Review of Luho, Crows Nest
As a Crows Nest local and a stay at home mum/food blogger, I am always having a sticky beak at the new openings in the hood. Luho has certainly made a splash with the Crowie folk and their vibrant, colourful dishes are all over Instagram so of course I am dying to try them out! They serve mod-Asian cuisine, taking inspiration from South East Asian classics, delivering some welcome excitement to the lower north shore.
I've got Mr 4yrs with me when I meet up with my girlfriend for lunch who also happens to be a Crows Nest local. Its such a great place to live because absolutely everything is in walking distance, from cafes to restaurants, to hair dressers to gyms. She has just moved back to Crowie after a few years stint living in Melbourne and I am excitedly catching her up on all the changes and new additions to the area. So it is quite apt that we are having lunch at one of the most popular new additions, Luho by chef Dennis Tan (formerly of Mama's Boi, which occupied the space previously). Drinks are the first order of business and they are cocktails, because, why not? #yolo The quandong spritz is complex with native Australian touches yet light and refreshing and the Little Luho Maid is right up my alley with sour, zingy hits from the lime and green papaya that send me absolutely gaga. Love me a zingy cocktail! #zingy
The dish that I have seen all over the #socials is their prawn wonton taco, served standing proud with a crispy fried wonton wrapper acting as the taco shell, tender prawn mixed through creamy mayo, sweet mango chilli and fresh coriander. I was nervous to try this because when a dish is so hyped up, I sometimes find myself being let down when I try the real thing- Bubble Tea, I'm looking at you! #yuck Not the case here, I can see why this is Luho's signature dish, its wonderful and well deserving of all the hype. It's creative, tasty, different and yet the flavours are familiar. Other highlights include the Turmeric Pork Skewers which are a flavoured and spiced pork mince, wrapped in a betel leaf and grilled. This eaten within a another wrap of fresh crunchy lettuce, picked carrot and daikon radish with a soy based sauce. It is divine! Such a mix, yet balance of flavours and textures. The only thing that I would have loved added on top is maybe some toasted peanuts? Gee I'm high maintenance! #diva We also love the Luho Open-Faced Crepe which is their take on a traditional Vietnamese Banh Xeo. This dish does have a 20 min wait time, because they are obviously cooked to order, and take some time, but the wait is so worth it! The pork and prawn combination is still there, but the pork component is jazzed up by using char siu pork and luscious dollops of coconut cream are dotted throughout. The Ginger Chicken Stir Fry and Vermicelli Salad Bowl and both perfectly nice but to us, nothing spectacular and we are happy to enjoy these at face value. Mr 4yrs is very happy with the vermicelli noodles though and almost finishes the entire bowl by himself!
Speaking of spectacular, that is how I would describe my favourite dish of the day: the Cauliflower. Now if you follow my blog, you know I am a fan of the humble cauliflower (see recipe for
). But this cauliflower is something else. It is braised in burnt butter for so long that while presented as an entire head, it simply collapses when touched. The florets are still intact though, with such a rich, luxurious feel not usually afforded to a vegetable. Underneath is a an umami filled eggplant jam peppered with almond crumbs, seeds and I'm detecting a slight hint of chilli. I ask our lovely waitress about this and she happily directs me onto the chef who very generously shows me the mix and poses for a quick snap.
“This is my favourite part of this whole food blogger gig. Experiencing new ideas, tasting the work of amazing chefs and taking those newfound techniques and flavour combinations home to try for my family. You can really see that the chefs at Luho are very passionate about what they create and it is utterly infectious and a pleasure to be around."
As usual we have ordered way more food than is humanly possible to eat, but this is no problem as I will be out in the evening and the leftovers will serve as dinner for hubby and the kids. The service has been fantastic during this meal from making sure Mr 4yrs was comfortable and providing a kids place setting, right down to wrapping up the leftovers in environmentally friendly packaging and giving me instructions on the best way to reheat each dish! Now THAT's service.
It's easy to see why Luho is so popular with tasty, accessible food, creative cocktails and killer service and vibe. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here and will definitely be back for girls dinners, date nights and lunches enjoying the breeze in the large outdoor dining area.
77 Willoughby Rd, Crows Nest
*I dined here as a guest of Luho and Wasamedia, but all opinions remain my own