ON THE NORTH-EAST COAST OF VICTORIA THERE'S
A RICE NOODLE RESTAURANT TRAVELLERS CLAIM
IS THE NEXT BEST THING TO A TRIP TO CHINA .
Lucy's was Mallacoota's best-kept secret. Then
word spread that this small restaurant on Victoria 's remote north-east coast
was serving some of the best and most authentic rice noodle dishes this
side of China . Owners Lucy and Tony Wood say that in the 18 months
since they opened; the number of travellers who detour the 20 kilometres
from the Princes Highway to seek them out is steadily increasing.
Lucy's popularity is hardly surprising. "We're both passionate about
doing something that is 100 per cent authentic and we saw the need for
food that was not too expensive but fresh and wholesome," Tony says.
"We are so authentic that when we make our own noodles every
morning we start with grinding our rice," adds Chinese-born Lucy.
Rather than rely on finding the right produce in their isolated location,
they grow all the vegetables and herbs required. The
hydroponic garden out the back resembles a mini market
garden , filled with rows of succulent Asian greens. Choy
sum , pak choy , bok choy and wombok grow alongside
herbs such as Chinese basil, garlic chives and shallots.
These ingredients are married in bowls of noodles with
pork , chicken, beef, tofu, prawns or local abalone.
"We grow 15 different herbs and spices, and we have
to buy in only occasionally," Lucy says, adding that her
grandmother and mother, who live nearby in
Mallacoota, supply coriander and chilli sauce-
A friend taught Lucy to make traditional rice
noodles . "We go to China every year," Tony explains,
" but this time we had to stay six months for Lucy to
learn how to make the noodles properly." They
imported a noodle-making machine from China and
use Thai rice, as Australian varieties are too sticky.
Lucy was no stranger to cooking Chinese cuisine,
having previously run her own restaurant, Seven Star
Teahouse, in Nanning in the province of Guangxi .
When she travelled to Australia in 1999 she met Tony ,
a former farmer, in Sydney . "I went back to China with
Lucy and helped her in the restaurant for a while," he says.
Back in Australia they searched for somewhere to settle. "We went
to Cooktown and back looking for a place - and we found it in
Mallacoota," Tony says. "'We've got wilderness all round us, no traffic
lights ... and it's unique." Their first enterprise was a video shop and
second-hand store but now the restaurant, with its lively pink,
lime-green and black decor, occupies the front of the building.
Lucy's is open for breakfast, when more Western fare is on offer.
"We do bacon-and-eggs for breakfast, and coffee - and we'll be doing
pastries soon, too," Lucy says. Yet the Woods remain committed to Chinene cusine . Says Tony :
"On our last trip to China we learnt how to do Peking Duck from
an old master out in the farmlands" You get the
feeling that it won't be long before Peking duck is also on the menu.
Lucy's Homemade Rice Noodles is at 64 Maurice Avenue ,
Mallacoota Victoria . (03) 5158 466
Country Style Magazine May 2009
last images courtesy Country Style magazine