The Return of the Burger King (at Lee’s Restaurant)

Lee’s Restaurant
3960 Shelbourne St,0
Victoria, BC
Phone: (778) 432-2111

ES: I’m not sure how many times the diner next to Save-on-Foods at University Heights has changed. I recall it was once an Italian style place offering up tasty gyros, Japanese with sushi and now it’s a Chinese. The big question is what it will become next? I’m honestly left wondering if it is under the same management or its someone new?

Until I can figure it out, this place is certainly a stop for many a Chinese person to grab a quick bite. Every time I walk past, the patrons there are usually Asian. I suspect many are students from China who have come to this city to study at the University of Victoria. This institution is approximately 15 mins away from here and this municipality has a larger than usual presence of Asian operations.

Donald Kennedy and I will be continuing in the Two Hungry Blokes tradition to explore eateries. We met up at Gauntlet Games (great place to hang out to play Magic the Gathering BTW) to get try out Cthulhu Tales, a card game I bought, and afterward, we were hungry. The dishes came out fast and a bit of home can be tasted in every dish made.

DK: Lookie, lookie Ed found a cookie! And by cookie, I mean washed up local food blogger whose face you vaguely recognize.

“Have I seen this guy online?” You’re asking yourself right now. “Did I print a blogspot photo of him ten years ago and paste it to a vision board under the title ‘RELATIONSHIP GOALS’?” Of course, you did, but turns out you were more into Choclair than Maestro because you did not Stick To Your Vision. Did all your dreams die? Did you STAY HEALTHY and EAT RIGHT? Did you TRAVEL to MELBOURNE? POTENTIAL, PROSPERITY, FOCUS, EARN! How far did you get? I’d love to know, but we’re here to scrutinize small business food offerings, not your lack of follow-through.

So, Lee House Restaurant. Their website boasts “world famous Taiwanese Beef Noodle” and “handmade Taiwanese Bao.” I didn’t realize Ed was so political, but I guess he’s a Xi Jinping man. I’m not going to weigh in on the “Does Taiwan belong to China?” debate, but I can’t disagree with Ed’s assessment of the Lee House kitchen staff: they are indeed fast as fuck.

ES: Perhaps next time, we’ll have to find that world-famous status. We ordered the beef noodle and it was flash fried to a crazy dry crisp. I can’t say if that’s good or bad. We arrived at a very late night since we wanted a bite. Since Don and I had the appetite, we went through that dish in no time. But I don’t think that was a clear winner. We had the bao, which was indeed very tasty. The pickles helped, and the dough was like it was massaged by many virgin hands.

DK: I’m gonna let you guys all in on a little secret. Ed has this twisted fantasy that all the Vancouver Virgin Megastore employees got kidnapped by a commercial bakery operation right after their last day of work back in September of 2005. The employees’ appreciation of music would allow them to master the rhythm of perfect kneading, or so goes Ed’s depraved daydream. Hundreds of “virgin hands” slowly pounding dough in unison. All day. Every day. I generally tune out Ed’s perverse ramblings once he gets to the part where he takes over this sandwich bread slave operation and gets the employees to “massage him like they do the dough.”

Whether you envision former big box store workers making the Bao Buns at Lee’s or not, you’ll enjoy what’s on it. Obvious skill is employed to make a texturally magnificent product. The quality of the bun made the somewhat lackluster taste of the pork belly forgivable. A bun filled with the tripe we ordered would have made a superior late night treat.

ES: Agreed! When the craving for protein hits, I opt for beef. When tongue or liver is offered, I’ll order that over any other type of cut. I love tripe; The cold cut slices was superb. They were thinly sliced and went down well; I could have gone for another dish! I’m betting the hoisin sauce is house-made, and the added sweetness elevated this meal to the stratosphere. The onion garnish was more than enough to make savouring each bite worth it.

As much as I wanted to enjoy the final dish, I have to be careful in my spice intake these days.

DK: Ed! Your beef tongue comments have me pining for the Norte taco truck. RIP. That place was unreal.

Back to the land of the living. A number of the items on Lee’s menu seem to be there strictly for the purpose of providing content. Almost all restaurants do this — family-style, take-out and tourist trap joints are generally the worst offenders. It’s created for the sake of sales, rather than the sake of building the unique identity of the creator. If you’ve ever spent more than five minutes on the internet, you are familiar with this concept.

So is Lee’s House primarily trafficking in clickbait dishes? As Elizabeth Nyland said in her review for Eat Magazine, sometimes what you get is more “practical than delicious.” This was true with the Beef Chow Mein we tried. The Three Spice Chicken also tasted more like an obligatory dish than a signature one. Lee’s is not without personality, however, and that shines through in the saintly bao buns. I imagine the dumplings here are on point as well.

Average with hints of radiance is the best way I can describe Lee’s House Restaurant. You can decide whether that description entices you or not.

3 Blokes out of 5

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