Lee’s Baozi is tucked away in a non-descript strip mall situated on El Toro Road in Lake Forest. You won’t find it if you’re not actually in the plaza, and especially if you’re not looking for it.
The restaurant is small, and offers a fast casual process whereby we order at the counter, and food is brought out to us when it is ready. Grab your own tea or water from the corner table, as well as utensils you’ll need for your meal.
Although the restaurant’s name suggests it specializes in baozi or buns of sorts, there are various dishes on the menu which are solid. One such dish is Cold Sliced Pork with Garlic Chili Sauce 蒜泥白肉($11.99) something I grew up eating. My mom makes it at home and everyone’s version is slightly different, but Lee’s Baozi’s is pretty spot on. I loved the robust savory flavors the dish imparts.
Seaweed in Vinegar ($3.89) possesses a lovely tartness with a hint of sweetness which is a refreshing respite to cleanse the palate in between bites of garlicky pork.
I wanted to try some of their 面食, which literally translates to noodles, but also includes anything that incorporates dough, such as dumplings, buns, breads, etc. For one, we wanted to try Juicy Pork XiaoLongBao ($7.89/9pcs) which are decent, but not fantastic. The wrapper is a little thick which is always a pet peeve of mine. However, it is prepared in the authentic way without adding more gluten to the flour so it is difficult to get it as thin as Din Tai Fung’s. Not one of my favorites.
Same goes for the Pork and Chive Dumplings ($8.89/10pcs). While the filling is good, the wrapper is again, too thick for my liking.
If you’re a fan of Dan Dan Noodles ($8.68) the one at Lee’s Baozi is worth ordering. It is a little thicker in consistency than authentic dan dan noodles, but flavor-wise, it is good, albeit a tad too much peanut sauce.
If you’re hankering for northern Chinese cuisine and live in south county, Lee’s Baozi suffices if you don’t want to drive. It satisfies in a pinch!
24602 Raymond Way
Lake Forest, CA 92630