It's back to the Warren Zevon back-catalogue for the owners of Melbourne's Lee Ho Fook, who have christened their soon-to-be-opened Asian café Lawyers, Guns and Money. In the heart of the legal district, LGM banishes smashed avocado and scrambled eggs in favour of breakfasts of congee and steamed tofu. The area's beaks and wigs will also have the option of going the whole Chinese hog with honeycomb tripe and pigs' ears on a menu chef and co-owner Victor Liong dreamed up while travelling through Asia last year. "I was thinking how great it would be to get the kind of food I grew up eating for breakfast, only with a bit more of a modern Chinese Lee Ho Fook concept," says Liong.
Nothing much had to be done to the Little Collins Street space, itself a former (and very short-lived) Asian café. "We've inherited it. It's like someone pointed at a trade magazine and said we'll have all that," says Liong. "Polished concrete, timber... It could be anywhere. But it's all incredibly new and they had a proper wok burner and steamers so we were good to go."
Initially open on weekdays only, LGM will kick off with a lunch menu of snacks such as Padrón peppers Wong Ah Wah-style ("a sweet chilli bean miso-type sauce"), four kinds of chicken wings, including har cheong-style with sweet rice wine and prawn paste, wok-fried noodle dishes and larger dishes of stir-fried rice cakes with Sichuan chilli bean paste, pork and prawns, and steamed barramundi with Lee Ho Fook's ginger and spring onion dressing. A short booze list includes Melbourne Bitter and Tsingtao beers, and a handful of Australia wines.
The head chef is Mike Li, Liong's sous-chef at Lee Ho Fook since it first opened on Collingwood's Smith Street in 2013. Liong and partners, meanwhile, have other irons in the fire with plans to turn the ground-floor private dining room at the new and improved Lee Ho Fook at Duckboard Place into a bar (timeline: April).
Lawyers, Guns and Money, 505 Little Collins St, Melbourne.