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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Hao’s Oriental Grill Bar - 370 Victoria Street, Richmond VIC 3121

This week saw us halt our progress down Victoria Street in order to tick the elusive Hao’s Oriental Grill Bar off our list. Despite being the third restaurant on the seemingly endless street we had yet to experience their unique brand of Chinese/Korean cuisine thanks to the fact that they are always closed on a Wednesday night (our regularly scheduled meeting time). However, last Tuesday with the end of footy season, the poor health of Yask’s piano teacher and the alignment of Saturn’s third moon with Jupiter, we were finally able to see how good, Hao’s grill was, and we weren’t disappointed!

With an extensive menu to choose from, the opportunity to grill our own meat with China’s top-40 continuously playing in the background, had the night’s prospects looking good! However the plethora of unknown and at times intimidating options presented us with something of a dilemma. Eventually we elected to start relatively simply with a duo of beans; a serve of salted green soybeans as well as some grilled green beans. The soybeans, not too dissimilar to the salty Japanese starter edamame, were deliciously morish and perfectly salted with a touch of ginger flavouring, while the charred green beans accompanied with a mild chilli sauce were no less tasty. Our entrée’s also included a serve of seafood and veg dumplings as well as the house specialty lamb ribs. The small dumplings where reminiscent of an old yum cha favourite, prawn and chive, which was in no way disappointing. The lamb ribs on the other hand despite being initially lauded for their unique taste and abundance of flavour were ultimately left unfinished. They were undeniably well marinated in a mix of Chinese and almost Indian spices but the fatty meat proved to be a bit rich for our taste.

Having often been condemned for being overly critical in previous reviews, the grilling of our own meat for main course gave us the perfect opportunity to put our money where our mouth is and then put food where our money is… our mouths. Either way, if we overcooked and subsequently ruined the meal we’d have no one to blame but ourselves. We settled on a thinly-sliced selection of pork belly and two types of marinated beef with a side of kim-chi fried rice. After an admittedly over conservative first batch which came out a little tough, we seemed to hit our straps and with the assistance of liberal amounts of the house blend of chilli and cumin sprinkled on top, we were firing out some quality meat in no time. The simply marinated meat was perfectly assisted by a subtle peanut type sauce as well as the aforementioned spices. The fried rice also didn’t disappoint with generous amounts of cabbage and a strong kim-chi flavour throughout it, rounded out the meal perfectly. The only significant downside to the night, which we elected not to judge on because it was more a case of one of us going rouge rather than any fault of the restaurant was when Marge went solo and decided to order a round of dried fish skin skewers. Who would’ve thought that something so deliciously named could prove so bad? (Aside from Yask and Dizz) The end result was something of a pungent fish jerky that’s off putting smell was only matched by its leathery texture.

Fish jerky aside though, Hao’s grill proved to be a resounding success and a barrel of hands on fun!

Entree 14/20
Main 16/20
Service 3/5
Value 3.5/5 ($76)

Total: 36.5/50

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