Lucy Lui is a hip Asian restaurant on Russell Street (entry via 23 Oliver lane) in Melbourne and it was absolutely packed at 6pm on a Wednesday. We had no choice but to share a high bar table, which was fine. A variety of folk filled this place – young pretty things, hipsters, tattoo-laden blokes, couples double-dating and tables of city suits.
We were on a mission: eat and run mission and not be late to the Kylie Minogue concert. Two rice beers, please for my gluten-free sister and me. I like rice beer, it’s really clean tasting.
There were enough paleo-ish friendly choices to fill me up, however I’m sure many of the sauces in the dishes would contain sugar.
We told the waitress we were on a time limit and our dishes came out quickly, which was perfect. The other thing that was perfect was the duck in a sticky tamarind sauce with sesame dressing. The szechuan pepper gave the dish some heat, and the sweet duck with that gorgeous sauce and fresh watercress – yum – seriously succulent and gorgeous.
The sticky pork belly with palm sugar caramel, young coconut salad and chilli was also soft and beautifully flavoured.
The Asian greens were lovely and just as you’d expect. Cooked with a bit of bite left and coated in oyster sauce.
And now for the epic fail.
The fish cakes were the worst most horrible fish cakes I’ve ever had. Firstly, they looked like pieces of poo on the plate – okay, this is a modern Asian, they don’t have to be in the traditional shape, I thought. Then I bit into it. The exterior was tough and all I could taste was oil. And not good oil either. The inside was dry and had a strong dose of chilli in it. After three bites, my mouth was so hot that I started to sweat. The dipping sauce contained sambal, more chilli, so no relief there. Not pleasant to eat and I let the waitress know why. An absolute fail.
Thank you for the duck – it was worth visiting Lucy Lui for that dish alone.
(only because the fish cakes were so bad).
23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9639 5777