Luckee restaurant is the newest venture taken on by internationally renowned chef, Susur Lee. Food Network fans know Chef Susur from the judges table on Chopped Canada and Top Chef Canada, or in the spotlight, battling it out on Iron Chef America and Top Chef Masters.
Located in Toronto’s Soho Metropolitan hotel, Luckee is an homage to Chef Susur Lee’s Hong Kong roots. Lee grew up with dim sum with his first food memory being tasting black bean sauce with his father. The aim of Luckee is to “create an unforgettable experience for people who love Chinese food.”
Luckee’s interior was created by Brenda Bent (Restaurant Makeover designer, and wife of Chef Susur Lee) and her partner Karen Gable. The space is sleek and modern, filled with dramatic imperial Chinese motifs, painted screens with pops of bright red, giving nod to the kitsch of 1950’s American Chinese restaurants. Eager diners can perch on the high top bar that surrounds the glassed-in kitchen, and watch the dumpling masters at work.
Haute dim sum is the focus; vegetarian, steamed and fried variations are served all day, and by cart on weekends. Some dishes are very traditional Cantonese, and others showcase Chef Susur’s talents. Dim sum dishes, like char siu bao (pork soup dumplings) and scallop, pea shoot and king mushroom dumplings, are served with a trio of house-made condiments. These include soya sauce with chili, chili sauce with Chinese mustard, and green onion and ginger pesto.
In addition to Dim Sum, the menu boasts a range of “Nouvelle Chinoise” cuisine inspired by Lee’s travels through Asia (notably Guangdong, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore.) Lee’s idea behind Luckee was to modernize recognizable Chinese fare, and transform Chinese comfort food into sophisticated cuisine.
Some dishes are “new Asian”, like the Baked Marinated Fillet of Cod that Lee developed in Singapore. Peas and corn beautifully reflect the season and the reduced black vinegar glaze gives a nice acidity. Overall, the dish is refreshing, light and perfect for summer. Chef Susur’s Black Pepper Filet of Beef Tenderloin relies heavily on the strong tastes associated with the Malay Chinese (bean paste, chilies and curry leaves). Both savoury and fresh, this dish is further elevated by a delightful salad. Both the Crispy Five Spice Chicken and the Spicy Wok Fried Bang Bang Chicken are spicy and flavourful, benefiting from interplay of textures.
Luckee’s Wuxi Braised Pork Rib is most recognizably Susur; a perfect example of the fusion between Asian and French cuisine. A take on a traditional Shanghainese dish, the rib and belly are slow braised with Shaoxing wine until tender. The pork is then served with butternut squash, pureed with yuzu and sauteed apples. This dish is influenced by the wine, apples and pork of the Alsace region in France.
But the most popular dish is the signature Luckee Duck, A Cantonese style BBQ duck, with an optional fois grois add on. Diners can layer the lean and crispy slices of duck with relish and preserved sauce, with fresh apples and more traditional julienned cucumber.
A selection of desserts are also available, including custard tarts with ginger, that are lightened up with egg whites, sesame balls stuffed with lotus bean paste, and a tangy passion fruit and pineapple coconut mango pudding. This dessert truly brings a Southeast Asian twist on a traditional Chinese dessert. Luckee also features an extensive list of spirits, wine and beer selections, and draught sake on tap, made exclusively for Luckee by Ontario sake company, Izumi. Inventive cocktails like the Aura (sobieski vodka, lime, mint, cucumber, cordial and lime zest), make a visit to the bar worth the trip on its own. There is a limited bar menu as well, for after-hour bites.
Below are photos of the restaurant itself, as well as delicious dishes: