Sherman's Food Adventures: Lee Yuen

Lee Yuen

I've said it before and I'll say it again...  Considering the large Asian population in Surrey, it is a complete mystery that there are so few good Dim Sum spots around.  Actually, let's take it a step further and just say there is a lack of authentic and good Chinese restaurants period.  Lately, it has been moving in the right direction with Neptune, Chongqing and Happiness setting up shop in various parts of Surrey.  One might debate how good the aforementioned restaurants are on the Chinese food continuum, but let's just say it is a start.  However, for this food adventure, we visited an oldie in Lee Yuen near Guildford.  Sure, it ain't the sexiest restaurant, but prices are reasonable and it isn't merely a sweet & sour shop.

To start things off, we got the Shrimp Rice Noodle Roll.  On appearances alone, the rice noodle roll looked legit.  Generally it was good with elasticity where the rice noodle was only a touch thick and doughy.  Inside, the ample amount of shrimp were large and had a nice meaty snap.  They were not seasoned enough though, but the sweetened soy did the flavouring.  Next, we had the Sliced Fish Congee which was as photogenic as popcorn ceiling.  However, it was decently thick and had a very mild taste.  We actually enjoyed this as many restaurants put far too much MSG into their congee.  There was a good amount of flaky fish which made the entire thing hearty.

After that, everything showed up including the Shrimp Spring Rolls.  These were on point with a crunchy while not dense exterior that was easy on the oil.  Inside, the shrimp filling was buttery with a moist snap.  It was well-seasoned too with plenty of garlicky goodness.  Since we got all of our steamed items altogether, it was hard to decide which one to tackle first.  For some inexplicable reason, I tried the Bean Curd Skin Roll before the ha gau.  It wasn't a bad decision though as the filling was loose with a good mix of veggies.  It kept things bright and light.  On the exterior, the fried bean curd skin was tender with a light chewiness.  

Okay, right after that, I got to the Ha Gau (Shrimp Dumplings) and Siu Mai (Pork & Shrimp Dumplings).  As ha gau go, this one was pretty average at best.  The thick and doughy dumpling skin was pretty wet which created a strange texture.  Inside, the shrimp mixture was far too fatty and loose where the chunks of pork fat was too evident.  On the the positive side, the shrimp did taste good and had a nice texture.  As for the siu mai, it consisted of big and meaty chunks of pork.  There was an inconsistent bounce texture where some pieces were rather chewy but still ultimately tender.  Flavours were balanced including good hits of shrimp and shiitake mushroom.

Onto some offal action, we had the Steamed Tendon and Tripe.   This was a fair portion of tender chunks of tendon that retained their shape.  I would say they weren't overly soft, but my personal preference is for a bit of resistance anyways.  As for the tripe, they were soft with an appealing chewiness.  There was not too much gaminess which meant they were rinsed properly.  There was a good balance of flavours as well.   The same could be said about the Phoenix Talons (Chicken Feet) where the sweet, salty and garlicky elements were in harmony with a touch of spice.  Texturally, the chicken feet were okay with tender skin and soft cartilage.  They weren't plump per se, but decent nonetheless.

Our last two items consisted of Steamed Pork Spareribs and Beef Meatballs.  The well-portioned spareribs exhibited the classic bounce texture where the meat was also tender.  It was still meaty though with a good chewiness.  There was more than enough seasoning and garlickiness to go around without being salty.  As for the meatballs, they were tender, but too soft.  In fact, I would go as far as saying they were mushy.  They did taste okay with a balanced salty and sweetness.  However, they overdid it with the cilantro as it was rather overpowering.  Overall, we enjoyed the Dim Sum service despite some obvious execution issues.  We realized that we were in Surrey and there are not many options, but for the price, Lee Yuen is serviceable.

The Good:
- Serviceable
- Well-priced
- Well-portioned

The Bad:
- Some items need work
- Service needs work
- The decor needs even more work

2 comments:

duncan fernie said...

Sherman
There is a new restaurant opening in South Surrey in the old location of the Pantry on 152nd (& about 18th I believe)
It is also called Lee Yuen so it could be another branch
They are still working on it but there signs posted touting that they are going to serve dim sum.
Also drove by Sal y Limon in South Surrey tonight and it is looking close to opening.
Close to that the new Afghan Kitchen was amazing
Cheers

Sherman Chan said...

@Duncan Thanks for the info! Love to see things are opening up in Surrey!