. 11am - late

Cuisine: Contemporary Asian

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