Phúc Buddies

The Phuc Buddies, or happiness friends are just three guys committed to conquering Victoria Street, one restaurant at a time! With a healthy appetite and their patented five spring roll rating system they will once and for all answer the question on everybody’s lips. Who’s special fried rice is the most special? Who’s 5 spice quail warrants 5 stars? and who’s pho is unphogettable?

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Loi Loi - 364 Victoria Street, Richmond VIC 3121

On a night when anticipation and high expectations filled the air for the premiere of the new Batman movie, the Phuc Buddies bravely opted to forgo the hype and instead chose to see the much less heralded Spiderman film. This decision to shun mass appeal and guaranteed satisfaction pretty much set the trend for all the night’s decision making (and subsequent disappointment!).

Despite being surrounded by a wide array of tried and tested options, we were forced to move into uncharted waters when we stepped into Loi Loi’s restaurant, the second stop on our culinary journey down Victoria Street. Despite only hosting two occupied tables, the initial signs were promising as a full basket of prawn crackers was presented in front of us prompting warm memories of days gone by when their inclusion was a given rather than a point of difference. However, with an impending 9pm session and three healthy appetites to satisfy, we had little time to reminisce over the days gone by and instead turned our attention to the task at hand of ordering.

For entrée we played it relatively safe, Marge and Dizz went wonton soups, while Yask always the lone ranger went for a chicken and sweetcorn. While neither disappointed, the wonton was done very well without deviating far from tradition, whereas the chicken and sweetcorn appeared to have its own little Loi Loi’s signature touches resulting in a sweeter than usual end product. In addition to the soups we also agreed on the obligatory serve of prawn springrolls and a more speculative choice of beef in mint leaves. Sadly, the springrolls which are normally a crowd favourite and rarely let us down fell well and truly flat. Such was the level of our disappointment that Yask withdrew without contest or complaint when he was challenged for the last one. The beef in mint leaves on the other hand exceeded all our expectations; the moist filling had an abundance of flavour while the outside was crisp and fresh without being too oily.

Our choices for mains were a bit different than usual with each of them coming from Loi Loi’s special boards rather than the menu. Eventually, after little help from the lady running the place who could only offer us lemon chicken or salt and pepper squid as recommendations for ‘something different’. We decided on three dishes, a steamed chicken with ginger and soy, a bean curd and vegetable hotpot with vermicelli noodles and Prawns with XO sauce. Out of the three the clear standout was the steamed chicken beautifully surrounded by a ring of bok choy and swimming in a delicate soy and ginger sauce. Sadly though, the other two mains were not met with the same level of enthusiasm. While the amount of XO sauce spooned over numerous bowls of steamed rice was encouraging, it can no way diminish from the fact that at the meal’s end several prawns still remained untouched. With a firm ‘leave no soldiers behind’ mentality, our inability to consume the final few prawns was as damning a statement as any we could write about the dish. Conversely, the hotpot didn’t have a nice sauce to redeem it nor inedible prawns to condemn it rather it was overall just bland and uninteresting, with the overriding flavour appearing to come from the gas stove it was invariably cooked on. Yask summed it up when he described it as tasting ‘like a camp fire’.

Overall, like our choice to see Spiderman instead of Batman we experienced a couple of thrills throughout but were ultimately left disappointed and a bit bored. From our experience it’s probably safe to assume that ‘Loi Loi’ roughly translates to ‘so, so.’

Entrée 12.5/20
Main 11/20
Service 3.5/5
Value 2/5 ($91.50)

Total 29/50

The Amazing (amazingly unnecessary) Spiderman 2/5

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