Where Melbourne - - Dining - BY PETER MCBREARTY

RENOWNED MELBOURNE CHEF and restau­ra­teur An­drew Mc­connell is re­garded by many in the in­dus­try as hav­ing been blessed a Mi­das touch when it comes to en­vis­ag­ing and launch­ing highly an­tic­i­pated and ex­cep­tion­ally suc­cess­ful din­ing venues. Lo­cated in Fitzroy within the ven­er­a­ble sur­rounds of The Builders Arms Ho­tel, ris­ing from the space pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied by Moon Un­der Wa­ter and the bistro—came Ricky & Pinky.

Clev­erly re­tain­ing the main struc­ture of a typ­i­cally his­toric Fitzroy pub, along with smaller ta­bles around the bar area, where drinks and a bar menu can be en­joyed, Ricky & Pinky also de­liv­ers a stylish, ar­chi­tec­turally de­signed open plan in­te­rior, fea­tur­ing Lazy Su­sans and live seafood tanks. Staff are friendly and more than happy to ex­plain the var­i­ous dishes, and equally com­fort­able rec­om­mend­ing sug­ges­tions from the im­pres­sive wine list and the cor­re­spond­ing ar­ray of beers and cock­tails on of­fer. Chef Ar­chan Chan’s Hong Kong her­itage, along with An­drew Mc­connell’s own long ex­pe­ri­ence in the re­gion, en­sures the au­then­tic­ity of the Hong Kong style dishes on the menu, and in turn also the pop­u­lar­ity of the yum cha, which is avail­able dur­ing lunchtime Fri­day to Sun­day.

The yum cha menu in­cludes dishes such as crispy-spiced quail, hon­ey­comb tripe with fer­mented chilli, Pek­ing duck spring rolls, steamed beef bao with chilli sauce, and also pork ribs with black bean and gar­lic. Vege­tar­i­ans are well catered for with sim­i­larly en­tic­ing morsels such as the shi­itake and spinach dumplings with spiced vine­gar, and a de­cep­tively sim­ple but en­tirely de­li­cious salad of smashed cu­cum­ber and radishes with fra­grant chilli oil and mar­i­nated black fun­gus with aged vine­gar. Din­ers are also able to se­lect from a range of rice, noo­dles and veg­eta­bles, in­clud­ing steamed rolled rice noo­dles with Chi­nese donut and pork floss, or stir-fried baby pan choy with black bean sauce. How­ever, the yum cha op­tions ex­tend still fur­ther with roast meats such as Char Siu pork, a half Chi­nese roast duck with prune hoi sin sauce, or roast pork belly with crack­ling. For any­one find­ing them­selves still able to ac­com­mo­date dessert, steamed cus­tard buns, fried sesame balls, a bowl of fresh ly­chees, or even over­sized XL for­tu­nate cook­ies pro­vide the per­fect fi­nale.

The din­ner menu at Ricky & Pinky is equally en­joy­able, and din­ers may start with some del­i­cately flavoured Moon­light Flat Oys­ters with a bonito vinai­grette, or per­haps the shred­ded cab­bage with yuzu kosho may­on­naise and More­ton Bay bugs, be­fore mov­ing on to larger dishes such as the pan fried whole floun­der with Gui Lin chilli sauce, pick­led gin­ger and co­rian­der, the Straw­berry clams and XO sauce with fried donuts, or the shred­ded cumin lamb with crispy chilli, cu­cum­ber pickle and steamed bao. Desserts in­clude steamed gin­ger cus­tard with rice flakes, co­conut, ly­chee granita and ap­ple, or the ex­cel­lent Banana semifreddo with choco­late caramel and crisp bat­ter. For those un­able to stay and en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of din­ing at Ricky & Pinky all is not lost, as some of their dishes are avail­able to take away.

Ricky & Pinky, 211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. 9417 7700. builder­sarmshotel.com.au/bar-bistro/

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