Luckee: A New Take on Traditional Chinese Fare
And it begins… The foodie festival everyone in T-dot has been waiting for. 2 weeks of discounted prix fixe deals across Toronto, offering affordable opportunities for foodies to sample the city’s best. Celebrity chef – Susur Lee’s Luckee is a new comer to the Winterlicious scene, offering Nouvelle Chinoise cuisine. For those who are familiar with Lee’s French-Chinese fusion fare will find that Luckee offers a very different spread. Luckee sticks to it’s Chinese roots, drawing inspiration from multiple-regional cuisines in China. Its decor is reminiscent of old Hong Kong, featuring bright colours of red and green. Accompanied by a few of my friends, my Luckee Winterlicious visit was a rather positive experience. Upon entering the dining space, you cannot help but notice a giant Chinese Apothecary Cabinet. Our hostess guided us to a corner seat, nestled snuggly under a large neon double-happiness sign (囍), perched along a wall overlooking the dining area. We were quick to order, and service was swift.
All three of us ordered the Luckee Duck with Momo Wrappers as the appetizer. The dish is served along with a preserved bean sauce, waldorf style salad and a dried fruit relish. This was an interesting take on Peking Duck & Pancakes, offering a “fusion” of Chinese regional cuisine. Unlike the traditional serving of Peking duck, Luckee opts to substitute the Peking duck with a Siu Mei Duck: roast duck prepared in the style of Cantonese-Chinese cooking. Instead of the thin, skin heavy, Peking Duck & Pancakes, Luckee chooses to present its duck with thicker, meatier cuts. The dried fruit relish has flavours reminiscent of Chinese sundried citrus peels. Like sundried tomatoes, sundried citrus offers a deeper, bolder, citrusy flavour that highlights the relish, and brightens the duck. The preserved bean sauce, a traditional accompaniment to Peking Duck, offers both sweet and savoury notes to the dish, and is a welcome addition to the dish as a shout-out to Peking duck in its traditional form. The waldorf style salad was provided a necessary crunch to the dish, although I would prefer the traditional Peking leeks and cucumbers.
For my entree, I ordered the Soya Marinated Baked Black Cod. The fish is lush and succulent, and its buttery flakes melts in the mouth. The soya and chipotle tartar brings in bold umami flavours that packs in plenty of flavours in an otherwise, subtle-tasting fish. Pickled beets were nicely marinaded and went very well with the cod. And while the crispy bean curd and fried lotus root offered more of a textural experience than taste, it was a welcome addition to the fish.
My friends ordered the 5 Spice Chicken, featuring assertively seasoned chicken pieces with a mild honey miso dressing. Luckee borrows the frying technique/recipe from fried dim sum, and lends it into the dish, encasing the tender chicken pieces in an exceptionally light batter, so delicate that it almost dissolves on the tongue. The smooth and flavourful cauliflower puree builds the perfect canvas to contrast the crunch from the chicken, and the orange segments and sliced beets refreshes the palate so that it is ready for more of the fried morsel.
Luckee only offers 1 dessert in the Winterlicious menu: A Trio of chocolate sponge roll, sesame rice donut, and vanilla ice cream. Although I would not say that the dessert is a show stopper, I am impressed by the level of detail it took in choosing the desserts in the trio. It is an ode to Lee’s love of bringing cuisines together. Juxtaposing a classic “Western” dessert of vanilla ice cream, with a traditional Chinese sesame rice donut. Nestled in the middle of the two is a sponge cake that can only be described as “East meets West”: borrowing inspiration from steamed cakes in Dim Sum and rolling it with chocolate, an ingredient that is decidedly form the West. The Sesame Rice Donut is delightful, offering a sweet nugget of mashed lotus seeds, wrapped in the chewy sweetness of a sweet rice flour dough, and finished with the crunchy exterior of golden sesame seeds. The caramel sauce underneath the donut teases the palate and leaves me wanting more. The cake is delicious, though not jaw droppingly delectable. And the vanilla ice cream? Well, it’s vanilla ice cream. And you can hardly go wrong with that.
Overall, my experience at Luckee was a positive one. Those looking for fusion cuisine will be disappointed. Luckee’s food is a reinterpretation of traditional Chinese fare from the lens of a modernist/originative chef. The food isn’t “authentic”, as in it isn’t a true representation of traditional Chinese cuisine. But it is, nonetheless, genuine and thoughtful. And although fusion isn’t the theme in Luckee, culinary influences from the West seeps into many of its offerings and offers something new to the palate.
Luckee Winterlicious Menu
$35 Dinner (Plus taxes and gratuity)
Steamed Spinach & Chinese Celery Dumpling, Soya Marinated & Julienne Tofu Salad (vegetarian)
garlic chives, bean sprouts, fresh herbs, black sesame & sesame dressing
Crispy Shrimp Wontons
endive, chrysanthemum greens, pineapple salsa, sweet & sour sauce
Luckee Duck, Momo Wrappers
preserved bean sauce, dried fruit relish, waldorf style salad
Singaporean Curry Noodles (vegetarian)
spicy szechwan bean crumb, bean curd & julienne of vegetables
Soya Marinated Baked Black Cod
pickled beets, crispy bean curd skin & lotus root, chipotle tartar sauce.
5 Spice Chicken
cauliflower purée, baby spinach, orange & lily bulb, honey miso dressing
Chocolate Sponge Roll (vegetarian)
chantilly cream, raspberry coulis
Sesame Rice Donut (vegetarian)
Vanilla Ice Cream (vegetarian)
with salted caramel sauce