You know there’s something worthwhile about a restaurant when it’s survived the past two very challenging years. Opened in December 2019 in the midst of a tumultuous and chaos-filled protest year in Hong Kong, followed by an ongoing pandemic that shuttered many businesses across the board, Miss Lee has withstood all the storms with its imaginative takes on vegetarian Chinese cuisine.
Chinese cuisine has traditionally had a strong vegetarian component, with many Chinese Buddhists adhering to the “no kill” belief regarding animal slaughter. Miss Lee has built its menu on this idea, using no artificial or faux meats and, instead, utilising traditional meat replacers like mushrooms to craft a satisfying menu.
Owned by ZS Hospitality Group, which has a vibrant portfolio of Asian-cuisine restaurants (Hansik Goo, Ying Jee Club, Whey and J.A.M), Miss Lee is a casual outfit that shares the same building as fine-dining Singaporean restaurant Whey. The ground-floor eatery has recently introduced 15 new dishes, tempting both regulars and new guests for return visits.
We have been curious about Miss Lee for quite some time, and at the suggestion of a vegan friend, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to give it a try. It’s always tough choosing a restaurant to fit all diners’ preferences, but a peruse through the menu made us feel like we could do without meat just fine – there was no cashew butter or tempeh in sight!
We started the meal by cooling down with a refreshing celtuce and shredded mushroom salad ($118). The shallow slices made on the crunchy celtuce stalks allow the sweet, pickled ginger jelly dressing to fully permeate. King oyster mushrooms, bean-curd sheets and white fungus add meatiness.
A play on a classic dish, the golden cauliflower ($128) in salted egg yolk, braised mushroom and pumpkin purée is as satisfying as if the cauliflower was, instead, prawn. The briny, rich egg yolk adds loads of umami indulgence to the vegetarian dish – so much so that even our vegan friend couldn’t resist it.
The double-boiled mushroom soup ($78) has complex layers of depth thanks to the slow-cooking process that draws out the umami flavours of the agaricus mushroom and sea coconut. Mini wontons give heartiness and chew to the soothing broth.
We love scallion oil, and the handmade noodles with scallion oil ($128) at Miss Lee did not disappoint. A slow-cooked, gooey egg provides extra silky richness, and we were pleasantly surprised that this dish was not as oily as its counterparts around town.
The steamed egg with corn purée ($128) is topped with crushed, crispy kale and polenta chips. For us, the mushiness of the corn purée detracted from the dish. For a steamed egg dish, we expected a silky texture rather than gumminess, and we would have preferred more savouriness to balance the corn’s sweetness. The snow swallow, or wild tragacanth gum, that lines the bottom of the dish also has an unpleasant, slimy texture.
Reminiscent of sweet-and-sour pork, the sweet-and-sour mixed mushrooms ($158) at Miss Lee are a mouth-watering plate of king oyster mushroom, lion’s mane mushroom, pineapple, apple and courgette tossed in a sweet and tangy plum sauce. The meaty mushrooms are a delicious replacement for meat, especially when coated in the addictively sweet sauce.
The cold noodles with potato strips ($128) are a deliciously refreshing summer dish packed full of crunchy wood ear, bamboo shoot and bamboo pith. We really enjoyed the hint of fiery spiciness in the flavourful sauce.
The mapo eggplant and bean curd ($158) comes with a side of kale rice, which is the perfect conduit to soak up all that delicious, gooey sauce. The crispy, piping-hot aubergine batons are also sinfully good.
The unassuming multigrain fried rice ($158) was one of our favourites of the evening. Packed full of corn kernels, pine nuts, raisins, fresh lily bulb petals and courgette and topped with crispy enoki mushrooms, this dish holds a delightful surprise with each bite thanks to the various textures.
We are die-hard meat lovers, but Miss Lee provided us with a thoroughly satisfying vegetarian meal that appeased even our carnivorous side. Everything we had aside from the steamed egg was delicious, and we will definitely be booking a return visit very soon. Who says vegetarian has to be about tofu and nut butters?
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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