What's in a name: In China, Lily is pronounced Lee-lee. Here, she goes by Lily and is married to Lee Lei. As a child, Karalee was nicknamed Lee-Lee by her dad, who still calls her that. That's a lot of Lees.
About the food: The freshly made fare is pan-Chinese, not specific to one region, which is how Lily experienced the food of China growing up in Taiwan. You'll find spicy Sichuan flavors, pickled items, dumplings, and a classic version of hot and sour soup.
First time: At 20, Karalee opened her first restaurant — Wrapsody — a music venue that served wraps.
If only: A customer of Lily's returned from a visit in 1995 to Phoenix raving about the lettuce wraps he'd had at a new place called P.F. Chang's. Lily told him she had that on the menu — it was called ji soong (literally: chicken fluff). "I could have been P.F. Chang's if only I had invented the name lettuce wrap," she laughs.
Sprint to the open: They opened Lee Lee's in 75 days, lobbying the neighborhood for support in getting all the permits and licenses they needed to open a full-service restaurant so close to Burke High School.
Must-try dish: Hang Sho Ro, the caramelized five-spice pork belly, is our favorite so far. We also like the honey garlic ribs and the spicy Sichuan wings an awful lot.
Deals: During weekday lunch, get entrée, rice, and soup for $11.95.