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Lee Garden on Spadina / North of Dundas

Chocaholic May 8, 2009 08:22 PM

How come I don't see any posts about Lee Garden? I think this is one of the better eats at Spadina / Dundas. Always good quality.

However the wait is horrendous if you go at 7 and starving.

I have always had good food from Lee Garden. Last week I went and I had the orange honey ribs again. That was great. Also had the fish hotpot was good and also a mixed veggie dish, should have chosen the dow miu! Darn it. Next time!

My usual is the sizzling beef, steamed fish, gai lan, dow miu, the jai jai chicken. That's good too.

Any recommends on what to have at Lee Garden.

  1. Dr. John Nov 5, 2013 10:29 AM

    I have been a regular at Lee Garden since the late 70s, when it was across the street and had the ambience of a storage locker. Obviously I am biased, given my dedication, but I do think that they do some dishes very well. Yes the prices are higher than the cheap eats in the area, but not as high as top end places.

    I can't speak for how authentically Chinese the food is. But I can say that it is a fail-safe place for me to take first time visitors to Toronto, including those with less adventurous palates.

    Some of the dishes are not particularly good. The Singapore Noodles for example are far better at Swatow in my opinion.

    These are my general favourites, some of which are on the regular menu and some are rotating specials:

    Deep fried squid with garlic pepper - although the execution is not always consistent, when they get it right, it is the most tender rendition of this dish I have had. Every meal of mine at Lee Garden includes this dish.

    Crispy fried tofu pie - despite the unappetizing name, a yummy mix of tofu, shrimp, mushrooms, and garlic.

    Beef tenderloin with Chinese steak sauce on hot plate - a standard dish that is well executed - butter soft beef in a sweet and tangy sauce.

    Steamed fish (pickerel is my favourite) with ginger and green onion - with shreds of dried lemon peel, coriander, and mushrooms.

    Some kind of seafood with bitter melon and usually black bean sauce.

    Fresh scallops in the shell, usually done with a garlic sauce.

    1. Charles Yu Nov 4, 2013 12:13 PM

      Continuation of Lee Garden's food photos.

      As previously commented by fellow chowhounders, most dishes were on the greasy side. The highly touted 'Great Grand Father Chicken' was dry and disappointing. Only dish worth mentioning was the fried pork chop with port sauce on the far right.

      1. Charles Yu Nov 4, 2013 12:07 PM

        The 4 person judging panel of the annual 'Best Chinese Restaurant Award' went for a taste test there late last year.
        Though plate presentation was good by Chinese restaurant standard, the overall verdict was mediocre, mostly disappointing food at inflated price. Acceptable in the China town area but fell way short when compare to offerings in the Richmond Hill/ Markham.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Charles Yu
          Teep Nov 4, 2013 03:24 PM

          Did they try other downtown ones and if so which is the best in that area?

          1. re: Teep
            Charles Yu Nov 4, 2013 05:27 PM

            As a group, their mission was to try out the chicken. Individually, they tried out the usual LWH, New Sky, Dynasty, Crown Princess...etc. LWH has since changed chef and owner, New Sky has gone down hill, Dynasty is so-so but better than the say, Rohsan....etc. Best is Crown Princess but expensive by downtown Chinese food standard

        2. b
          Bogels Nov 4, 2013 08:12 AM

          When is it opening back up? They have been closed for some renos and I thought they were supposed to open on the 1st but went last night and it was closed :(

          1. c
            cheeser May 14, 2009 10:16 PM

            I have only been to Lee Garden once, and I don't think I will go again. I have had some exceptional Chinese food and blah Chinese food before...and my opinion is that it is equivalent to food fair Chinese. If I wanted food fair standard, I would prefer to go to the Grange, and for a proper sit down Chinese meal I would wait and go elsewhere. And not all stir fries are greasy! I also found their deep fried food to be over fried in old oil. Ick!

            4 Replies
            1. re: cheeser
              Chocaholic Sep 7, 2009 04:37 PM

              I went back to Lee Gardens becuz I like the orange honey garlic ribs. It's good but their portions are so small for the astronomical price they are charging. I think I will give them up. The dow miu was really good, but the portion was so small.... its crazy. $15 for a few pieces of veggies!

              Oh I went back to Asian Legend too....I guess it depends on the location. Forgot which one I went to, but the food was good.

              I guess every restaurant depends on the day, who is cooking etc.

              Nothing can be exactly the same.

              1. re: Chocaholic
                Nemesis Sep 10, 2009 09:45 AM

                Lee Garden is still one of my favorites. Some of the dishes I like are the Grandmother Roast Duck, Steamed Fresh Whole Fish w Ginger and Green Onion, Lobster with Black Bean Sauce, Clams in Black Bean Sauce, Cantonese Lo Mein.

                1. re: Nemesis
                  sumdumgoy Sep 11, 2009 06:03 AM

                  Also try the Shredded Duck Meat Soup.

                  1. re: sumdumgoy
                    victor page Sep 11, 2009 08:32 AM

                    I've gone to Lee Garden too many times to count. There are always a lot of Asians eating there, to the extent that means anything. If you say it was all non-Asians then I suspect you are talking about another place.

                    I don't find it over-priced for what you get- you pay more but you get real chicken for example (not skimpy grade C chicken with too much. breading). Other places serve larger portions but are you really getting more or just more breading, dried noodles, etc...?

            2. e
              evansl May 12, 2009 04:55 AM

              Ah, memories. 15 years ago, Lee's Garden was THE place for Chinese food in Toronto according to the serious eaters. It is genuine home style Chinese cooking.

              7 Replies
              1. re: evansl
                Dimbulb May 12, 2009 06:41 AM

                I've always found Lee Garden seriously over-rated and over-priced for what you get.

                1. re: Dimbulb
                  Chocaholic May 14, 2009 01:04 PM

                  But my experience has always been good!

                  It's you get what you pay for. It's a tad pricier ... but not that much more...for good quality food.

                  Where else do you eat in Chinatown? Dundas/ Spadina. Need good eats there.

                  Asian Legend was over rated. I didn't have a good experience. Thumbs down.

                  1. re: Chocaholic
                    LTL May 14, 2009 01:33 PM

                    I also enjoy Lee Garden. However, the last time I was there was at least 4 years ago, so I'm not sure if quality has changed as of late. I also enjoy E-Pan.

                    1. re: LTL
                      LUV_TO_EAT May 14, 2009 07:16 PM

                      There's a reason there's not a lot of Asian's eating at Lee Garden. Asians go to inexpensive places, they go to expensive places...you'll find them eating if the food is good.

                      Never eaten there myself, only providing my observation.

                      1. re: LUV_TO_EAT
                        Chocaholic May 14, 2009 09:32 PM

                        How can you give an opinion if you have never eaten there!

                        I go to Kings Noodles, Swatow, and Lee Garden ... and for 3 dishes....they all came out to about around $50 at each restaurant. A little bit more at Lee Garden .. say $5!

                        At Lee Garden I get the house soup and the soupy chinese dessert. So for $5 more I think its a better deal. For dinner I will definitely go back to Lee Garden.

                        1. re: Chocaholic
                          T Long May 24, 2009 04:53 AM

                          Lee Garden's food is better than Swatow and/or King's Noodles imo. My only complaint about Lee would be a higher price (but its worth the better food) and the insane crowds at supper. Have had good luck also at E-pan (less selection, cheaper than Lee). Lots of Asians at Lee whenever I've been there....It does attract a higher percentage of non-asians than is typical for the Spadina strip which for me is actually a good sign.

                          1. re: T Long
                            Teep May 24, 2009 06:07 PM

                            Swatow and Kings are "noodle houses". Their forte should be noodles, congee and rice with toppings, and it's not surprising that their "main dishes" are not up to snuff.

                            I think one reason why Lee Gardens attracts so many non-Asians is that it's been around for SO LONG, and it was the only one before the newer (and IMHO better) ones like E Pan and New Sky, which the less adventurous might ignore because they haven't had the same amount of time to build up a reputation.

              2. m
                MindGrinder May 9, 2009 10:32 PM

                As with any restaurant in the area....eat at your own risk. Lately chinatown has become the tourist food equivalent of Captain John's. The real places to go arent safe and the clean places to go arent real.

                1. c
                  c_snapper May 9, 2009 09:23 AM

                  understanding that most, if not all, chinese food resto on the spadina strip serve up over greased chinese food, i found lee garden to be SUPER greasy...and given the quality, it's also on the pricier side of the scale.

                  it was weird that the last time i went, aside from the staff, i was the only chinese person eating there.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: c_snapper
                    Chocaholic May 9, 2009 12:09 PM

                    It's never been the case with me. There always seems to be some regular asian couples that go there too. And they don't even look at the menu and order.

                    I know what you mean about grease, but all stir fries and fried foods are always greasy.

                    I've had a steam fish there...that was not greasy. Steamed hehee.....I guess it depends on the dishes you pick.

                    1. re: Chocaholic
                      Dimbulb May 9, 2009 09:34 PM

                      "Regular Asians"?

                      1. re: Dimbulb
                        Chocaholic May 9, 2009 10:09 PM

                        I didn't mean regular asians as if there were un regular ones. I meant to say regular patrons that were asian! :D

                      2. re: Chocaholic
                        szw Nov 5, 2013 10:34 AM

                        "but all stir fries and fried foods are always greasy" wrong!

                      3. re: c_snapper
                        evansl Nov 4, 2013 12:59 PM

                        It's funny that there was a time once when Lee's was THE place for Chinese food in Toronto. But I generally agree and gave up on Chinatown a long time ago.

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