MELBOURNE | When a new restaurant opens, it can be hard to gauge whether it’s going to be good or not based on the menu. A Brunswick favourite of mine, Nepalese restaurant Shimbu, closed this year. Its been replaced by new opening Mr. Lee Malaysian Cuisine.
I love Malaysian food, but when I saw the menu in the window I wasn’t sure about Mr Lee. Words like salted egg, sambal, and char kway teow got me excited. The presence of crispy spring rolls, sweet and sour pork and lemon chicken, less so. Basically, this could go either way.
I was still keen to give Mr Lee a shot, and when a Malaysian friend of mine reported favourably about his meal, I was sold.
Mr Lee is owned by Jack Lee, originally from Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands, and his wife Liddy. His family run a farm that supplies restaurants with fresh produce in Malaysia, and Jack’s mum ran a hawker food stall over there for 20 years. As you’d imagine, a passion for good food runs through Jack’s veins.
A few years ago, Jack sold his Malaysian restaurant in Melton, and was working casual jobs until the pandemic hit. The Shimbu location came up in a part of town that doesn’t really have good Malaysian options, so Jack decided to bite the bullet and get back into the restaurant game.
He wants to offer locals great food, service and atmosphere at an affordable price. In fact, the only real criticism I had with my experience was that the servings were probably too generous, and the pricing too keen! Great for customers, but sustainable in the long term? I guess you don’t argue with the uncle in the kitchen right!
So what exactly did I order? I started with the salted egg fried soft shell crab, before moving on to the Marmite (in this case Vegemite) chicken ribs, and char kway teow. All great versions of classic Malaysian favourites.
Order right at Mr Lee, and you’ll have a very enjoyable meal. And if you’re wondering about all of the pretty flower arrangements in the venue, Jack’s brother does them for weddings and events, so putting some together for the restaurant was a no brainier.
Mr. Lee Malaysian Cuisine
58 Lygon Street
Tue – Sun: 11:00am to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to 9:00pm