Lee's Garden

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Lee's Garden is a modest Chinese restaurant near our home in San Leandro. It's so modest that with its cheap tables and chairs, box-like dining room and tiny open-kitchen, it reminded me of a myriad of little restaurants in the developing world. I haven't been to China, but I've seen places like Lee's everywhere from Guatemala, to India to Thailand, right down to the dirty tables.

Lee's prices are also third-worldish. Its lunch specials, which include soup, crispy noodles (they look like friend wonton strips), steamed rice, fried rice or chow mein and an entree cost $3.80 to $4.95 (the more expensive dishes are shrimp-based). Regular entrees are also more than affordable, averaging $6. The menu includes your basic Chinese American favorites, which you'd expect to find at your neighborhood Chinese restaurant.

We've gotten Lee's take-out for lunch a few times, but we don't usually go there because it's mostly a lunch place. It's closed on weekends and it closes early during the week. This time (March 2004) Mike was home for lunch and we decided to go there for lunch.

Mike had the BBQ pork with scrambled egg and I ordered the chicken with black bean sauce (though I'm pretty sure what I got was beef and not chicken). The food was surprisingly good given its price. There were no subtle flavors here, and I don't want to think about the quality of the ingredients given the price, but it was satisfying and tasted good. We both ordered the chow mein, but the steamed rice would have been better to catch the extra black bean sauce. The chow mein was good, though it had too many bean sprouts for my taste (that can be a plus for some, though).

Service was quite good, when Mika spilled a whole glass of water on the table the waitress/cook insisted on drying it herself. On the minus side, they don't have high chairs.

Lee's Garden
21 Thornton St.
San Leandro, CA