Like an unstoppable train, the Matt and Cat eating out guide is garnering recommendations for new places to try on a daily basis. Happy...

Like an unstoppable train, the Matt and Cat eating out guide is garnering recommendations for new places to try on a daily basis. Happy to respond to the metaphorical gauntlet thrown down by their readers, M and C ventured to darkest Sandown, specifically to Lee’s Chinese Kitchen – their sixth eating out place to be reviewed since the beginning of December. Far from grumbling about their expanding waistlines and rapidly emptying purses, M and C boldly went in to Lee’s…

Lee's Chinese Kitchen

…and, after a short wait, were greeted by a very friendly waiter who, quite frankly, seemed surprised to see them. He was even more surprised when they motioned to the dining area of the establishment and requested a table. There was no difficulty in finding one; the place was empty. However, it was early on a windy mid-week evening and, judging by the glittering lost sequin on the floor, Lee’s is sometimes buzzing with party-goers in their twinkly finery. A fact confirmed by the waiter. It was also notable that the takeaway side of the business was working briskly, with many satisfied customers coming and going through the separate entrance whilst Matt and Cat sat in solitary glory in the restaurant.

Apparently Lee’s restaurant is a new addition to the long-established and adjoining take-away “serving the community since 1984”, as it claimed. Certainly the place bristled with newness, with furniture, carpet and blinds seeming pretty fresh and the tables laid with pleasingly-designed paper placemats and small vases of fresh bright chrysanthemums.

The appearance of newness was slightly marred by the dog-eared menus. None-the-less, the waiter was very enthusiastic and even helped Matt choose the perfect rice to accompany his chicken and mushroom dish.

Nibbling on a complimentary serving of prawn crackers whilst they waited for their starters to arrive, Matt was entertained by the view of a pipe-smoking butcher in a shop on the other side of the road. Sandown… it’s like a trip back in time – an experience previously felt on a visit to Kate Cottage.

Cat’s crispy seaweed starter was beautifully presented in what looked like a hand-thrown bowl. The foliage was sprinkled with sesame seeds and topped with seafood powder. Intriguingly it was served with a teaspoon which made eating it a stringy adventure. It proved to be very tasty.

Matt, feeling daring, had spicy squid – deep fried tentacles with a potent batter, served piping hot with fresh spring onion. The waiter was quite concerned about Matt’s choice and voluntarily bought a jug of water to the table in case Matt’s Tiger beer was not up to the job of cooling his mouth. Matt, however, is made of asbestos and was able to not only eat, but very much enjoy, his squid. It was a delicious and unusual dish.

A short wait ensued. The main course arrived. Again, like Cat’s seaweed, the food was nicely presented; the waiter exposing the rice from under a lid with a flourish. Cat went for a rather safe mushroom chow mein. Alas, it was a bit too safe. The menu described it as mushrooms with noodles and bean sprouts – this was more like the recipe as that is all the ingredients the dish contained. The three ingredients had been swirled around a light sauce of some sort and also quite a lot of grease. It was tasty but a bit too slippery and boring. Perhaps a hint of finely chopped spring onion or the suggestion of egg would have added a bit of interest? However, in its favour, the mushrooms were nice and chunky.

Matt enjoyed his chicken and mushrooms with fried rice – at the recommendation of the solicitous waiter he had chosen a dish featuring a variety of mushrooms, but, rather as Cat found, the well-cooked meal was a little bland.

The waiter optimistically returned with the sweet menu but Matt and Cat declined. A rather long wait ensued without any amusing passers-by to gawp at. Matt eventually attracted the attention of the waiter who was flitting between the restaurant and the take-away. The bill arrived. It was paid for. They left. Cat experienced a curious after-taste from her chow mein and they stopped at the Co-op to buy pudding.

Lee’s is a very popular takeaway, and the new venture into sit-down dining is a commendable effort. Matt and Cat hope that the new restaurant settles in and becomes as popular as the rest of Lee’s Kitchen clearly is.

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  • Darren

    22nd September 2014 #1 Author

    Feeling hungry and my partner wanting to eat Chinese, we decided to try Lee’s instead of the more well known Royal China

    The Girls shared Peking Ribs, which they enjoyed thoroughly

    I decided to have the Salt And Chili Ribs, which the Waiter warned was very hot and hot it was. But they were fantastic and will def be going back for more pain from the Ribs

    Main Dishes were Chicken Chow Mein, Yung Chow Fried Rice and Singapore Vermicelli

    All dishes were excellent and the Singapore Vermicelli was a lot spicier than other places, which was nice to see, as often places dumb down the Spice, despite the dish supposedly quite spicy

    The Waiter who I assume was the Owner was very friendly and the Restaurant was very modern and clean

    Cannot speak highly enough of Lee’s and cannot wait to go back to tackle those Ribs again

    Reply

  • Steve

    26th May 2014 #2 Author

    Just been to lees kitchen I,o,w, me and my wife are big fans of Chinese food, and I hate to say it, but this is the only Chinese restaurant we have left without eating our food, we ordered water and got 2 glasses of tap water not bottled, spring rolls great, chicken and sweet corn soup, far too much thickener, it was like glue,
    But worst was the main coarse, beef and chicken curry, it had been under the heat lamp that long it had skinned over, the edges of the beef were dried up and there was so much curry powder added the entire meal was tasteless, hence after 5 mins, I asked for the bill, what a shocker.

    Reply

  • Gary

    30th June 2012 #3 Author

    First Class Take Away. The Restaurant is also very good. Delicious!!!

    Reply

  • Graeme Egerton

    8th December 2011 #4 Author

    We were heading to Lake the other week intending to visit Kimbo’s but the traffic queue on the Broadway seemed to be going nowhere. On heading home with heavy heart, we passed Lee’s and thought why not give them a go? I have to say we made an excellent choice and it was great value too. Having got used to Kimbo’s we’d not used Lee’s for a good six years, maybe more, but it won’t be that long before we go there again.

    Reply

  • Oz

    14th May 2011 #5 Author

    I like lee’s kitchen i go every now and again and the foods always nice. I think it’s better than the one in the high street.

    Reply

  • Chris

    13th March 2010 #6 Author

    I have their menu on my takeaways site at http://www.take-a-way.co.uk/menu/350/Lee%27s+Kitchen/
    does anyone want to submit a more current menu?

    Reply

  • Jess and James

    22nd September 2007 #7 Author

    HI

    Lee’s kitchen have now replaced the menus and the food has improved again.

    Please re visit.

    Jess and James

    Reply

  • alice

    22nd June 2007 #8 Author

    Hi, I also use Lee’s kitchen, mostly his takeaway, but often eat in. Everytime I have found no fault with the food. However, I did order a takeaway last week from his new memu and was disappointed with my choice. (my usual choice of Kung Po Prawns is no longer on the menu so I chose another chilli prawn dish) The prawns were not the usual moist and succulent ones I have come to know, but were tough and gritty and not at all pleasant. I have to admit I was disappointed, but it won’t stop me from using Lee’s takeaway or restaurant.

    Reply

  • James and Jess

    4th March 2007 #9 Author

    Jess and i dine at lees kitchen whenever we stay in the I O W we come every three months for 12 nights and stay at the lawns hotel in sandown.

    Lees Kitchen is Great The waiter is called Albert he is Lin Lees Husband (Lees Kitchen)

    James and Jessica Stephenson

    Reply