Toronto has just received a culinary gift that has elevated its dining scene. Celebrity chef and TikTok sensation, Susur Lee’s recently opened, or should I say re-opened restaurant, aptly named “Lee”, is a stunning stage for his equally impressive skills in the kitchen.
From the moment you step into 497 Richmond Street West (part of the Water Works building), you are warmly greeted by an atmosphere that perfectly blends elegance and modernity. Designed by “Future Design firm” the interior decor is a testament to Lee’s creative genius, with sleek lines, warm natural hues, sophistication, and comfort. Susur told me the restaurant was created from the ground up with so much attention to detail. The large space can seat up to 205 guests between the indoor, outdoor, and private dining spaces. Clever use of drapery can also create private areas. There are two levels, the upper is carpeted, the lower has herringbone wooden floors, and a bar with beautifully embroidered stools. The ceilings are high, and very futuristic light fixtures hang from above. You can tell a lot of thought went into the sound system and the use of soundproofing materials because even though there seem to be a lot of hard surfaces, you can hear the lovely background music and still have a conversation. I liked the mix of leather, textured fabrics, stones, and wood mill work. The ambiance strikes the perfect balance between sophistication and comfort.
The menu at Lee is a culinary journey that pays homage to Chef Lee’s Asian heritage while embracing diverse flavours from around the globe. Each dish has a beautiful presentation and is crafted to tantalize the senses with his symphony of flavours and textures. There are so many standout dishes and the menu reads beautifully. He is still making his signature slaw with 24 ingredients in a salted plum dressing, and that is great for sharing. Another standout is the cheeseburger spring roll, filled with AAA Angus beef, aged cheddar, and chipotle mayo in a lettuce wrap with a side of crispy double-smoked bacon. It is a little messy to eat but worth the effort. The Luckee Shrimp Cheung Fun is the chef’s take on a classic dim sum dish with scallion pesto and superior soya jus. Another good choice was the Chiang Mai orzo pad Thai, with lobster and wild red shrimp, covered in an egg crepe. For dessert the French and Chinese Tong Yuen, a French and Chinese-inspired warm chocolate rice dumpling with blueberries was excellent, trust me. I can’t wait to go back and try the chicken dumplings, and the BBQ duck. Just remember the portions are large and are ample for 2-4 guests. The cocktails were not overlooked with an exotic array to choose from. Plus there is a popular sangria cart making the rounds. Of course, there is a global wine list, sake, and beer as well.
The service was at a high level, and I always appreciate new silverware, and dishes for each course. The tables were also kept immaculate. You can tell there was great staff training here.
In a city known for its cultural diversity, Susur Lee stands out as a shining star. It’s a place where innovation, tradition, and his passion come together to create a memorable dining experience. Lee is a remarkable addition to Toronto’s dining scene.