Susur Lee thinks Torontonians are more adventurous eaters than New Yorkers
Toronto will never be like New York, and for Susur Lee, that’s a good thing. The Toronto Sun caught up with Lee—who opened Shang in Manhattan a little over a year ago—to talk about New York’s restaurant biz. Despite the city being filled with rich and powerful foodies, Lee admits that it hasn’t been an easy ride and that diners are still pinching pennies. “It has been a very tough year,” Lee says, adding that he had to lower menu prices. “If I say everything is great, I’m lying to you. In New York, people are still driven by money, and they don’t want to show off their money in expensive restaurants right now. They feel the pressure.”
Lee also says that even though New York is considered to be on the cutting edge, the city is still behind when it comes to international cuisine. “People won’t go for chicken feet no matter how many truffles you stuff in there,” he says. “It’s a question of culture. On Asian cuisine, they are not that advanced.”
As a result, Susur tests out new recipes at Lee on King Street, where he says Torontonians are more likely to try new dishes. “People in Toronto are very open-minded due to the new generation of immigration. We are spoiled; you can find things fresh all the way from Vietnam that you will never be able to have in New York because the laws are too complicated.”
New Yorkers are not taking the comparison very well. Over at food blog Grub Street, ticked-off writers are inviting Lee for some pig’s blood soup in Chinatown, where he will soon be “forced to eat crow.”
Silly New Yorkers—crow isn’t part of Chinese cuisine.