4 Bruntsfield Place
Tel: 0131 229 7732
If you’re going to run a credible Chinese takeaway, there are certain prerequisites that must be met. The most obvious one is that the staff should actually be Chinese, preferably with a smattering of illegal immigrants, who tend to make superior chefs. It is also obligatory to show Steven Seagal movies on a small colour television above the counter and to dish out complimentary prawn crackers with orders over £15. Those are the basics. Anything above that – say, food that actually tastes of food, as opposed to greasy, defrosted MSG-laden fodder, is a bonus.
Lee On is a Bruntsfield takeaway that meets all the relevant criteria with ease. This unassuming restaurant doesn’t just serve Chinese food – it serves its people too. That many of the Chinese community should choose to eat here is testament to the restaurant’s authenticity. This Asian seal of approval should not be mistaken for a guarantee of quality however. Just because a nation gives its own cuisine the thumbs up doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily fresh and tasty. As a case in point, any tourists observing Scottish eating habits as a dining guide would holiday on a diet of Greggs sausage rolls and chips ‘n’ cheese.
There is one other condition that all aspiring Chinese restaurants should observe – the food should arrive promptly, but not too promptly or you’ll know it’s been microwaved. Once again Lee On get it right. The dishes we sampled all hit the spot, without being so ridiculously tasty as to blow our little cotton socks off. In practice, it is impossible to truly rate a restaurant based on a small sample of dishes, just as it is impossible to rate Eastern Europe’s libido based on an amorous Polish housekeeper you met on a business trip.
While the food is perfectly enjoyable, the best thing about Lee On, of course, is that its name is a semordnilap (Google it) of No Eel. That alone should be reason enough to furnish this place with your custom. Should the shredded beef turn out to be surprisingly succulent, it will be merely a lagniappe in comparison to the pleasure elicited by such facetious wordplay.
Try: Eating your meal using chopsticks, those long wooden things that girls wear in their hair.
Avoid: Mixed Meat with Beancurd. It sounds like something you wouldn’t want to sink your canines into. (That’s canines as in teeth by the way. Good heavens, do you really think we’d dare compare Chinese food to dog meat?)
Useless information: Once upon a time, Leon was just a decent film; these days it’s also a decent restaurant.
Main dishes around £5
£1.60 for rice or chips
Set dinners for two to four persons, from £20
Seating available for dining in. Takeaway service also for collection or delivery.
Mon-Sat 12pm-2pm, 5:30pm-midnight