Lee House - Korean Fried Chicken - Edmonton
Yesterday I had to attend to a number of errands and initially thought that I would drive down to Beaumont and try out Yeti based on my curiousity having been piqued by the Nepalese thread. I know absolutely zero about Nepalese cuisine but chuckled about the "abominable snowman" name.
I did not get out to the southeast but instead was in and around Old Strathcona. I have not had "Korean fried chicken" so googled the Lee House and made my way there. Turns out I probably have driven by it a hundred times without registering that it was there.
Typical family styled and operated small restaurant. Four or five tables occupied by 2's and 4's. Some scooping food out of frying pans on tabletop portable electrical burners, others looking to be eating hot pots of some sort and a couple of fellows who turned out to be going at what I suspected was the fried chicken and some rice.
In ambience and decor...or lack of same...it reminded me of the Happy Garden in Parkallen or the original North China cafe when it was just west of 99th Street on Whyte...it may still be there for all I know.
I will have to go back with someone more familiar with Korean food to interpret. Asked for some help from the woman working and she suggested a couple of things. Not surprisingly she mentioned the bulgogi and a rice veggie and fried egg dish served in the earthware dish which you mix with a spoon and the mustard-like plastic container which I assumed contained kochujung [sp?] or some similar red bean curd, hot and sour/sweet paste.
Came with the traditional ... at least for me...accompaniments of small dishes of kim chee, bean sprouts and another kim chee like food that I initially thought were small cubes of turnip but had more the texture and taste of cabbage core rather than leaves. Crisp, spicey and good.
The bulgogi came first. Quite frankly, disappointing. Not particularly flavourfull, thin slices of sauteed beef but not much glaze or flavour in a thin, watery sauce accompanied by cabbage and onions. The rice dish was much more flavoufull and we were enjoying it when our server brought out the chicken.
The platter prompted me to begin laughing, my wife commented that we should have brought the rest of the family and some knowing, smiles from adjacent tables. I should have known as the menu did say full chicken and at $20 or $22 it was significantly higher than the other courses. It was quite good. A chicken which had been cleavered up into smaller pieces, with a crisp non-oiler coating topped with a sweet and sour sauce that reminds me of that thai condiment one often gets with chili chicken. It is sweet but at the same time some nice heat toward the end.
We only managed to consume about half the plate and took the rest home for dinner.
Lunch was about $50 including 3 cokes. I am not sure if they have a liquor licence. I am assuming not. The younger server who took over our table toward the end of the meal commented after I said I would like to take the remaining portion home for dinner, that it would go well with a beer. She was right.
Mixed feelings about the spot overall. Would I go back. Probably but not in any rush and I usually avoid Old Strathcona "like the plague" especially on week-ends because of traffic. I defintitely would prefer to go back with several more people and at least one who knows Korean food better than I do to take advantage of the larger numbers to order more courses and try a little of a lot rather than a lot of one course or two.