Ho Lee Fook
2014 has been an incredible year for new restaurant openings in Hong Kong and few have attracted more attention than the mischievously named Ho Lee Fook. In fact, the name, despite its tongue-in-cheek wordplay, translates to “good fortune for your mouth” and on that promise Chef Jowett Yu certainly succeeds as he lures diners with his quest to “reinvent classic Chinese dishes with premium ingredients, modern techniques and a touch of humour”.
The highly acclaimed Tawian-born chef has a very impressive track record of delivering too, particularly in Sydney where, since 2007, he has been lighting up the culinary scene, most recently at Mr Wong and Ms G’s – two of Sydney’s most notable and funky pan-Asian dining experiences. At both eateries his sense of adventure and fun oozed, amused and delighted serious diners who, like Jowett, see the importance of total culinary enjoyment; which, in a word, is what his new venture, Ho Lee Fook, is all about.
Aesthetically, its decor and design sets the fun mood perfectly. Enter via the stairs, look left into the fast paced kitchens and the mah-jong piece tiling, look right and the wall is crammed with hundreds of lucky waving cats, while straight ahead is the startling massive peacock, and that’s just the way in! Once inside, simple black seating and stone walls are lifted by coverings, including a theatrical dragon and Jonathan Jay Lee’s bright scenes of the Gage Street Market.
The design was inspired by Hong Kong cha chaan tengs and New York’s 1960s Chinatown hangouts. Music, too, plays a big part in creating the restaurants atmosphere – ZZ Top, The Stones and other classic rock n roll bands shape the old school ambience and create a retro meets modern vibe. It is a pretty cool dining space, but does the food live up to expectations?
The menu has pan-Asian appeal and, true to his promise, he serves up some marvellous reinvented timeless classics. From the To Start section, try his Mom’s “mostly cabbage a little bit of pork” dumplings with sacha soy dressing. The story goes his mother would make him watch her cook – well thank you Mrs. Yu!
He also offers an uber-trendy raw menu, with dishes like the Hokkaido scallop, snowpea, pickled enoki and salmon roe proving very popular. His experimental angle with veggies has brought us the scrumptious Fried Cauliflower Brussels Sprouts served with maple bacon chilli jam, and a range of equally beguiling salads.
Traditional roast meats loom large too, with Kurobota Port Char-sui and Whole Roast Goose being particular favourites. Other mains include the fantastic Roast Wagyu Short Ribs and the DIY San Choi Bao and his superb Prawn Lo Mein, all created, cooked and served with style.
Ho Lee Fook’s desert and drinks menus are just as appealing and help make dining at the fashionable new restaurant a memorable, and often lengthy, experience. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 6PM until late and pre-booking is highly recommended.