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.
• T.O. icon tackles New York [Toronto Sun]
• Susur Lee: New Yorkers Just ‘Don’t Understand’
9 thoughts on “Susur Lee thinks Torontonians are more adventurous eaters than New Yorkers”
Sunsur speaks nothing but the truth
He ain’t good enough – plain and simple.
Sour grapes? I don’t think so. Susur still has a business to run in New York, and speaking out like this is not a move calculated to curry favour :)
It makes sense that Toronto would be more adventurous – it is hard to find a more diverse city, ethnically. 49.9% of Torontonians are foreign born, vs. 20.4% for New York, according to Wikipedia. This isn’t a subjective perspective, but a reality.
Well I hope Susur does well despite the challenges.
Nonetheless, I would never turn down a meal prepared by him.
I have had the pleasure of dining at his Toronto restaurant – everything was an absolute delite.
If he should run back to us it would be New York’s loss.
And their lack of sense of adventure is already their loss.
Perhaps they just need time to adjust., The economy aside, ggreat food and the Susur experience is in many ways priceless
yes it’s sour grapes, if things were going swimmingly for him then he’d be praising new yorkers tastes. really lame excuse. perhaps new yorkers aren’t as forgiving or as stunned by his fusiony tastes or the gaffes in his service team.
oh and as for the claims that new york isn’t ready for asian fusion, last time i looked sho shaunt hergatt was doing quite well-better location, better execution in the genre.
Susur’s cuisine is boring, period. Whether in Toronto, or, NYC, it doesn’t matter where, it’s overrated. New Yorkers much see what I see, according to Susur…
When Thomas Keller first opened Rakel restaurant in the early 90’s, it failed.
Thomas admitted failure: 80’s concept, timing (Wall Street crash) and location and ” I was young”.
Thomas learned and he came back and opened per se.
Thomas never blamed New Yorkers, he blamed himself.
Fusion cuisine is so passe. I think the focus nowadays is on fresh, simple cuisine and value. Even Gordon Ramsay is having trouble nowadays. Susur needs to adjust with the time or will be forgotten.
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