Thursday, June 07, 2012

Lee Chen Asian Diner: Too Good to Be True!

Like many of my favourite restaurants, Lee Chen Asian Diner was a restaurant that I stumbled upon one day with some friends. The restaurant sits close to the corner of Bloor and Yonge, which is not the place where I would usually expect to see an authentic Asian diner.

Upon entrance of the place, I felt like I was in Asia again. Like many restaurants that sell dumpings and buns, Lee Chen Asian Diner also has a wide window looking into the kitchen featuring their talented chefs. Immediately, I had a good feeling and was excited to see what the food would be like.

House Fried Rice Cake $10.99
Since my first time here, I've already been back 3 more times in a month. Out of the three times I've been here, I ordered the House Fried Rice Cake on two occasions. This dish includes rice cakes, shredded pork, bamboo shoots, and pickled mustard greens. Although a rather simple looking dish, it is so delicious I can never stop eating it even when I'm already feeling bloated! The rice cakes are made just right, not too soft and a little chewy. When eating this dish, every bite is a mouthful of delicious with an interesting mixture of texture from the various ingredients.

And now...drum roll please for the highlight of this post!

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup  $9.99

On my second visit, I came for lunch with a friend so we each ordered an entree instead of multiple individual dishes. As soon as I saw beef noodle soup on the menu, I was excited to try it since my first dining experience here was great. When my huge bowl of mouthwatering noodles arrived, I was more than ecstatic. The bowl was almost overflowing with noodles, veggies, many chunks of juicy beef, and sauerkraut. The soup was flavourful and just a little bit spicy to make it even more appetizing. The noodles were chewy and seemed like they were handmade because of the bouncy texture and irregular shape. There were six big chunks of beef, with some that were half meat and half tendon - the exact way I liked it! This big bowl of scrumptious noodles was just heavenly.

On my third visit for dinner, a friend and I decided to try the "tasting menu" that our waitress recommended. Basically it is mini 5 course meal where you get to choose from 2 or 3 options per course. Each portion is fairly small and the course is meant for one person.

Hot & Sour Soup
The soup tasted fairly good but was a little too spicy for me. I also thought there could have been a little more ingredients in it.

Fiery Wonton
I really enjoyed the wontons and they weren't as spicy as I had expected.

Szechuan Shrimps
The shrimp was very juicy and meaty and was heavily seasoned with sauce that tasted sweet and spicy. The spiciness was a little more than I could handle, but I imagine it to be acceptable for the average person that likes spicy food.

Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)
I was very impressed by the XLBs. The skin was fairly thin with the right amount of soup inside. One of the best I've had in Vancouver and Toronto.

Fried Banana
The fried bananas wrapped up my dinner very well. The batter wasn't overly thick and entire dish wasn't too sweet. I also liked that the banana wasn't too mushy. 

Since the discovery of this restaurant less than a month ago, I have already been back 4 times! The location is convenient and the food is good at a fair price. Also, the staff are extremely friendly and the restaurant is very clean and spacious, not to mention very elegant looking. With this restaurant, I won't miss Asia anymore! 

If you live in downtown Toronto and want to have Chinese outside Chinatown, this is definitely the place to go to for authentic Shanghainese food! 

More photos:

Taste: ★★★★★
Environment: ★★★★★
Service: ★★★★★
Price: $$

Lee Chen Asian Diner
832 Yonge St
Toronto, ON

Lee Chen Asian Diner on Urbanspoon

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