There is something about polar vortex-like weather that screams Chinese food. It’s as if the winds have carried over scents from the streets of Beijing, urging me to find chopsticks. Finding Chinese food, until now, has not been an easy thing to do in Charleston, South Carolina. While Charleston does offer an array of seafood, southern and American restaurants, it seems as though they are just now getting a bit of diversity. I mean, hello? Where is a girl supposed to get Indian, French, Thai, Greek, and Spanish cuisine? I give you kudos for trying, Charleston, but we need more than one option for each. I’m spoiled from growing up in the suburbs of D.C., where the issue wasn’t trying to find a place to get my fix of a certain cuisine, it was trying to decide between which one.
Lee Lee’s Hot Kitchen came in at a perfect time for my cold comfort food needs. On the day before the first snow I’ve seen in Charleston, when the winds came sweeping in and the palm trees furrowed up their mighty leaves, I made my way to Lee Lee’s. It is here that I felt warmth from the fiery red of the interior, with electrically colored images of Chinese graphics.
I had to start with a hot and sour soup, although this was dangerous, because one taste of soup could have been the tell-tale sign that the restaurant didn’t live up to my dreams (insert sentence where I am a soup-fanatic here). The soup was just how I like it: tangy, peppery and delicious. My date dined on crab rangoon and they were all gone before he could muster the strength to give me a victorious thumbs up. This was hitting the spot.
For entrees, we shared ginger beef and kung pao chicken. The ginger beef had a great flavor, but the meat seemed to have been flash fried for a few flashes too long, resulting in more breading than beef. It was still delicious, though it tasted more like a vegetarian dish. The kung pao chicken was crunchy: with miniature vegetables such as baby corns, water chestnuts, Szechuan peppers, peanuts, celery and peppers.
Will we be back? Yes. Not because of the few choices of Chinese restaurants in Charleston, but because it was genuinely delicious (and comforting).
Who I would take as my date: Anyone who associates cold weather with the need for Chinese food