Sunday, February 13, 2011

LEE'S THAI SPRING ROLL: 1512 Queen Street West - 416-532-2877

Outside Lee's Thai
Spring Roll restaurant

Remember the time when movie director Tim Burton used to be great?  For me, I mark Sleepy Hollow as the turning point.  Before that movie his career was on such an upward trajectory.  With amazing movies like Edward Scissorhands, Batman, Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, it seemed like the man could do no wrong.  I remember seeing Sleepy Hollow and, in addition to being amazingly bored throughout, thinking that he's starting to turn into a parody of himself.  His subsequent movies like Planet of the Apes, Corpse Bride, and Sweeny Todd seemed to prove me right (however, like most men I know, I have a weak spot for Big Fish...but its hardly a classic).  Then came along the movie that, if you asked me in 1998, I would have said he was born to make: Alice in Wonderland.  Based on Lewis Carroll's classic book for both children and adults, he's working with such amazingly rich and layered subject matter.  Its a sure fire deal.  So Jess and I got some Thai/Malaysian fusion takeout from Lee's Thai Spring Roll and sat down in front of the TV to watch what promised to be Tim Burton's Citizen Kane.

It wasn't.  It was awful.

Mango Chicken
And so was Lee's Thai Spring Roll.

Although Lee's Thai Spring Roll wasn't as horrible as Alice in Wonderland, but that's not saying much.

It pains me to write bad reviews.  I started this blog because I love my neighbourhood and eating at restaurants and I wanted to find those hidden gems that I might otherwise walk past.  Those alleyway restaurants that look like shit on the outside but serve food that tastes like heaven.  But I'm sorry Lee's Thai Spring Roll, we gave you TWO tries and both times you seriously disappointed. 

Tofu and Asparagus with
Mushroom Soya Sauce
Jess and I had eaten there a few months before I started this blog and we remembered the food as being, well, pretty crappy.  However we thought it might have just been comparatively crappy.  We often eat from The Friendly Thai on Roncesvalles and have our usual orders pretty well set there.  And for our first visit to Lee's Thai Spring Roll, we basically ordered the same thing we usually order at The Friendly Thai.  In comparison it failed in every way.  But really, that's not fair.  Restaurants should be judged on their stand alone merits, no?  Perhaps we were just demanding that over-sugared curried phad thai that The Friendly Thai does so well.  So for this visit, we ordered from the "Chef Recommends" portion of the menu and tried a few items we had never tried before.  I mean if the chef specifically recommends these dishes, they have to be the best dishes of the house, no?

The free Phad Thai
So we ordered the following: a Tom Yum Noodle Soup with seafood which is basically a soup with rice noodle, lemon grass, lime juice, and chili; Tofu and Asparagus with Mushroom Soya Sauce; the Mango Chicken dish which is lightly stir-fried chicken and shrimp with slices of fresh mangos and assorted vegetables.  We also ordered a couple of spring rolls and got a free Phad Thai as a reward for not eating at the restaurant and spending more than 35 bucks, I think.

Hmmm....writing a bad review is hard.  Its so much easier to discuss the qualities you like rather than the what you disliked.  I suppose I'll start off with the only dish that wasn't bad...the Tom Yum Noodle Soup.  It was a pretty nice soup, nothing great, but really packed with flavour.  Often soups with lemon grass can be overpowering but this one managed to walk that fine line between being full flavoured while not being overpowering.  The seafood in the soup was ok but nothing particularly spectacular.  Unfortunately the whole meal went downhill from there.

The decor.
The mango chicken dish was awful.  Sour and flavourless at the same time (yeah I didn't know that was possible either!!!).  The accompanying vegetables were way overcooked and the "fresh" mango was hardly fresh and cooked to shit as well!  The tofu and asparagus dish was almost passable but it lacked anything memorable.  There wasn't a hint of mushroom flavour anywhere to be found in the "mushroom soya sauce" (which makes it just soya sauce), the deep fried tofu looked old and tasted bland, and the asparagus was undercooked.  And the free phad thai?  The one Thai dish that is reeeeeeaaaaallllly difficult to screw up?  Well there's no other way of saying this so I'll just say it.  It tasted like baby vomit.  A horrible mix of peanut flavouring, Gerber baby food, and bile.  Honestly that's the best way I can describe it.  Really awful.

I'm sorry Lee's Thai Spring Roll.  Please don't hate me.  I'm sure you have a wonderful personality (and actually the decor in the restaurant was lovely). We might go see another Tim Burton movie, but we definitely won't be visiting you again.  I believe there are far better Thai food options in our neighbourhood.  And stay tuned for those!

Rating: 1.5


  1. I just discovered your blog while searching for Parkdale restaurant recommendations. I moved to the area about two months ago and my boyfriend and I are in need of guidance.

    I started scrolling through the list of review to see if our tastes were similar. On the night I moved to the neighbourhood, I was craving Thai and ordered from Lee's Thai Palace. A curry pad thai fan, I order that dish as well as the veggie spring rolls and the fresh rolls. It was one of, if not the worst Thai experiences of my life.

    Just a few days ago, I ordered from The Friendly Thai and had already decided it's my go-to Thai place due to great food and amazing service.

    I think this blog and I will get along just fine.

  2. Daniel, you did not eat at every restaurant in Parkdale. In fact, you are at many far, far away from Parkdale. Nonetheless, you’ve created an important document, of a neighbourhood that has changed dramatically. Save it. The Parkdale we knew is gone.