Lee Ho Fook’s Victor Liong is shaking up Melbourne’s café scene with breakfast congee, noodle soup and fried chicken
UPDATE: Lawyers, Guns and Money will close on Friday July 29. Word is that chef Victor Liong will re-open later this year in a new CBD location.
In many parts of Asia, from China to Indonesia, congee is the ultimate comfort food. The rice porridge, often cooked with chicken stock, is a dish you’d ask your grandma to cook for you when you’re sick. Judging by the tummy-soothing wholesomeness of the congee at Lawyers, Guns and Money, the chef and owner Victor Liong (also of Lee Ho Fook) may have just earned himself the honorary title of the Chinese grandma you miss or never had.
Liong recently went on record to say “I wanted to offer something different, not another fucking smashed avo and single origin coffee”. So instead of an eggs and sides situation, you’ll get a congee (about the consistence of oatmeal porridge, infused with a pleasant chicken soup flavour) with your choice of traditional Chinese toppings. Be bold and try the jelly-like chopped century egg, which adds a pleasant saltiness to the dish, along with pieces of youtiao (fried bread), which you’ll use to sop up the congee. Pair this with the Vietnamese style coffee using Trung Nguyen (Vietnam’s Nescafé), served with condensed milk or evaporated milk on the side.
Where Lee Ho Fook champions the Chinese banquet, Lawyers, Guns and Money (also named after a Warren Zevon rock track from the ‘70s) is a much more casual affair. Comfort food typical to mainland China is the go here, and like many Asian cuisines, there’s less of a divide between the food you’d eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We wager that you’ll quickly get used to eating Taiwanese-style beef noodle soup for breakfast, which comes with fall-apart braised beef chunks and an aromatic broth made from the braising liquid.
Spicy Chongqing-style fried chicken wings make for a tastebud-awakening mid-week lunch: the crisp light batter gets added crunch and flavour with flash-fried garlic, whole dried chilli and peppercorn (you can hide the oily evidence afterwards with the wet towels provided on every table). Our tip: ask for the side dish of silky, spicy braised eggplants to come as a main, paired with a steaming bowl of rice.
Right now, Lawyers, Guns and Money is open only on weekdays, and service is suitably fast and helpful for the predominantly office-bound clientele. Liong got the kitchen up and running three days after he received the keys to the premises, and two months after opening, the décor, with its dark ceilings and cluster of red lanterns on the wall, hasn’t changed much. But where there is a lack of on-trend furnishings, Liong makes up in giving Melbourne the chance to experience a different, and no less delicious, kind of comforting breakfast food.
|Venue name:||Lawyers, Guns and Money (closed)||Contact:|
505 Little Collins St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 7am-3pm, Thu-Fri 5-10pm|