Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Kid Lee, Toronto

When I travel, one thing I love is to check out establishments of the local celebrity chefs.  As I researched Toronto for my short business trip, one name did show up several times: Susur Lee.  The local celebrity chef.

Susur Lee has a fairly fascinating background (from Hong Kong, worked at teh Peninsula Hotel, is wife was killed on a flight destroyed by a Soviet fighter jet ...), but his celebrity status comes from being on Top Chef: Masters, and doing quite well, and since making appearances on other food TV shows.  His restaurant group has a number of establishments around Toronto (and one in Singapore), including a fairly recent casual addition: Kid Lee, all fusion cuisine.
A very famous slaw.
I went for one thing: a very, very famous slaw.

My slaw was a mixed success.  Some parts were just not very good.  But others, so good, that nothing else mattered.  I'd get it again, actually.


Kid Lee is a departure from the other restaurants, a fast casual place, in a food court, open only for lunch, only during the week.  If you are looking for it, go to the second floor dining area of First Canadian Place.

It was on my radar because it features Chef Lee's most famous dish, the "Singapore Slaw", his take on a Lo Hei salad, a Chinese new year dish I didn't actually know anything about, but gets such great reviews that I just had to seek it out.  Oh, and did I mention, its vegan and gluten-free?
It took me a while to spot it, tucked in the corner, because I never saw a sign that actually said "Kid Lee", and I only barely noticed the cursive "by Susar Lee" signage here.

I visited during the off hours, but I am told it gets crazy during lunch.
Hot Foods.
Kid Lee serves much more than just the salad, and the majority of the menu is hot proteins and sides, which you combine to make combos or bowls with healthy bases.  Assembly line style.  None of these items, besides the other signature dish, cheeseburger spring rolls, really called out to me though.
Salad Making.
I'm clearly not alone, as there is an entire separate counter, and entire separate ordering line, just for the salads.  Yes, really.  And people really do say at lunch it gets packed.  For a vegan, gluten-free, *salad*

Salads are tossed to order, and handed over in big bowls.
Grab + Go.
If you want your salad even *faster*, you can opt for it from the grab and go section, which has just the salads, pre-packaged up in separate compartments, for you to mix at your leisure, and drinks.  Nothing else is available at this side counter.  And it too is packed.
This section literally is *just* the salads.  Nothing else.  I tell you, these are the main attraction.  I was beyond curious.


Since Kid Lee is open only during the week, and only during lunch and afternoon, my chances to try it were limited.  I decided to swing by late one afternoon to get a salad to go to bring back to the hotel to have later that evening, as I did some work from the hotel.  I was burnt out on dining out.

I ordered in advance, on Ritual, and was given the choice of having it "Save it for Later", which I opted for.  I thought that I'd still get a freshly made one, just with dressing on the side.  I asked for extra taro, thinking I was getting a real made to order salad.  Turns out ... I wasn't.
Signature Slaw: Packaging.
My salad looked exactly like every other one in the grab and go station, and I'm fairly certain it had no extra taro.  Oh well.

I was really impressed with the packaging though.  Not only was the dressing separate, but the crispy components were in their own container AND the veggie components were compartmentalized in the bigger packaging.  Major credit for this packaging.  All 19 ingredients ...
Signature Slaw: Instructions.
Clear instructions were on top: add dressing, add dry ingredients, mix.  Easy peasy!

Of course, I didn't follow them, opting to try things individually first, and make my own perfect creation.
Chef Susur Lee’s Singaporean Slaw. $13.
"Chef Susur Lee's Signature slaw is made with 19 ingredients. Fresh veg, Japanese plum & ginger dressing with a mix of herbs, topped with crispy shallots, taro & peanuts. Gluten free & vegan."

Here you can see it all a bit better.

In the big container, is the base slaw: cucumber, carrot, jicama, all julienned, plus the dressing in its own little container.  The slaw I actually really didn't care for, and I'm not sure why.  It wasn't really crisp, it was kinda soft, and the flavor was ... just off.  I think sorta pickled, but it just kinda seemed old.  I used a little, but mostly discarded this.

On top, in three separate compartments was tomato slices, a mix of herbs (purple basil, coriander, daikon sprouts, edible flower petals, and green onions.), and pickled red onion and ginger.  The tomato was very sad, clearly not ripe, out of season, and I quickly tossed it.  The herbs though were all fresh enough, and added a lot of unique flavors.  The pickled stuff was also fine.

The base was pretty forgettable and not great, and I was glad I had some leftover base from my poke bowl from Rolltation the night before to use instead (just kale and cabbage), but it worked well with all the herbs and pickled stuff.

I was feeling kinda down on this salad, except, the good stuff was still to come.  On the side, in a fairly large container, is all the crunch.
Crispy Ingredients: 
In the smaller, but still sizable, container was the crispy ingredients: rice vermicelli, shredded fried taro root, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, fried shallots.

I'm all about crunchy components in my salad, and I adore taro chips, so ... yes, I was excited for this. Still, it was better than I even imagined.

So much texture, from the light rice vermicelli, the string-like salty taro shreds, the chunky peanuts, the crazy flavorful fried shallots, and lots of sesame seeds.  All crispy in their own way.  All flavor powerhouses.  All incredible.

Honestly, I'd purchase this mix as a side if I could.  It makes a great snack food.  You can sprinkle it on any salad.  But it was even better when combined with the killer dressing it was intended to pair wtih.
Salted plum and ginger ume dressing.
Because, wow, the dressing was incredible.  The color was amazing too.

The ginger was powerful, but in a vibrant way.  Overpowering, almost, but somehow not.  The plum, fruity and salty, and a punch in the face, in a good way.  I couldn't get over how amazing this dressing was.

Full of umami I guess, sweet, salty, savory, fascinating.
Kid Lee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails