Saturday, 18 August 2012

Lee Central Park Chinese Restaurant - Unit 18A - 20A, 4 Central Ave, Thornleigh

It’s my Grandpa Lee's 93rd birthday and we are eating out at his favourite restaurant, the name is just a coincidence. I think I mentioned this in one of my previous posts, but Lee Central Park Chinese is one of those restaurants we have been going to for an easy 10 years. It’s close to where my Grandpa lives and where I grew up. When you’re onto a good thing why change right? I used to be so sick of this place but as I ashamedly say, I go back home less often than I should, so now I look forward to making the trek over the bridge for some good old Chinese fare. Although I’m thinking next family get together I need to take everyone to the newly opened Mr. Wong. Which funnily enough is my other grandpa’s name! 

Anyway after all these years I’m going to actually think about what I am eating and try to write about the dishes (that I have eaten so many times before) constructively and try and convince some readers to try this Chinese institution in the Hills. 

Ok, so I’m writing the rest of this later in the week. Do you know that at most proper Chinese restaurants you get a free starter soup? What we had was a clear soup of pork bones with carrot. Apparently very nourishing. I love this soup. It’s so simple and tasty with the soft carrot and bits of fall off the bone pork meat. (Sorry bad photo, I forgot to take it at the start). I don’t know how such good flavour gets into this slightly cloudy liquid of goodness. Must find this out from my mum. 

For some reason we decided to order another soup . . . oh, it was a freezing cold night, that’s why my dad wanted it I guess. Glad he did, as it was a yummy brown thick liquid, which consisted of shredded duck meat, dried scallops, bamboo shoots, tiny strips of black fungus for some crunch and shitake mushrooms. It’s the “non” shark fin version of shark fin soup. I love this soup with red vinegar. It’s the best! You need the sharpness to cut through the salty thickness of it all. Seriously if you haven’t had shark fin soup and the thought of it repulses you then you need to try this duck one instead. It’s delish and a 3rd of the price. I rate it 8.5/10

As always we order a whole heap of dishes to share. I don’t get people who go to Chinese and Thai restaurants and only order 1 dish to themselves! It’s crazy. The idea is to share people! Although I understand there are food conditions. Anyway we order the following. . . .

Battered pork ribs stir-fried in plum sauce (the non Western version of sweet and sour pork) – Love this as the bones in the ribs make it a tastier version of just pork chunks. Sweet but salty and the chunks of capsicum and pineapple give it some crunch and a feeling of a little healthiness in there. 7/10

Tofu hotpot with cabbage – Subtle flavour of oyster sauce and garlic. I like the big chunks of cabbage and the fried tofu that have gone all soft from the cooking in the mini clay pot. This tastes better with chilli sauce. 6.5/10 

Wasabi beef – A kind of new addition to the Chinese menu. New as in 5 years ago it appeared on menus after eating Chinese my whole life. Thanks Japan. This version was a good version, salty and the right amount of hotness from the wasabi. Also the meat was soft and not chewy at all, which it can be at other places. 8/10.

Stir-fry of sugar snap peas and scallops in XO sauce – Love the freshness of the peas, totally cooked perfectly and the scallops were pretty juicy too. Only thing wrong, there wasn’t enough hit of the XO sauce. I added chilli sauce. 8/10 

Braised barramundi with re-hydrated tofu sheets and pickled cabbage – This is a dish you have to try. It’s a whole barra steamed with a black bean sauce. In this sauce is the tofu sheets which is a weird texture to describe. I suppose it’s like a slightly chewy piece of rice noodle, but it’s tofu. I don’t know you got to try it. This along with the sweet salty cabbage is great; oh I shouldn’t forget the fish. You’d think the sauce and all the other elements would over power the fish, but all the flavours and textures work so well. This version is great, but there is another version with bitter melon that I love too. 8.5/10

Honey prawns – Ok, so I admit Asians do order the Western dishes too. And I admit this was my choice for the dinner. I was craving some sweetness and I know that Lee Central do good honey prawns. The batter is light and crunchy coated lightly in the sticky honey and the prawns are a good size. 8/10.

Snow pea sprouts with shitake and abalone mushrooms – We always have to have a vege dish. This kind of braised vege is with a garlic and oyster sauce of course and slightly thick from the corn-flour addition which Asian food is so known for. Some chefs are pretty heavy handed with this which totally turns me off, but that’s another story. The mushrooms on top are a good addition and add more flavour to the sauce. The abalone mushrooms have a very strong flavour and are quite chewy, just like abalone! 6.5/10

White fungus sweet soup – This is free too, but we were still all a bit disappointed when this big bowl came out. We were all hoping for red bean soup dessert. Oh well. It’s a pretty sweet clear soup with chunks of clear jelly-fish like fungus. Again this sweet “soup” has good health properties. This one is supposedly good for cleansing the liver. I so need a liver detox but I only eat 3 mouthfuls, I just don’t like it. 4/10

For my Grandpa's birthday we specially ordered the Longevity buns.   They are meant to be peaches which traditionally represent immortality and long life.  They are bouncy fluffy balls of dough, tastes like the BBQ pork buns from yum-cha but with a lotus sweet bean paste in the middle. I was so full, but I had to eat it to be polite.  

Not sure how many people who read this will go to Thornleigh. But if you’re going to be in the area give it a go. It is a good reliable Chinese restaurant at reasonable prices.  Mains from $17 up to $100 for the market price of seafood by the kilo.  It’s good that the owners know how to be hospitable to both the traditional Chinese customers and numerous tables of Westerners too who are enjoying themselves, which is great to see.

Lee Central Park Chinese Restaurant on Urbanspoon


  1. What a great review! Detailed, that is what i like. Food looks good in that restaurant.

    1. Thanks! Much appreciated. I go to Brisbane a bit can you recommend any good Chinese restaurants?

  2. The colors in some of the foods is just gorgeous, you can almost taste the food with your eyes. Although some seems slightly oily its a nice clean oil not a yellow grease. I think I should especially like to try the longevity buns as I am from Georgia which is the Peach state!

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes you should try and find a Chinese restaurant that makes the longevity buns for sure.


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