Lee Garden Seafood Restaurant

Lee Garden Seafood is a somewhat new resto in Burnaby that replaced the infamous Grand Buffet. For many years, Grand Buffet was a solid, go-to spot for a cheap fill…the Uncle Willy’s of Asian fare. As the years went by, it slowly deteriorated into an unseemly dive with barely warmed chaffing dishes of nastiness alongside crunchy, past-due sushi and frostbitten ice cream. On our final visit, I pulled a ladle of soup from the tureen with a foot-long hair attached. Rock-bottom. They shut down, thankfully, a couple of years ago. This past spring the space was transformed into a rather luxurious new restaurant. Miss Vancouver Piggy captured the room beautifully in her post.

As is tradition in our office this time of year, we say goodbye to our summer students with a feast. This time around we went with a rather major meal at Burnaby’s newest Dim Sum joint.

IMG_8238

Lee Garden is an extremely popular spot. On most days the parking lot is full by 11:30 a.m. with the overflow lining the side streets. Most dim sum items are in the $5 range so it ain’t bargains drawing in the crowds. It seems cleanliness, good eats and great service are the main attractions.

IMG_8277

Har Gow will always be ordered. It’s a standard to go by. Here it’s labelled Lee Garden Special Prawn Dumplings. And these were pretty special. There’s a sizeable amount of fresh, firm prawn encased in a light wrap all steamed to a perfect degree. I haven’t come across many better executed.

IMG_8299

Another standard, of course, is Sui Mai (Steamed Pork Dumplings). These were prepared very well. Tight, fresh ground pork, still juicy and full-flavored. The haphazard tossing of tobiko seemed odd. Why finish a nice dish so sloppily? Sherman noted this in his post as well. It’s very strange that a higher-end establishment would allow this kind of inconsistency to hit the table repeatedly.

IMG_8263

From the Chef’s Specialty menu, we went with the rather inexpensive Pan Fried Noodle with Chive ($5.98). Nothing special but tasty, nonetheless. A good noodle cooked right.

IMG_8280

Deep Fried Pork & Shrimp Dumplings. I love these mainly for the crisp and chewy wrap. The minced ingredients are on the minimal side but it is one addictive morsel!

IMG_8271

For another crunchy, grease-laden treat, we grabbed a couple plates of Fried Shrimp Spring Rolls with Garlic. These were well-packed with crisp prawn and almost enough garlic. A sweeter dip would’ve helped but that’s just me being a gweilo.

 

IMG_8270

Returning to the Chef’s Specialty side of the menu (and to drop some greens into the mix), we got the Sauteed Chinese Broccoli with Dried Flounder. A bit tough these were and a bit unwieldy. Cut in half, they would’ve been much more manageable. At least we got our veggies in.

IMG_8282

Lee Garden offers three Rice in Hot Pots on their lunch menu. This is the Steamed Rice with Chinese Sausages version. Unfortunately, this was the lowlight of the meal. Both bowls went half eaten. I’d assumed we’d get a very hot clay pot with crunchy, caramelized rice at the bottom. The steamed rice was good but some of the sausage slices were just inedible. Not only very salty but chewy to the point of “having-to-bury-them-in-a-napkin” chewy. That’s some sub-standard Lap Cheong.

IMG_8287

Conversely, the Fried Shrimp and Chive Dumplings were a cut above. A nice, seared exterior holding a tasty mix. Not quite what Po King used to put out, but a standout on today’s menu.

IMG_8252

One of my personal favorites here was the House Special Pan Fried Sticky Rice. I guess when the Lap Cheong is diced and given some pan time it becomes much more edible. The glutinous rice has a great, toothsome chew making for a very solid plate.

IMG_8285

The Steamed Rice Rolls with Prawn & Chives were in the passable category. Decent snappy prawn but not quite the taste level we’re accustomed to. Not too sure what was missing but we had a choice of chile sauces to kick them up nicely.

IMG_8254

When the Salt & Spicy Squid hit the table, I was quite impressed. A good, solid portion fried to golden beauty. Too bad they went past a proper fry time into the beginning of the rubbery stage. Along with a few bits of cartilege thrown in, this plate was a borderline fail.

As if all that wasn’t enough, we grabbed a trio off the dessert menu.

IMG_8301

 

IMG_5679

The Steamed Creamy Custard Buns were a bit of a thud. Dry, heavy and too much steam. The custard became pasty, the dough, stodgy…a bit too much after a hefty meal. The Freshly Baked Milk Custard Tarts, on the other hand, were light, flaky and almost sweet enough.

My favorite of the bunch was the Deep Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste.

IMG_5666

 

IMG_5671

 

I didn’t expect to be giving Lee Garden such a rough ride on some of their dishes today. We’ve been there a few times and always looked forward to going back. The service is near impeccable and the managers are always around to help out. Frustratingly, at times, the kitchen isn’t keeping up with the front of house and their level of quality. I’m hoping things will be ironed out because Burnaby sure could use consistent, high-quality dim sum.

Lee Garden Seafood

Lee Garden Seafood Restaurant 利苑海鮮酒家 on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

11 responses

  1. Fabulous work my friend!

    August 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    • Karl

      Thanks, Dougie! Glad you’re reading. 🙂

      August 28, 2014 at 7:11 am

  2. Lol… I am a sucker for nice interiors, especially if the food was good! I still need to try their dim sum too, although some family friends have mentioned it isn’t as good as dinner.

    For claypot rice, you should try Shining Garden’s! It’s soo good and the rice has a tasty smoked meat flavour. Also, I was told many years ago that the crispy rice isn’t the main attraction of the claypot. Back in the olden days, those in poverty would take the leftover rice (crispy bottoms) from claypots and add water to make a meal. But seems like nowadays, everyone loves the crispy bottom.

    August 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

    • Karl

      Thanks for the tip and a bit of history, Miss V! I’m always looking for the better versions of my favorites. Keep up the great work, BTW. You’ve got a very insightful writing style…a refreshing read. Cheers! 🙂

      August 28, 2014 at 10:39 am

  3. grayelf

    I still miss Sun Sui Wah’s on Main’s version of the panfried dumplings with prawn — it was outstanding when they had the a la minute prep table out in the room (when they still had carts). I may have to venture out to the wilds of Bby just for that dish! Nice writeup, and especially appreciate the caveats.

    August 28, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    • Karl

      Yup. I forgot having them there and how good they were. Woulda been so cool to have seen them prepared a la minute!

      August 29, 2014 at 8:13 am

      • grayelf

        It was a little station with a gas ring and a fry pan, which for some reason made me inordinately happy :-).

        Thanks for the additional ideas, LR. I was aware of The One (such a terrible name!) but Jin Jiang is new to me.

        August 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

  4. GE, in case your attempt at Lee Garden isn’t successful, there’s always The One (modern outlet of Lao Shan Dong) at the SE corner of Kingsway & Buller (1/2 km west of Lee Garden) 🙂

    August 29, 2014 at 9:32 am

  5. Otherwise, Jin Jiang in the Best Western on Kingsway just east of Royal Oak offers very decent Shanghainese fare.

    August 29, 2014 at 9:33 am

  6. Karl

    I believe we had a chowdown in Jin Jiang’s previous incarnation, New Age, GE. It was less than memorable I recall. This is a post from a very memorable lunch:
    https://thefridaylunch.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/new-age-chinese-cuisine-re-visited/
    I’d love to get a gang together to do a proper meal at Jin Jiang. Anyone?!

    August 29, 2014 at 4:44 pm

  7. My memory is foggy now, I thought you (Karl) did a write-up on our Jin Jiang lunch. Guess not.

    Without digressing *too* much from this thread, here’s Sherman and Selina’s write-ups re: JJ:

    http://www.shermansfoodadventures.com/2014/01/jin-jiang-shanghai-restaurant.html

    http://www.vancitynoms.com/2014/06/jin-jiang-shanghai-restuarant-metrotown.html

    August 29, 2014 at 10:32 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s