Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dim Sum Workshop with Chef Susur Lee at Luckee [VIDEO]

Not many people can say that they've made dim sum with chef Susur Lee before. Like actually making Siu Mai dumplings with chef Lee side-by-side, in his kitchen, and learning the trade (similar to a semi-private lesson if you will). Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, right? So imagine my excitement when I received an invitation to Lee's newest restaurant, Luckee, for a two-hour exclusive dim sum workshop with the Chef! Not only did we get to experience firsthand how to make a few of Chef's key dishes, we also indulged in some dim sum and a delicious Luckee cocktail! But more on that later.

Luckee Restaurant and Bar (Twitter: LuckeeTO, Facebook: Luckee) headed by chef Susur Lee (@susurlee) and situated at SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in Toronto, serves upscale, modernized Chinese cuisine with dim sum service around-the-clock. Luckee's "Nouvelle Chinoise" menu offers classic dishes and refined dim sum from the culinary traditions of Guangzhou, Hunan and Szechuan regions, updated and enhanced by chef Lee. 

Luckee’s interiors subtly blend accents of imperial red and wall-to-wall panels of dynastic architecture, with a nod to 20th century Chinoiserie.

The restaurant has an open kitchen dim sum bar surrounded by high-top seating that opens to the kitchen, inviting diners to watch working chefs (most of the tables and high-tops were removed that day to make room for the workshop).

An 18-seat private dining room behind those large screens is available for special events and custom-designed menus.

Before our dim sum workshop, Lee explained that his desire to transform the comforting and recognizable recipes of traditional Chinese food with a modern touch was inspired by his travels throughout Asia, notably Guangdong, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Singapore. From there, Lee wanted to present Chinese cuisine at its most sophisticated levels - as it is currently practiced in Asia - for food lovers in Toronto.

Can't start a dim sum workshop without some dim sum. Clockwise from top left: Crispy Spring Rolls, Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gow), Noodle Salad, and Chicken Rice Roll (Cheung Fun). Yum!

A short clip of chef Lee telling us about the inspiration behind his Noodle Salad.

After the dim sum we headed for the kitchen.

The set-up for our dim sum workshop.

The first thing we learned how to make was Chicken & Shrimp Dumplings (Sui Mai) a.k.a. 鮮蝦雞肉燒賣.

Trust me, making Siu Mai is not easy especially if you want them to look nice. Chef Lee is not in the picture but that's his arm on the left. He basically has the filling and dumpling wrapper held upside down with a knife. Yeah that's one of the steps in making the dumpling. Not an easy feat I tell ya.

We finished the Sui Mai's off by placing scallops on top of each one.

Next up, something sweet! Chocolate Custard Steamed Sponge Rolls a.k.a. 朱古力馬拉卷.

Not as nice as the ones Chef made but meh, ready for the steamer nevertheless.

 While our precious dim sum were steaming away, Kai Bent-Lee, son of chef Lee, gave us a brief demonstration on how to make Luckees "Ricky Rose Sangria". Kai, who owns Bent Restaurant on Dundas, is also responsible for the wine and cocktail program at Luckee.

Once the Sui Mai's and Custard Sponge Rolls were ready, we devoured them right away (best when hot remember!) Traditionally made with pork, these shrimp and chicken dumplings were a welcoming twist. I find them not as dense nor hard as some of the pork Sui Mai's I've had elsewhere; the shrimp really gave them a nice, bouncy texture. Oh, in case you didn't notice we added truffles to our them too :)

Hot chocolate custard sponge rolls. Seriously, how can they not be tasty? The added chocolate makes this dessert a much sweeter one compared to the usual plain 馬拉卷 served at other dim sum restaurants. 

There was no way I was gonna leave without taking a SELFIE WITH SUSUR :D

A HUGE thanks to Luckee and chef Susur Lee for such a fun and memorable time! I'm really looking forward to eating at Luckee very soon.