Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine's Day: A Phenomenal Meal At Lee Lounge!

I wasn't sure where we were going for Valentine's was going to be a surprise! But I had a sneaking suspicion when by chance, I found Susur on twitter last weekend, and noticed that Lee Lounge was going to be open for the 14th, and I was right! Arriving at Lee, we quickly discovered Lee Lounge was really an extension of the always popular Lee, breaking through the East wall of the existing restaurant into a more laid back and open lounge/restaurant area. A case of mismatched expectations, we thought Lee Lounge would be a totally different restaurant like Susur and Madeline's had been in the past, but it actually shares the Lee menu. To be fair, we've always really liked Lee, it just wasn't what we were expecting for whatever reason. We were excited to see Susur in the house and knew we'd have a good meal ahead! There is a refreshed menu, which still boasts favourites like the Singapore slaw, braised beef, cod, orzo and others, but with some new items we were eager to try. Lee was also featuring a "double happiness" Valentine's special menu. We ultimately ended up with a phenomenal feast, a party for our pallets, and one of the best meals we've had in a long time. Susur, we've missed you!

We started with half a dozen oysters from the Valentine's feature menu, topped with a bit of salted chili, shallots and calamansi lime. It added just a hint of flavour to enhance the delicious oysters. And we were on our way for the food adventure! Next came something from the Lee menu, spicy tofu served on a thick honey glaze, coated with a secret mixed spice, aptly named "golden dust" and topped with mushroom and pepper compote. This tofu was AMAZING! You may read a lot of "amazing" in this post, but the tofu was one of the most surprising and enjoyable dishes we had all night. The firm tofu cubes was just loaded with flavour, and not actually too spicy. Every bite was exciting!

Then came the seared diver scallops, also from the regular menu. They were gigantic, seared just right of course, and boasted a familiar old school dim sum flavour while not being traditional at all. I can't tell you exactly what that familiar flavour was, but we felt like the scallops really embodied "modern" Chinese food with traditional influences. No one integrates flavours quite like Susur. We also had the peking duck from e Valentine's menu... served with a deliciously light foie gras mousse. This dish was so intricate and detailed, from the delicate rice wraps, to the exceptionally tender (and plentiful) duck, to the assortment of cucumbers, green onion and persimmon strips that accompanied. It was a fun course, making our fancy little duck wraps and topping it with foie gras, you really can't go wrong. It was light and just enhanced the taste perfectly! Could our meal get any betterr??

The answer is yes. Next came a new addition to the Lee menu, Susur's dish from Top Chef masters, where he scored the highest score on the show: green curry chicken with chili mint chutney and sun fried tomato jam. I don't exactly remember the episode to recall the judge's reactions, but simply this dish was WOW! I was expecting some normal curry dish (sauce like) with chicken; but instead, was served breaded chicken with a unique infusion of green curry flavour accented with other great Thai flavours scents. It tasted so amazing I felt obligated to tell the couple next to us they had to order it (they were already spying on our dishes, I might as well!). This is a MUST-HAVE if you are stopping by Lee, no over-rated dish here.

Needless to say, we were pretty full by the time we got through our dishes, but couldn't possibly pass up dessert. We had the combo platter with chocolate lava cake (always good and a favourite on the menu) with black sticky rice pudding (black barley), and also the new French and Chinese tong-yuen (glutinous rice balls filled with sesame, nuts and other goodies) served on individual spoons. Sooo good and totally worth stuffing our already stuffed bellies.

Lee did not disappoint us this Valentine's Day! We have found some V-Day menus to be sub-par in the past, but Lee's renewed menu along with the new, more luxe and spacious Lee Lounge was definitely a treat for us. Definitely one of the best meals we've had this year! Please stop by and eat the green curry chicken, the tofu and the tong yuen! My one recommendation for Lee Lounge is they need a bigger assortment of cocktails to live up to the lounge name :)

Lee/Lee Lounge
603 King Street West

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