Seven years ago, when Founders Syed Asim Hussain and Christopher Mark first embarked on the journey that was to become Ho Lee Fook, it was to push boundaries and redefine the rules of what a Chinese restaurant could be, in a city brimming with them. Taking an inventive approach to Cantonese flavours and focusing on premium ingredients and creative execution, with just a touch of humour, Ho Lee Fook was first met with downright disdain and suspicion. Although critiqued off the bat for its presentation, loud music and dark basement environment, Asim and Chris knew that Ho Lee Fook was a story that needed to be told, and believed that the work the team was doing would, at some point, finally gain the recognition it deserved. Within a year, that vision was fulfilled: from the iconic wall of waving Chinese lucky cats to the sizzling sound of flame-fired woks heard down Elgin Street, Ho Lee Fook became a larger-than-life fixture on the restaurant scene and one of the most coveted tables in town. Over the years, the idiosyncratic eatery would reach near-mythical status as a Hong Kong institution, beloved by locals and sought-after by out-of-towners, with guests waiting upwards of two hours just to experience the restaurant’s elusive brand of magic.

After a top-to-bottom renovation, Ho Lee Fook is ready to begin its next chapter with newly appointed Head Chef ArChan Chan working alongside the same skilled, seasoned Ho Lee Fook team that helped to launch the restaurant to cult status. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chef ArChan spent the last 13 years earning her chops in some of Australia’s finest kitchens, refining her techniques and expanding her cooking knowledge. “It is almost serendipitous for me, that as I chose to embark on the next chapter of my own journey it aligned so perfectly with the next steps for Ho Lee Fook. I cannot wait to join the talented team and be part of the next chapter for this ground-breaking restaurant, working for the first time in the city I call home,” comments ArChan.

Embodying the core ethos of the old Ho Lee Fook, marked by boundary-breaking flavours and buzzing energy, Ho Lee Fook 2.0 enters a coming-of-age proudly bearing its Hong Kong spirit as the team leans heavily into the restaurant’s roots, presenting a menu shaped by a deep love and appreciation for Cantonese cuisine. Having always been a flagbearer for the city, the restaurant experience will become more sophisticated and luxurious, but will forever remain a place where diners can expect a boisterous, lively experience with unrivalled hospitality. The new menu will continue to reflect the dynamic energy of the restaurant, featuring signature Ho Lee Fook dishes including the Roast Wagyu Short Rib and the “Prawn Toast x Okonomiyaki” with Kewpie mayonnaise, Bull-dog sauce, shaved cabbage and anori, alongside creative new additions dreamt up by Chef ArChan that serve as a love letter to her hometown.

Showcasing Chef ArChan’s affinity for the wok, the newly renovated kitchen fitted out with additional burners affords the team more space to create, bringing to life a number of classic Cantonese dishes including the Hong Kong signature: Stir-fry King. Defined by its textures and flavours, this wok-fried speciality features an aromatic combination of flowering garlic chives, yellow chives and chilli tossed with cuttlefish and crispy anchovy, topped off with cashews for crunch. Staying true to the roast meat tradition of the original Ho Lee Fook, Chef ArChan and the team introduce the Ho Lee Duck, a succulent addition to the menu which undergoes a days-long marination and preparation process. Available in limited quantities, the dish expands the restaurant’s signature roast meats selection, including crispy-skinned chicken and roast goose. Finally, a childhood favourite makes a celebrated appearance on the menu with Chef ArChan’s Steamed Razor Clams, a dish she reminisced about often while abroad, featuring fried and fermented garlic, soy and glass noodles.

The restaurant’s interiors have been reimagined by renowned designer Sean Dix, who has created a swanky, elegant dining room filled with an obsessive showcase of deep, rich tones with plush scarlet velvet wrap-around booths against walls canvassed with a traditional Chinese print repeated in dramatic fashion that wraps the room like one of Lin Dai’s skin-tight qipaos. Accentuated by flashy gold tones and reflective mirrors strategically placed throughout the sunken dining room, each mirror lends itself to creating an infinite loop, reflecting the past while simultaneously looking into the future, bouncing colour and light in all directions and inviting the guest to feel, that at any point they are completely immersed in the action of the restaurant. Solid mahogany wood tables are encircled by elegant, upholstered dining chairs and the walls are adorned with vintage wallpaper and artwork from some of the most celebrated Chinese artists including photographer Cang Xin, bringing a future-focused heritage to the space. The new Ho Lee Fook  is like a Shaw Brothers film set, and while the iconic waving lucky cats remain, the ‘good fortune’ in the Ho Lee Fook name now extends to an oversized golden fortune cookie sculpture welcoming guests at the entrance.

A swaggering, fancy and boisterous affair, the new Ho Lee Fook is set to offer that kind of punch-in-the-guts dining thrill the city has been missing. The restaurant is an homage to the past, the present and the future, all at once, powered by an instinct for sheer entertainment and balanced by an extremely focused, finessed passion for the city’s homegrown cuisine. Guests who descend the narrow staircase are to abandon all expectations and instead prepare themselves for the kind of chaotic yet extraordinary ride that has come to define the Ho Lee Fook experience.

Reservations open 14 December, can be made here.

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