If you've watched Top Chef Masters, you'd recognize the face of Susur Lee. Oh, and he just happens to be, like, one of the most famous chefs in all of Canada. So, when I was hosted on a press trip to Toronto last month, I was super excited that we were going to have a meal at Lee, his bustling King Street West joint, and, boy, did it not disappoint. Of all the things I ate in Toronto, this meal was one for the history books!
Our party of eight sat down in the gorgeous restaurant (think lots of bright jade tones and beautiful wood details) to a set menu of seven courses, but we were also treated to several other smaller courses throughout the delightful meal. I started off with a tableside sangria before diving into the incredible meal (yum!).
Up first, Lee's signature Singapore Slaw. The waiter told us that the menu has changed over the years, but that everyone would riot if this was taken off the menu. It has a whopping 19 ingredients and presented before the waiter hand tosses it before serving. It was a powerhouse of flavors and textures (so many crunchy goodness!), and it's easy to see why people are obsessed with it.
Next was a watermelon and avocado salad, something I'm familiar with making myself! This came with feta, olives, and mint as it should, but was dressed up with sesame crisps and a lovely dressing. Better yet: the melon was pickled to give it a twist. Several northerners at the table refused a bite, saying they don't like watermelon, until I convinced them that the pickling made it extra special...and then they, of course, loved it. Was definitely a great dish on a warm day.
For our third course, one of Lee's Top Chef Masters' award-winning dishes was served. The curry roasted chicken came topped with okra, mustard seed tomato jam, oven dried pineapple, and chili mint chutney. The chicken was moist and full of amazing curry spices, but the pineapple was my favorite part of this absolute stunning dish.
OK, so real talk here. My mom is allergic to all seafood, so I didn't have much growing up besides some canned tuna. I got into sushi in high school and have slowly made my way into loving all different types of seafood (my boyfriend is pescetarian--oh, the irony!), but shrimp has NEVER been one of my favorites. Like, ever. Never. But, I always try it, just to be sure. Lee's "luckee" shrimp cheung fun was SO incredibly delicious (rice noodles with green beans, myoga and scallion pesto, soya broth, and Thai basil), that I had THREE. It was maybe the best part of the whole meal, which is saying something huge because everything was absolute perfection. Just look at those beauties!
To round out our savory courses, we enjoyed a cheeseburger spring roll, which was basically like if a burger had sex with a lettuce wrap with Chinese flavors. It was super fun to eat with its many layers and textures. We also noshed on a slow-braised beef with chived sour cream (whoa!), crispy shallots, and potato leek puree. Both dishes were excellent but couldn't quite compare to the absolute deliciousness that preceded them.
The absolute last course was a trio of sweets, which weren't listed on the menu, so I don't quite remember them. There was some sort of chocolate thing, a lychee thing, and...something else, but prior to the last dishes, Lee himself came out to say hello to everyone and shake hands (fun fact: as each person was introduced and mentioned where they were from, he told a cute anecdote about his time in each city--except Austin, which he hasn't been to but has heard lots of wonderful things and even rattled off a few eateries he's known about). He was super down-to-earth and very nice. He brought with him a pre-dessert sweet of strawberries (super fresh and in season during my stay in Canada) with some of his ice wine syrup, a dollop of whipped cream, and edible flowers. It was...gosh, how else can I keep saying breathtaking?!
After our 3.5 hour meal (seriously!), we left the restaurant stuffed and super happy, as the eatery was being bombarded by a sea of people. I highly recommend grabbing reservations for as soon as you know you'll be visiting the Great White North, y'all! It was so worth it.
Disclaimer: Meal was provided.