Cafe Society

Lee's Garden gets ousted by the swoop of the Chinese scoop

For the love of Buddha, what the hell is so appealing about the Chinese joints that promise a scoop of substandard sesame chicken for next to nothing? Yesterday, while driving down Federal, I saw the same sign that you see in the above snap and nearly crashed.

Instead, I cried. And cursed. And eventually, I got out of the car and slowly walked toward the door of what was now Wok Express, the new occupant at 2990 West Mississippi, and the former pad of the short-lived Lee's Garden, a hardcore Chinese joint whose menu was mostly a board of Shanghai specialties and fun stuff like fish heads and pigs' blood. And whose sesame pockets garnered a spot on our list of 100 Favorite Dishes.

Those are gone, as are the soup dumplings, the excellent hot and sour soup and the fire pots. In their place? An assembly line setup hawking sesame chicken, kung pao chicken, eggrolls and every other food court faux Chinese dish you can imagine, all of which are priced per scoop, starting at $1.38.

One word: Ick.

If there's a silver lining to any of this, it's that Chopsticks China Bistro, which also occupied the same address as Lee's Garden before relocating to Greenwood Village (5117 South Yosemite Street), is owned by the brother who ran Lee's Garden. The menu at Chopsticks is similar, if not a bit sullied by the suburbanites. Still, at least you can get your xiǎolóngbāo, which you'll never find at Wok Express.

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Lori Midson
Contact: Lori Midson