Perched on the corner of Wellington Street in Sheung Wan is Miss Lee, a Chinese restaurant keen to disrupt commonly meat-heavy Cantonese cuisine in Hong Kong with health-conscious, plant-based alternatives that do not compromise on quality or taste.
Miss Lee is the third ‘Lee’ restaurant to join ZS Hospitality Group‘s lineup, alongside Lee Lo Mei and Lee Ho Sing — all dedicated to recreating the city’s Cantonese flavours through innovative twists.
The concept of Miss Lee is simple: The idea is to present modern vegetarian cuisine cooked with healthy, wholesome ingredients using traditional Chinese cooking methods. While the menu is geared towards plant-based diners in mind (with plenty of vegan, gluten-free or Buddhist-friendly items on offer), the tasty and filling dishes claim to leave even the biggest meat-eaters satisfied.
The interior of Miss Lee was designed by Hong Kong- and Manila-based firm JJ Acuna and Bespoke Studio, seating 42 in the quaint 1,100 sq.ft. space. The space is brimming with traditional Hong Kong motifs, textures and colours reinterpreted in a modern way. A Star Ferry shade of green coats the bar and the restaurant façade, thickly hand painted for authentic tactile quality, while the hatched chair backs subtly add to the nostalgic Hong Kong feel. The blush pink walls are complemented by accents of warm yellow, tying into the green for a retro-chic finish, while the walls are adorned with minimalistic illustrations for a modern touch. Meanwhile, the lights are sourced from across Denmark, New Zealand, London and the Philippines, and work in conjunction with each another to create a playful, warm and enticing atmosphere.
Food & Drink
For our meal at Miss Lee, we tried the Chef’s Signature Menu, a three-course set menu available with a juice or wine pairing. We opted for the juice pairing, and began our journey with ‘Can’t Beet’ — a concoction of apple, beetroot, lemon and ginger — a mildly sweet yet refreshing palate cleanser.
Appetisers, mains and desserts have each been assigned a designated nickname, adding to the quirky character of the establishment. For appetisers (coined ‘Miss Canapé’), we were served the ‘Smoky Quartz’ and ‘Flower Bouquet.’ The former is served in a small wooden box housing mixed skewers of asparagus, king oyster and shiitake mushrooms, accompanied by the aroma of applewood smoke wafting through the air. Meanwhile, ‘Flower Bouquet’ is a jewel-toned ‘floral’ arrangement of pickled cucumber, beetroot, shiitake mushroom, julienned carrot and cabbage. Already a satisfying medley of textures and tastes, the accompanying vegan sesame sauce elevates this dish to the next level. Both dishes were a pleasant start to the meal, and left us excited for what was to come.
Moving on to the sharing dishes, termed ‘Miss Bijou,’ we were greeted by ‘Misty Veil,’ a vegetarian take on a classic Shanghainese cold dish of shredded chicken and mung bean noodles with sesame sauce. Here, the shredded chicken is replaced by king oyster mushrooms. The mushrooms offered a nice bite; and were a perfect textural substitute for chicken, while the cold, sweet sesame sauce is an ideal binding ingredient to meld it all together. In contrast, ‘Golden Flowers’ is toasty and rich, consisting of fried cauliflower drizzled with salted egg yolk placed atop braised mushroom and a sweet pumpkin purée. As someone partial to anything salted egg yolk, I thoroughly enjoyed this dish: The crispy cauliflower acting as a thick, meaty sponge to sop up any spilled sauce. To wash it all down was the next juice on the list: ‘The Green Ranger,’ a dark green juice comprising lime, green apple, spinach and cucumber.
The mains (‘Miss Mighty’) arrived alongside the final juice pairing, ‘Tropical Passion,’ a sweet, bright juice blending carrot, pineapple, passionfruit and turmeric. We dug into the one notably ‘Western’ item on the menu — ‘Fungi Farm,’ a pearl barley risotto served with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms in a creamy black truffle sauce and topped with parmesan crisps. This dish is thick and creamy without being too heavy. The variety of mushrooms added an earthy, umami flavour while the barley added a delightful, almost al dente texture. The parmesan crisps added to the textural play for an all-round winner.
I was rather disappointed with the ‘Lotus Leaf,’ a glutinous and brown rice mixture steamed in the eponymous leaf, served with a side dish of elm fungus and bean curd in a soy and mala sauce. Albeit a healthier alternative, the addition of brown rice had both dried out the dish as well as muted the flavours. Comparing this to steamed glutinous rice with chicken, a personal favourite of mine that’s commonly found at dim sum parlours, I felt as though the Miss Lee rendition left much to be desired.
Plunging forward to the ‘Miss Sweety’ portion of the menu for dessert, I was excited to try the ‘Hawthorn Tree,’ where mascarpone cream is sandwiched between chocolate sponge cake slices and topped with a scoop of homemade hawthorn and apple sorbet. The sponge cake was soft, moist and fluffy, nicely balancing out the richness of the mascarpone cream, though less indulgent than I would have liked for a chocolate cake. The sorbet was vaguely reminiscent of the haw flakes I loved to snack on as a child, although the dominating apple flavour in this sorbet was slightly overpowering.
I fully believe that healthy dishes can also be indulgent and moreish: In a balancing act between healthfulness and satisfaction, Miss Lee shows that you can have both. Aside from a miss here and there, Miss Lee is overall a refreshing and affordable choice, especially when keeping location, quality and overall ambience in mind. It has also shown itself to be far more than just for vegetarians or those with diet restrictions — anyone seeking healthy yet creative options when dining out is sure to be satisfied by its offerings. The restaurant upholds a devotion to the craft of Cantonese cuisine, while still allowing for innovation within the canon of plant-based ingredients — a difficult task indeed. Meanwhile, the venue and dishes are liberally sprinkled with quintessential Hong Kong elements, providing hits of comforting nostalgia amidst a modern and chic setting.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, noon–10pm.
Recommended Dishes: ‘Misty Veil,’ ‘Golden Flowers’ and ‘Fungi Farm.’
Price: HK$288 per person for the Chef’s Signature Menu, a three-course set menu available with juice pairing (HK$128) or wine pairing (HK$138).
Noise Level: Moderate.
Service: Quick and attentive.