If you’re looking for a tapas restaurant on King West and have got money to spend, Lee is worth checking out.
As it’s a tapas restaurant, all the dishes here are meant for sharing. Servers will recommend around 2 dishes per person. Last time I was here (see my post here), we ordered 4 dishes between the two of us and found it to be a little too much. This time around, I smartened up and came with a few more people…
We started with the Singaporean-Style Slaw ($20), a must-order at Lee. You have the option of adding salmon sashimi (extra $8) or tuna sashimi ($12) but I think I prefer it without protein. The slaw is made up of 19 different ingredients, which the server will recite as they are mixing it all up at the table. It’s a perfect blend of savoury, sweetness and crunch. If you’re going to order one thing here, this has got to be it!
Next up was the Mexican Goat Cheese Tart – handmade puff pastry, black olive, tomato, red pepper, eggplant, jalapeno, tomatillo ($15). It seemed a little out of place for an Asian-influenced restaurant but it was surprisingly delicious. However, given what it was, $15 was a little steep.
We also ordered the Beef Carpaccio – crispy taro, pickled beans, beets, parmesan, argan oil ($19). The thinly sliced beef was sitting on top of a crispy taro dome. The meat was fresh and the addition of the taro gave it all a nice crunch. Overall, it was a decent carpaccio but it’s probably not something I’d order again.
From the seafood section of the menu, we ordered the Caramelized Black Cod – Cantonese preserves, miso mustard, dim sum and turnip cake ($29). The dish consisted of one small piece of perfectly cooked fish. I really enjoyed the miso mustard which was quite mild in flavour. The fish was sitting on top of a piece of turnip cake which I felt was a little on the mushy side. If it was a little crispy, it would’ve contrasted the smooth, buttery fish nicely.
Unlike the small portions of all the other dishes, the Assam Thai Satay – chicken, shrimp and beef satay with chili mint, peanut sauce and spicy mango salad ($25) was quite substantial in comparison. All the meat was well cooked and the three different sauces which accompanied the skewers were quite enjoyable. My favourite was the classic peanut sauce with the beef satay.
We couldn’t leave without trying the Top Chef Green Curry Chicken – sweet pea polenta, butter almondine, spiced tomato jam, dried pineapple, chili mint ($28), which was a Top Chef award winning dish. If you’ve never seen the dish on tv, the curry isn’t at all what you’d expect from a curry. Instead of it being served in a bowl like a stew, it’s more of a modern take on a curry.
It consisted of four large pieces of moist chicken rolled into a ball, all sitting in a shallow pool of curry. It had quite a few different components with the polenta, butter almondine, tomato jam and all. It all tasted fine…but it just didn’t blow me away.
For another meat dish, we tried the Rack of Lamb Thailandaise – banana fritter, tomato, lentil, cumin, chili mint, carrot cardamom chutney ($29). Like all the other meat dishes we’ve tried, the meat was cooked perfectly (medium rare). The lamb was sitting on a bed of lentils, which I’m not usually a fan of…but the whole dish was just working for me. It’s just too bad the meat came out a little on the cold side.
For some carbs, we ordered the Shanghai Shrimp & Scallop Stir-fry Noodles – spicy XO sauce with summer vegetables ($28). It turned out to be the most disappointing dish of the evening. There was nothing particularly bad about the dish but we could’ve easily gone to a Chinese restaurant a few blocks away in Chinatown and gotten something just as good for half the price. It’s definitely not something I’d order again.
The last dish we tried was the Peking & Char Sui Duck – Beijing duck garnish, steamed pancake, foie gras pate ($29), a high-end take on the peking duck dish.
The duck breast was incredibly moist and the foie gras pate (my favourite part of it all) gave our little wraps a rich creaminess. To contrast it all, we were provided with pieces of fried bean curd which added a nice crunch. It was a great dish but don’t expect a traditional peking duck dish.
Overall, the food at Lee is pretty solid. However, given the high price tag and Susur’s high profile, I was hoping for a meal that would blow me away. It didn’t. So, yes, it’s a great spot for Asian-influenced tapas but be prepared to pay a pretty penny.
At a glance:
• Serving up Asian-influenced tapas
• Food is solid but the prices are on the high side
• Restaurant of Susur Lee
• Located on King West
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3.5 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars