Lee Kee – Another Shining Star In Dublin's Burgeoning 'Chinatown'
Blink and you'd miss it – and that would be a huge shame
There isn't a day that goes past where I don't get a press release about a new restaurant.
Pimped out hotdogs, boutique hotels or the latest imported American franchise, the list goes on. And while some of those are amazing, I get the real joy of writing here from discovering little gems on the back streets of Dublin.
Lee Kee is one such place. It's the sort of place where you get the impression they'd never so much as consider using a PR company – and indeed, their thirst for attention is so low that they have no social media presence or even a website.
The location of Lee Kee on Parnell Street. Click here for map.
To be honest I've nearly been put off Chinese food for life by eating it in Ireland – largely because it usually comes served in plastic containers, slopped out from a buffet or lashed into us after 10 pints. Or, indeed, the morning after.
But that's been changing. M&L is a top spot, and lately I've been trying to eat my way through the various spots around Parnell Street and Moore Street.
I'm pretty sure if you came back to Dublin in 20 years' time, you'll have the golden dragons in this area welcoming people to Chinatown – in the same way you see in London or New York.
And while many places in the area keep it cheap and cheerful, and perhaps cater to Irish palates, Lee Kee is very different. Chinese staff were serving Chinese people food that looked about as far away from a three-in-one as you'll ever see.
We started with a spicy sour soup, which was perfectly fiery and seemed to have enough on the plate to feed a football team, including shrimp, tofu and chicken. It was probably the least appetising looking but at the same time best-tasting dish I've had in a long time.
It certainly won't be gracing any food porn sites any time soon.
Alongside that, our mixed plate of dumplings cost €8 and they were spilling over the edges – amazing value when you consider what the high-end places in town charge for five of them. Light, delicious and full of flavour; nothing beats that feeling of slurping the hot liquid out of a Chinese dumpling, and burning your tongue in the process.
My main consisted of the duck dish, pictured above, that came to the table simmering like a volcano. It was unbelievable but would have worked better with rice instead of the noodles I choose – my bad.
We also had a chicken cashew dish which was a winner, but if anything we could have been more adventurous in our ordering. As always in these sorts of places, the dishes going to the other tables looked more exciting – and I'll be back to pick some wild cards like the frog legs, duck tongue and offal.
Baby steps and all that!
I can see Irish people reading this, coming down for a feed and not agreeing with how good my review has been. One example would be the service, which was slow at best – particularly for those of us who have become accustomed to Irish "Chinese" food being served up in about 90 seconds.
Well yeah. Because it's been scooped from a huge MSG-stocked pot into a plastic container and whipped to me on a motorbike.
This, on the other hand, is the real deal with slow cooking and patience needed. Lee Kee is worth the visit – and I'd come hungry if I was you because everybody left with a doggy box full of food for the next day.