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New Sky?

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After reading Joanne Kates' glowing review of New Sky in Saturday's Globe, I'm tempted to give it a shot. Have any of you eaten there? If so, does Ms. Kates' review accurately reflect the quality of the place? And do you have any specific food recs?

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  1. I have eaten there 3 or 4 times and agree with Kates review, I have always enjoyed their food. Although English is not their language of choice I have found the staff to be very helpful and it helps if you don't mind chosing some dishes by pointing at those on the nearby tables.
    If you search this Board you will find other comments some not as enthusiastic as mine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: George W.

      I've been twice and you need to pick the right dishes. I recommend searching the board for advice as I was unlucky. The hot & sour soup I rated in the top third of those tried i.e. fairly good but not outstanding.

    2. where is this place?

      1 Reply
      1. re: f.d.

        It's at 353 Spadina, which is just south of College.

      2. Hm. I wonder if this reply is coming too late. But anyway, I definitely recommend this place. My home is in Markham, so my family are close to many very decent Chinese restaurants, but my parents often make the trip downtown to go to New Sky. I don't really have any favourites to recommend, but you may want to know that their English menu is a bit less interesting, and more aimed at the Western eater, so having a Chinese friend (or... someone who knows Chinese) there may be helpful if you want to be more adventurous. If that's not possible, then yeah, as one of the other replies suggested, look at your neighbours' tables.

        1. Yep, New Sky is the real deal.

          I go there all the time with my Hong Kong girlfriend and her family. There's 6 of us, and they order the classic full Chinese dinner.. 6 or 7 courses covering soup, tofu/greens, scallops and tofu/black bean, crispy beef, lobster, and a steamed fish to finish off. If there's a group of you, get that family meal thingy.. it's cheap, plentiful and classic Chinese dinner hall fare.

          1. It's awesome. Get the lobster, dumpling soup, crispy beef, lemon chicken, XO beans, sliced chicken with eggplant is awesome. Little clams, steamed fish of the day, fried oysters, honey pepper beef ribs, any noodles.

            I have had favourites and less than, but never a bad dish.

            1. Here is my experience last night. Before dinner even began, my mom said she's doesn't care about coming back, because we waited for 30 minutes and the food still hasn't come yet (resataurent was almost full). I said maybe the food is worth the wait. Well, there were 2 hits, 1 ok, and 1 bad.

              The clams in sake is most delicious, two dozen fresh clams in a broth flavoured with sake, and just a hint of alcohol left to give it an extra kick. (This is a blackboard special, not sure if it's offered in English. Two other variations are spicy wine sauce and plain broth.) The oyster hotpot was also very yummy, lightly deep fried oysters in a fragrant sauce redolent of yellow wine. My mom's complaint was that it was full of onions and nothing else - other places may have lettuce leaves and lots of green onions - but I don't find it an issue. Free range chicken steamed in lotus leaf was rather plain. The lotus leaf flavour was hard to detect, and my dad questioned if it's really free range chicken as it was rather fatty and the flesh too tender. The worst dish of the evening was stir fried grouper. Too salty and has the texture and taste of fish that's been frozen too long.

              So I would visit again but maybe go earlier and avoid the crowds, and will definitely have the clams in sake!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Teep

                yeah, this certainly is not 'high end chinese'
                Who knows if it's free-range? I'm guesing that if they ran out, they wouldn't mention it unless asked specifically. However, I would expect steamed chicken to be fairly tender.

                I always go with the steamed fish. Generally is very well prepared. I've never waited 30 minutes for the first course there.. that's unusual.

                1. re: Teep

                  Incidentally E-Pan, a few doors up, is where one of the head chefs and some of the waiters from New Sky set up shop when they mutinied and left New Sky a number of months ago. The food is very similar, but slightly cheaper. The dining room is cleaner, the bathrooms are the nicest you've ever seen in a Spadina Chinese restaurant.

                2. I'll never understand the mindset of "ethnic" restaurants that assume I won't like their food. Cook me what you'd cook yourself and let me like it or not. PLEASE. Chinese restaurateurs are the worst offenders. I've heard the arguments, and they're just stupid.

                  We were headed for Xam Yu tonight and then decided we were more in the mood for something spicy. I'd heard many good things about New Sky. So we headed into New Sky instead.

                  So begins my oddest Chowhound review to date. A simple weeknight dinner for two. Some hot & sour soup. Some steamed live fish in XO sauce. Some Szechuan chicken. Some rice.

                  Everything was perfect. Perfect service. Perfectly fresh ingredients, perfectly cooked. And none of it was worth eating.

                  Hot and sour soup was passable - just. Beautiful fresh veggie shards, lots of (multiple) fungi, chicken, shrimp, not too thick - and the only real taste was of a little vinegar.

                  Pristine steamed fish, impeccably fresh and perfectly cooked. But not the whole live fish we expected and paid for and not enough for two. Perfect snow peas and other veggies. Tasteless XO sauce.

                  Perfectly stir fried sliced chicken breast. Perfectly cooked red & green peppers and onions. Some hot peppers were visible, but not detectable on the palate. The dish tasted of ketchup and vinegar.

                  The room was crowded with Chinese people, singles, couples, and large groups. There was no way these people were eating the food we were served. We queried the friendly, efficient server. "Oh", she said, " so you've had this kind of food before?" HUH? In Toronto, 2007?

                  I don't recall asking for the Gwei Lo (sic) menu. What an absurd meal.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: embee

                    Hello embee. Based on your posting, the dishes you ordered were 'Northern Peking/Szechuan' style dishes. However, New Sky is essentially a 'Cantonese' restaurant with forte on seafood. No wonder the pseudo-northern spicy food you ordered turned out to be 'odd'! Better luck next time! .

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Hi Charles, you're right. That's exactly what we ordered. We believed the neon "Szechuan" sign in the window. Had we wanted Cantonese with an emphasis on seafood, we would have eaten at our original choice, Xam Yu.

                      We've always been satisfied at Xam Yu, with an occasional dish (such as a pickerel last week) approaching perfection. And we've never felt we were getting different food from anyone else. I'd never order Northern style food there.

                      The food tonight was not Cantonese. It was "Canadian Chinese". What made it so odd was the perfection of everything combined with its virtual tastelessness. The fish might have been wonderful served naked, but the sauce reduced it to something much less.

                      The food on other people's plates looked and smelled much more interesting. But we were not in a "give us whatever is on that table" mood and we didn't expect we would need to do this.

                      And when I order a whole live fish, that's what I expect to get. I'm guessing that they didn't think we'd want to see the whole fish (which we had ordered) and filleted it in the kitchen (and didn't put all of it on the platter). Everything (plus the server's comment) gave the meal that kind of feeling.

                      Is e-Pan any better, or is it more of the same?

                      1. re: embee

                        I am Chinese but find that when I'm out with my parents I get a different menu and service compared to when I'm not. Is this what you are referring to as your gwai-lao experience?

                        1. re: neighborguy

                          Yes, this happens relatively often. The service may be good or bad. In our New Sky adventure, the service was superb. But the food delivered to our table was not similar to what others were getting. We would not have ordered a whole fish if we didn't want one. I also don't understand why they would misrepresent their specialty. We would not have ordered "Northern style" dishes in a Cantonese seafood restaurant.

                          In the worst cases, I'll return to a restaurant where I've been before with a Chinese friend. The menu will be different and the food won't be the same. This happens even where the "real" menu is fully translated into English. It has happened at places that recognized me as having eaten there before. I've been told that a dish I've had before doesn't exist, while it is being eaten at another table.

                    2. re: embee

                      One suggestion - NEVER order hot and sour soup from a cantonese restaurant or seafood chinese restaurant like this one.

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        As noted above, their neon sign lies!

                        1. re: embee

                          I feel bad for you that they did not give you the whole live fish because that's what you order ... it is a completely different dish with different taste if they filleted it !

                    3. For us, New Sky and E-Pan are both great. I eat at both once a week, most weeks. Our choice depends on the dishes we want that night.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: deelicious

                        I can't say enough good things about E-Pan. The setting is total 180° from anything else on the Spadina strip. The washrooms are super clean and the servers are very friendly and helfpul. They do a really nice lemon chicken if that's your thing. Great fried grouper too.

                        As for New Sky, I was somewhat disappointed. There was only one server and she was run-off her feat. I found the portions to be a bit smaller than other places on Spadina. The food was tasty enough, but E-Pan has it beat pretty much on all counts.

                        1. re: Brain of J

                          E-Pan has recently pumped up the serving sizes - i believe because the resto was too often half empty.

                      2. I ate there once with friends who love it, I though it was great too, but then a few months later I went back and it was awful...hit and miss I guess, I have found the same thing with Rol San

                        1. OK, this is my first post. I enjoy good food, which range from a $5 dollar wonton soup to fancier dinner at splendido or alike.

                          New sky was one of my favorite restaurant, it was one of the better area in that area.

                          However, I am not go back to this restaurant anymore.

                          1) spoiled food - I order garlic vegetable. The garlic was spoiled and tasted disgusting. When i spoke to the waitress, she asked "why you eat the garlic?, the veggie is fresh". it's very weird that when a waitress question you eating the food she serves. She commented on the freshness of the veggie, but did not say a word about the garlic ..

                          2) I got short changed - I got charged for 2 bowls of rice that i did not ordered. When i asked the waitress, she respond: "i canceled the spoiled dish for you". However, i can't see how it relates to stuff that i did not order but get charged.

                          3) Despite the bad experience, i still give them the customary tip. After i left the restaurant for about 2 minutes, a waiter chased out and ask me how much i paid. He was pointing at the mis-calculated total and hold 10 dollar less than what i left on the table. I don't think any customer lifted the $10 from the table, as there were 2 waitress stood behind me and waited for my party to leave. So, it's either the staff dropped the $10 accidentally or pocket it herself.

                          Based on all the evidence and her responses, i believe she served bad food and short changed me deliberately Poor service and poor food for me today. And now i really doubt if there's anything wrong with the other food i had today and before.

                          Let's roll the dice and go if you can deal with the bad service or inconsistent food quality.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: pixfw

                            There was a major change in management when the restaurant relocate to its current location. Not only is it under a new owner, the former executive chef responsible for all the previously yummy dishes also left!! Only thing remain is the name!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              They opened at this location years ago and it has been fabulous. Where were they located before the current place?

                              1. re: deelicious

                                'Years ago' was only like 2-3 years. Before that, they were also on Spadina, next to 'Swatow' the noodle shop..

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Yes it is about 3 years ago that they opened the current location and since that time New Sky has been fabulous. All the great reviews listed on Chowhound and by every critic in the city have been recorded during the time at the new location.

                                  1. re: deelicious

                                    This I don't know! May be the old executive decided to stay for a while to oversee the new team get on track before leaving?!

                          2. I eat here all the time. One of my favourite places downtown. I've never had a bad dish here in all the times I have been there. I just tend to avoid the Sichuan dishes since clearly they are not their specialty.

                            1. side note -- just googled new sky for the phone number, and came up with this thread.

                              Crispy Sesame beef - hold the vermicelli.. delish!