Sherman's Food Adventures: Lee Garden

Lee Garden

My original Dim Sum post for Lee Garden was way back when it first opened up shop.  Then it closed shop for some strange reason and didn't reopen for a month.  We returned a few times after that, but I never felt the need to do a re-visit post until now.  Okay, that would only imply one of two things - the food was appreciably better or appreciably worse.  Oh and a third thing too...  No more material to post.  LOL...  Well in this case, I had to post this because the food wasn't impressive the last 2 visits (I guess you don't have to read on if you are lazy).

So despite my aforementioned sentiment, the place still gets its business and we were lucky to snag a table on a Saturday morning.  We started with the smallest Shrimp Spring Rolls I've ever seen.  Were they trying to emulate those new Tostitos "rolled" nacho chips?  Well, they were super-crunchy as a result (and not greasy either).  However, with such as small roll, the chance in seeing any large pieces of shrimp were low.  Consequently, we found only little bits and soft mousse which was not texturally appealing.  It was well-seasoned though.  The BBQ Pork Pastries were also not very good as the pastry itself was too wet and doughy.  I definitely could taste the lard, but it also wasn't flaky (so not worth the fat content!).  Inside, the BBQ pork was a bit chewy, yet nicely sauced with a balance of sweet and savoury notes.

Onto a dish that my son insisted we order, the Donut Rice Noodle Roll, was also a disappointment.  Not only was there an inordinate amount of green onion on the bottom side of the roll, the rice noodle was too soft and easily ripped apart.  Why do they put so much green onion, I can never understand...  It is supposed to accent the dish, not dominate it.  The donut was probably the worst part as it wasn't crispy at all as well as being very doughy and dense.  On the other hand, the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll was appreciably better.  We found the noodle to be more elastic having an appealing chew while being soft and moist at the same time.  Despite being well-seasoned and exhibiting a meaty snap, the shrimp were far too small to be impactful.

Interestingly, one of the better items was the Sui Mai as it consisted of everything that could be good about the dumpling.  First of all, the pork was a mix of actual chunks and processed pork that varied the textures from meaty to bouncy.  Then there was bits of crunchy shrimp intermingling with large chunks of shiitake mushroom.  All of that combined for a good balance of flavours and textures.  As for its counterpart, the Haw Gow was not as impressive.  Despite sporting a decent dumpling skin that was moderately thick and chewy, the filling featured too much shrimp mousse for my liking.  It got in the way of the actual cold-water shrimp textures.  There was also a bit too much sesame oil (even though I love sesame oil).

Another fail was the Phoenix Talons (or steamed chicken feet) as it didn't look promising as it hit the table.  It was as if they didn't fry them long enough prior to steaming.  That created a texture that was more fatty than anything else.  Underneath the melting skin, the cartilage and fat was also too soft.  The only thing going for the dish was the garlicky sweet flavour.  Soft was the operative word for the Tripe and Tendon as well.  We liked how it was ample in portion size, but the tripe was far too mushy.  It no longer had much of a chew, however, the tendon was the opposite being too hard.  Flavour wasn't an issue though as it was well-seasoned with garlic, salt and sugar.

When the Steamed Pork Spareribs showed up, it looked like half of it was missing.  When you can see more pumpkin than sparerib, there is an issue.  Look at it!  Did they run out or something and try to eek out one more dish???  Well, even for the ribs that were present, they were too chewy for our liking.  Furthermore, it was a mix of good rib pieces and no-meat cartilage pieces (which meant even less in this case).  There was a good amount of garlickiness though.  Sadly, the Beef Meatballs were also not very good.  They were pale and completely devoid of the desired textures.  It was too soft and mushy while being bland at the same time.

Okay, here we go with the Xiao Long Bao in a non-Shanghainese restaurant.  Yes, we had tempered expectations and yes they were pretty typical of a Cantonese version.  The skin was somewhat thick on the top while being chewy.  There was no soup to be found, but the meat was okay though.  We ended off with the Egg Tarts and they were decent.  The shell was fairly flaky albeit doughy in spots.  Silky and light, the custard filling was not overly sweet.  Despite the decent finish to the meal with the egg tarts, we found the dim sum to be average at Lee Garden.  To be fair, this was based on 3 re-visits that were not far apart.  But the one thing that they have going for them is there is not a whole lot of competition in the area.

The Good:
- Spacious and comfy dining room
- Okay service when you can get it

The Bad:
- Below average Dim Sum
- Slow service and food expedition