With the three restaurants that ZS Hospitality opened at No. 8 Lyndhurst Terrace in quick succession last year (Ee Da Le, My Thai Thai and Mamasita’s Cantina), the group has covered quite a lot of the globe in one prime location. Now, bringing things closer to home, the group has opened its fourth and final concept in the same building, LEE Lo Mei, which presents traditional Hong Kong-style food with a modern twist.
The new restaurant and bar takes over the ground floor and first floor of the building, which used to house popular drinking hole La Piola. As a prime spot for after work drinks, it was important for whoever filled its shoes to create a place equally enticing to post-work drinkers. I think LEE Lo Mei has done exactly that. With artwork depicting old Hong Kong, such as mah jong tiles, birdcages and amah bags, the space is colourful and lively, at the same time as being nostalgic.
Upstairs, the walls show scenes you’d expect to see in a Hong Kong wet market, whilst the décor is typical of an old school cha chaan teng.
LEE Lo Mei’s name has a couple of interpretations, one being too profane to write, and the other translating to “Lee’s delicious food.” With a menu put together by Chefs Joe Lee and Max Lee, I’m going to go with the second interpretation!
The menu consists of small plates and big plates, all designed for sharing. We started with LEE’s brine platter, which left a somewhat divided opinion around the table. The platter consisted of 24-hour brined Iberico pig’s ears, octopus and turkey kidneys, smothered in sweet sauce and yellow mustard. It wasn’t as offensive as it looks, but, personally, I wouldn’t order this again.
I loved the golden shrimps, which were large, juicy tiger shrimps coated in salted egg yolk and sautéed to a golden crisp, tossed with truffle “snow”. I could have eaten the entire bowl of this and scooped up the decadent truffle snow, but alas I had to share!
The Lees’ turnip cake is very creative, made with kataifi pastry, served with chorizo-topped turnip on the side and adorable little Chinese spoonfuls of house-made XO sauce. I liked the idea, but turnip cake in general isn’t really my thing.
My favourite of the starters were the taro dumplings. A modern version of the traditional wu gok, these were prepared with confit duck leg and foie gras, served alongside taro crisps and taro puree to create one heavenly dish.
The claypot rice with salted egg yolk and pork head meat sausage was delicious and comforting, and we all fought over the crispy rice from the base of the pot.
As a rule, I never order sweet and sour chicken (or pork for that matter), and yet I would definitely order this one again. Unlike the neon orange, artificial-tasting sauce that’s usually synonymous with this dish, this version was made with pineapple and vanilla, and tasted divine.
The shrimp roe noodles, topped with raw sea scallops and air-dried beef were satisfyingly chewy and salty, but it was the Hong Kong-style Ho Fun that really shone. Rather than the standard cheap cuts of beef this dish is usually made with, here it came with wafer-thin slivers of marbled A4 Wagyu beef that melted in the mouth.
The “full of rice” chicken was the spectacle of the evening. It was first presented as a clay pot full of salt, before Chef Joe carefully removed a lotus leaf from the salt to reveal a whole de-boned spring chicken stuffed with rice and abalone. This was up there amongst my favourite dishes of the evening.
Our final main course was an Iberico pork chop served on a hot, cow-shaped iron skillet atop crinkle-cut fries. A pot of rich black pepper sauce was poured over the meat to create that nostalgic sizzle. The meat was delicious, tender and ever so juicy, whilst I couldn’t stop eating the sauce-soaked fries.
The menu lists three desserts: ‘white’, ‘black’ and sweet rice dumplings (which I thought should be called ‘yellow’ to continue the colour theme!). Naturally, we tried all three. The dumplings require a little bit of patience to allow them to cool down – those without patience quickly worked out why – but were worth the wait.
If you’re not into tofu, the white dessert might be a little overwhelming, since it consists of tofu pudding and tofu ice cream. The yuba pearl and sago pudding seemed rather superfluous, but I did enjoy the tofu ice cream and the liquid nitrogen coconut crumble.
My favourite was the black dessert, which featured black sesame done seven ways, the best being the ‘sesame stone’.
Prices are obviously higher than your average cha chaan teng, but if you’ve read this far you’ll know that this is certainly not average. Small plates are mostly around $100, whilst big plates range from $138 to $288, so still pretty reasonable. I was pleasantly surprised by LEE Lo Mei and think it’s a really fun and creative concept. Its location is already drawing in the happy hour drinkers, but it’s yet to be seen if that same crowd will be enticed by the pimped up Chinese cuisine… I, for one, definitely am!
LEE Lo Mei
G/F & 1/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace
Tel: +852 2896 1838