Lee Restaurant on King West in Toronto

I spent my 26th birthday dinner with my sister at Susur Lee’s King West restaurant, a self titled joint, Lee. I had been wanting to eat here for ages but the magic that is time and place had not yet aligned. I’m glad that I did have the chance to wait it out as the space has recently been reopened with a funky lounge space. The name Lee has become synonymous with creative Asian cuisine and I have never heard anything but rave reviews from foody’s who have dined here. Each and every one of them seemed to chirp at me, “share the slaw.”

We walked into the Toronto restaurant just before 7pm and were happy to be quickly seated at what looked like the last free table. Amy sat in front of a mini bonsai tree and I was directly across from a large hanging Puffer fish. The lounge to the right was decked out with comfortable couches and a colourful bar top. The main Lee dining area to the left was filled to the brim with smug diners, many of which I saw were licking their plates clean with their fingers.

We ordered:

a pot of Mint Green Tea

Chickpea Sweet Onion Fritter

ginger mango minted  yogurt

Singaporean Slaw

Thai Satay (Chicken, Shrimp, Beef)

fresh mint chutney, peanut sauce, ginger flower sauce and spicy pineapple salad

Slow Braised Beef

sour cream, potato leek puree and crispy shallots

Amy and I were starving and devoured our first dish of crispy onion perfection. We both licked our plates clean…there is something about Lee’s sauces that make you feel as though they can’t be left sitting lonely on the plate. “We came to finish what we started,” rings in my ears. The restaurants flagship Singaporean slaw was fantastic, heaven, sweet plum and crunch of fried daikon. The server who placed it at our table listed the ingredients which must amount to over 30 or so. I felt like giving him a round of applause for simply memorizing its ingredients. It was at this moment when we started to munch on our salad that we both commented that the service at this restaurant was impeccable. Each dish is described by a knowledgeable wait staff. Several of the front of house continually walk around the dining room filling up each glass to the brim with water. I was barely ever half full. I asked for lemon wedges for my water and they removed the pits, which made me laugh as Meaghan Lamb is obsessed with quality service and would have appreciated the gesture. I actually had to stop eating my meal and text her, “OMG Lee’s is yum they pit the lemons you will love it here.”

After finishing off the huge salad we moved on to a simple plate of satay’s followed by a heavier slow braised beef dish. All dishes were fantastic although I wish the beef had a bit of punch to it, spice or smoke it was a bit of a bland finish. By 8pm as we were finishing up our last course the restaurant and lounge were full of the King West crowd, read: I’m 30 I’ve got money look at me, look at me. As we readied for our exit I couldn’t help but smile. I felt oddly patriotic that such a famous world chef, The Susur Lee has made so many Torontonians happy. As simple as a slaw.

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