By Patrick Hood and Caitlyn Letterii
Join Caitlyn Letterii and Patrick Hood, co-heads of marketing for Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band, as they explore and critique the cheap eats available around the Bronx and Rose Hill campus.
For those of you not in the know, Sweet ‘n’ Sour’s very own Caitlyn Letterii is currently taking a class all about Chinese history. To get the most out of this four-credit class, we figured we should tackle a Chinese food restaurant in this week’s review. That’s how we ended up at Lee’s Chinese Restaurant, a little hole in the (Great) wall.
PH: I have actually been to Lee’s on one previous occasion, though I shudder to tell the tale.
CL: Don’t worry Pat, I’m (halfheartedly) here for you.
PH: It was a dark and stormy night, and I had just been notified that I had been left a large, abandoned mansion in a long lost uncle’s will. I had no desire to live in the place, and in fact intended to sell it as soon as I could and invest in government bonds; however, as a stipulation of the will, I was required to spend at least one night in the house for it to be legally mine. Thus began the most terrifying night of my life.
CL: Let me translate— Patrick was hungry and ate at Lee’s one time, then texted me about it as a potential review spot because it has wild interior decorating and crazy names for some menu items. Patrick ordered a “Seafood Loveboat” and did not enjoy it, and now we return to the scene approximately five months later to review!
PH: Well, yeah, I guess that’s one way to put it. Kind of loses the poetry of it. However, you are right about the decor in Lee’s. For some strange reason, there are many photos of models standing in front of luxury homes. Don’t know why, I mean, are they ads for houses? If so, why are they in a restaurant? Or is there some sort of niche modelling market for serenely smiling women photoshopped in front of huge mansions?
CL: The world may never know. Anyways, we should probably actually begin reviewing the food.
PH: Oh that’s easy. It was terrible.
CL: Shhh. We’re professionals here! Okay, so there are tons of options to choose from, and I would recommend giving the menu a thorough onceover before making your final decision. I went with veggie lo mein, and we shared an appetizer of veggie fried dumplings, however, had I been wise enough to flip the menu over, I would have noticed all the fun and fab lunch specials they have to offer!
PH: The dumplings were actually NTS (not too shabby) but, sadly, the same cannot be said of my entree, which was misleadingly named ‘happy family’. I say misleading because it was about as happy as the Ramsey family circa 1996.
CL: That seems extreme.
PH: Shhh. The happy family was an amazingly bland mixture of shrimp, crab, beef, pork and chicken, since apparently Lee’s was taking an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach to this meal. Despite the fact that it contained such a diverse array of meats, it somehow all tasted the same (probably due to the paradoxically bland and overpowering sauce that covered everything). All in all, Lee’s disappointed me yet again, and this time I didn’t even get the pleasure of saying I ate something called a seafood loveboat.
CL: I’m really sorry you had such a bad experience, because I really liked everything I had. The lo mein was generously portioned, well-seasoned and an overall success. As for our veggie dumplings, when eaten plain they were a little bland, but once paired with the provided dipping sauce and a bit of hot sauce, they were a true delight.
PH: I tried adding hot sauce to my meal to shake things up and found myself confounded, since Lee’s apparently doesn’t stock Sriracha or even regular hot sauce like every other Chinese food place ever. No, instead of those completely reasonable options Lee’s had Frank’s Redhot buffalo sauce, which is truly strange to pair with Chinese cuisine.
CL: Quit being such a negative nelly, I thought it showed creativity and inventiveness on their part.
PH: Well I think it’s time to make like a burrito robot and wrap things up. That’s right ladies and gentlebugs, time for those patented Sweet ‘n’ Sour ratings you all dream about.
CL: Pat are you having a stroke?!
PH: Maybe! Due to the terribleness of both meals I’ve ordered at the Life and Times of Juniper Lee’s, I’ve got no choice but to give it a Sour rating of 2 out of 5 stars. The only things preventing me from giving it a lower rating are those beguiling ladies in front of houses, along with the fact that I should probably stop picking my entrees based on what has the funniest name on the menu.
CL: I found [Jamie] Lee’s [Curtis] to be charming. The employees were kind, the food served quickly, the decor invigorating and, because I ordered normal things I knew I would enjoy (cough, Pat), my meal was pretty good. Was it the greatest lo mein/dumpling combo in the world? No. But it was cheap and filling. I give Lee’s a Sweet Rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. I give my review partner, Patrick, a SOUR rating of 1 out of 5 stars for cheating himself out of a tasty meal by ordering something totally wacky.
PH: Seafood loveboat (comedy rule of threes baby!).
Try the fried dumplings with a lil’ bit of sauce.
Pass on the Happy Family (not in the literal sense) and the Seafood Loveboat.
Lee’s Chinese Restaurant
629 E 187th Street
Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Fri & Sat 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-11 p.m.