I was recently invited to review Luckee Restaurant, Susur Lee’s Chinese food restaurant at Toronto’s Soho Metropolitan Hotel. We arrived at the restaurant on a Wednesday evening at 5:45 p.m. in the King West neighbourhood and were able to parking in the parking lot across the street for $10.
With striking red accents, neon lights, traditional Asian room dividers, and contemporary tabletops and chairs, Luckee Restaurant’s decor suggests both an upscale and casual Chinese food restaurant. A sleek bar with low lighting and plush bar stools appeared on the right.
Upon entering the front dining room, we noticed that there were already a few diners enjoying appetizers. We were seated at a table with a wood banquette and a casual yet comfortable wooden chair. Sixties music including a young Smokey Robinson crooned in the background.
We were greeted by our server and offered cocktails. My dining partner ordered a white Austrian wine, Domane Wachau ($14/glass) while I ordered a non-alcoholic Cactus Lychee Pear juice. I loved the sweetness of my pear lychee concoction while my dining partner found her wine clear and crisp with a bit of sweetness.
We were offered a refreshing salad, which tantalized the taste buds before beginning our meal. Our server then consulted with us about the menu. She strongly suggested starting with Susur Lee’s signature salad to cleanse the palate. The 21-ingredient salad was made with a base of buckwheat noodles, and tofu, coleslaw, vegetables, cashews, orange juice and two types of vinegars. The dish was a symphony of textures that blended beautifully together, although I found it a bit heavy on vinegar.
As the restaurant filled up with casually dressed diners (one guy was wearing a baseball cap), the lights were dimmed even more and pulsating electronic music replaced the 60s soul music. I would have preferred to continue listening to the early R&B tunes.
We were advised by our server that the Cheung Fun came highly recommended. There are three types: Chicken Cheung Fun ($12), Shrimp Cheung Fun ($12) and Spinach & Mixed Vegetables Cheung Fun ($10). We opted for the latter, which was served in 8 pieces. These rice rolls contained spinach, vegetables and a delightful, small, fried morsel of rice. The Cheung Fun are not heavily spiced so they were a perfect complement to the palate after the zesty flavours of the previous salad. Lightly coated in a soya juice, these tender rolls were a tastebud’s delight.
The next dish we decided on was the Quick Sauteed Scallops with sweet, soya glaze, $24. What arrived were five plump scallops that had been fried in a light coating. Served with lightly grilled asparagus, water chestnuts and cashews, these scallops were meaty and succulent and definitely a must order on the menu.
We couldn’t decide between the Crispy Fried 5 Spice Chicken ($21) or the Black Pepper Filet of Beef Tenderloin ($29) so we asked the server which dish she recommended. She advised us that the Beef Tenderloin was hands down her favourite so we opted for that. The peppery beef, lightly sauteed in a malay chino garlic sauce, was so tender you barely needed a knife to cut it and the portion was generous. The delicate salad featuring baby spinach and lily bulb perfectly complemented the spicy beef.
Offering both a casual and upscale atmosphere, Luckee Restaurant offers great value and Susur Lee’s signature artistry. Our experience will definitely have us returning.
Luckee Restaurant is in the Soho Metropolitan Hotel, 328 Wellington Street West, 416-935-0400. Open Tuesday to Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday for Dim Sum Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.