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Hot, but is it worth the hype?

There's a self-conscious swagger here, which occasionally lets it down. Food leans heavily on salt and sweet. Sometimes it's just plain sweet.

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By Larissa Dubecki

I really think it's time we put away the rivalry and accept that Sydney and Melbourne are the two magnetic poles of Australian dining, bouncing chefs and restaurateurs back and forth between their bi-city business interests. Just the past few months have seen Stokehouse joining MoVida in Sin City and Paul Wilson doing his thing at Icebergs while its owner Maurice Terzini plots his Melbourne comeback at Comme. Exhausting, non? The payoff is that along with clocking up the frequent flyer points, Australia's answer to those US east coast-west coast sophisticates are propagating a ''we'll have what they're having'' mentality.

There has been, I confess, a degree of envy watching Sydney embrace the Asian new school with the likes of Ms G's and Mr Wong, which in their turn hitched a ride on the pioneering Billy Kwong. Envy at the slicked-up take on the crash of Honkers and the cool of the Asian youthquake, but the green-eyed monster was kept at bay by the certainty it was only a matter of time before we got our own. Our own arrives thanks to Peter Bartholomew and David Mackintosh of MoVida and Pei Modern fame. Not so much restaurateurs as the vision guys who spy deals, put them together and leave others to run the show. They did it recently with Rosa's Kitchen and they've done it again at Lee Ho Fook, cutting in former Marque and Mr Wong sous chef Victor Liong to lure him south, and stumping up more dash than cash for a makeover of the former Boire.

It's a simple refurb of the tight 45-seater, with a bar now taking up a slice of the floor action, a panda etched on to the smoked-glass front window, and a swirly two-tone charcoal and white paint job that could be a depiction of Beijing smog.