January 15, 2014

Birthday Dinner #2: Lee

Welcome back to my Birthday Dinner Series - I know my birthday was back in October but cut me some slack okay? I'm a busy lady!
The second restaurant on my Birthday tour is a bit of a tradition between The Sok Sisters and my sister and I. We do a "Sisters Weekend" where we like to pamper ourselves over at Body Blitz and then walk over to Lee for dinner. Who doesn't love having a stranger rub them down and then stuffing your face with Asian Fusion?! Sounds like a pretty good date to me. The last time we were here, we got the tasting menu but this time around we opted for just ordering a la carte. 

Fun fact, I once told Susuer Lee my mom makes the best Pho and he told me Golden Turtle was his favourite - but that he's pretty sure my mom's was better. Obviously I didn't tell my mom cause it would have just gone straight to her head. 

Something you have to order when you get to Lee's is their famous Singapore Style Slaw ($20) - yes twenty bucks for a salad and the damn thing only serves two! Being the greedy fatties we are - we ordered two of them. On this occasion they threw tomatoes in there - which was unusual and the sauce was way too sweet - it normally has an amazing balance of sweet, sour, tangy, umami jazz going on but this particular time it just wasn't on point and we found it a little overdressed. We still devoured both salads - you don't waste a twenty dollar salad! But trust me, on the regular, this salad is bomb diggity.
Next was a Sok sister pick  - she has to have hot & sour soup ($13) every time it's on the menu. Unfortunately, this one wasn't too mind blowing. It was too acidic for me, kinda like it was over reduced. Two 'meh' dishes in a row? I was getting worried … Thankfully the next dish made up for the previous two. 

If you've never been to Lee before - they recommend you order a few dishes and eat family style, which is exactly what we did. So despite the first two dishes being a little lacklustre - we knew there were plenty of more plates coming! 
The Spice Crusted Diver Scallop ($26) - spiced Chinese sweet bean pesto, crispy bacon, squash purée and fresh grapefruit was exactly the type of flavours we love about Lee. Everything works so beautifully together and the scallops were cooked to perfection.  You can't imagine how a wedge of grapefruit can blow your mind when paired with a scallop. Everything was one harmonious bite - literally, there was four of us so I only devoured one scallop.
Dinner was definitely skyrocketing up hill after the scallops. The Wild King Garlic Shrimp ($29) was not only a wow factor when the server dropped this beauty in front of us - but it tasted just as great as it looked!
The shrimps came with spiced tomato jam, soya bean crumbs, pickled green papaya, mango, and a potato pea croquette. The shrimps were plump and juicy and all the flavours from the sour mangos  and the tomato jam played wonderfully together. I loved the playful presentation as well. 
The Hunanese Lobster Ravioli ($28) - spicy Hong Kong XO sauce & butternut squash purée was one of those nostalgic but... brand new dishes. It was a very humble bowl of dumplings - something you could easily order during dim sum but completely sophisticated and elevated. The ravioli was large and plump but unlike the other dishes - the flavours weren't completely over the top and eccentric. It was refreshing to enjoy something so familiar and comforting. 
Another dish I have to have when I'm here is the Peking & Char  Sui Duck ($29) It comes with steamed pancakes and foie gras pâté. Instead of Duck skin, you're given fried sheets of tofu. 
Saying I was disappointed they omitted the duck skin would be a bit of an understatement. The first time I had this I actually thought "WTF no skin? Send it back!

But my opinion quickly changed, the tofu skin is a phenomenal substitute. Trust me. It adds the perfect crunch factor and the pâté is super rich and creamy - absolutely divine rolled up in a pancake with the duck. The portion for this dish is surprisingly pretty decent as well! I could honestly eat this everyday. 
After all of that I still insisted on dessert - and when I say "insist" I  kicked and screamed till I got what I wanted … or something like that.
We ordered the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée ($12) - lemongrass, rhubarb, & gooseberry compote with a butterfly pastry. This one was exactly what I expected it to be - don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing but we still devoured every last morsel of it.
The second dessert was French & Chinese Tong Yuen ($12) - warm sweet rice dumpling and chocolate nougat. The presentation of this one was really fun and I mainly ordered it out of curiosity. It was light, and not too sweet - very typical Chinese dessert.
Lastly, the favourite of the table had to be the Mango & Passion Fruit Panna Cotta ($12) - passion fruit, pineapple granitée, sage & coconut.  This was my ideal dessert, fruity, not too sweet, and there was a nice bubbly playful texture to the whole thing. 

As usual, it was a wonderful experience and a grand way to celebrate another year older. Merci buckets to my sister and the Sok sisters for once again - spoiling me to bits!  It's not a meal we could indulge in everyday but it's a nice treat. The service is always spectacular and if you're lucky, you'll catch Susur Lee himself walking through the dining room.



Check out the other dinners in my Birthday Series : Birthday Dinner #00 | Birthday Dinner #01


Happy Eating!


Lee
603 King Street West
Toronto, On
www.susur.com/lee
Lee on Urbanspoon

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