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Chinatown on Gerrard

Hey, I just moved to Leslieville, and while I have a pretty good handle on dining around there and in Little India, I am somewhat clueless about where to go in Chinatown East. Any recommendations? Dim sum, takeout, sit down, seafood, "this place makes the best..." - whatever really.

Oh and don't say "go to Scarborough" as I don't have a car!

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  1. Some vietnamese recommendations in the area would be Rose Cafe for banh mi and Mi Mi Restaurant for pho/bun.

    Don't really have any personal recommendation for chinese food... I've only gotten decent/average takeout from Kaka Lucky (bbq duck/bbq pork) and the bakery next door has pretty good egg tarts/bbq pork buns etc.

    Also, Batifole is certainly the best french restaurant in Chinatown... :-)

    8 Replies
    1. re: Vise

      I've had the Banh Mi from Rose and it's great.

      DT

      1. re: Davwud

        i just re-read the posts about rose cafe and their bahn mi and i have to say that i vehemently disagree. comments were noting how they are very flavourful and have a fresh bun, but i may as well have been eating soggy cardboard. especially after sitting in the fridge for a day they were even more devoid of flavour. the meat is just dull dull dull. i will give you that they stuff it full of items but the pickled vegetables were far too much on the side of sweet. their bun was ok, especially in comparison, to nguyen hongs crispy crust and super soft inside. am i missing something? did i go on an off day? i bought four and it was the same with each one.

        sorry childofthestorm, not exactly the right chinatown i'm suggesting but i think you can find better bahn mi elsewhere on that strip... i think rose's was the worst i've had because it just didn't taste like anything.

        i don't mean to be harsh, but has anyone else compared the two side by side to tell me what the story is?

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          Did you order any in the 'hot' variety? I know the places on Spadina sometimes dress these a bit differently (in addition to adding heat). I've not been to Rose Cafe, so I can't comment directly on those banh mi.

          1. re: xtal

            got 2 hot and 2 regular for the sake of a proper taste comparision.

            rather than spreading chili pieces directly into the sandwich, rose cafe has a chili "sauce" that's a moist version of chilis finely chopped up. the spice is then distributed evenly throughout the sandwich but doesn't have flavour so much as just pure spice heat. i eat spice for kick and tastiness... not burning.

            it was just utterly lacking in flavour... to me they couldn't even get the basics right so praising them for the extras (lots of pickled veg and cilantro) is somewhat useless. i won't ever go back unless someone can prove to me that i was there on a completely off day.

            1. re: pinstripeprincess

              I've tried them twice and won't be giving it a third try. They were okay but nothing great and I found some I like much better at the bakery across the street.

              As for Mimi's - I don't think their food is the best Vietnamese in town by any means but the owner is so charming and sweet that they have won me over.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Thanks for the info. It sounds like I'll grab a banh mi if I'm biking by, but won't be making a special trip out that way.

                1. re: pinstripeprincess

                  I agree pinstripe. I read some review pumping Rose cafe up on CBC Beyond Burgers but the sandwiches there were STALE and HARD. The ones from Chinatown on Spadina are more consistently decent, probably better turnover...

                  1. re: echeng25

                    NOW also wrote them up. I don't get it either, they are nothing special.
                    As for Mimi's, they seem to cater to people from north of Gerrard. The Vietnamese community eats at Pho 88.

        2. For Vietnamese, 'Pho 88' seems to be the most popular with the Asian community.
          Try the #79 (vermicelli with spring rolls & grilled chicken.)

          1. None of the Chinese places is worth a special journey. However, some offer tasty food for giveaway prices. If you order carefully, you will eat for less than the cost of cooking yourself.

            For northern style foods, try Beijing House. It was once very popular, but seems to be dying. However, you can eat very well for under $5.00/person. If you don't have a huge appetite, the "on rice" dishes at under $5.00 will feed 2. The seafoods aren't wonderful, but most everything else is, at least, tasty. They also make terrific chicken wings.

            KaKa Lucky on Broadview serves some good southern dishes, again for giveaway prices. The BBQ on rice serves 2 for under $5.00. Try the BBQ and seafood dishes here. They won't blow you away, but are yummy for the price. A whole steamed fish is, I believe, under ten bucks. However, I've found their beef dishes weird.

            Pearl Court is plastered with positive reviews, but most date back 20 years or more. It's mostly mediocre, but may be worth trying anyway. I recall some dishes with candied walnuts and a chicken wrapped in paper that were quite good.

            For Vietnamese, MiMi is very popular. I don't find their pho up with the best, but often go there anyway. XeLua also has good soup, and a shack on, I believe, Bolton, has pho that is locally renowned (lunch only).

            There is a North Vietnamese resto on the north side at the Broadview end (Hanoi 5 Seasons). It's quite different and some of the food is good. They are somewhat inconsistent and the owner's recommendations aren't the best. Order what sounds good to you.

            Simon's Wok (near Logan) is a Buddhist vegetarian place that cooks very well, though many would find the food very bland.

            Batifole is wonderful, though hardly Chinese.

            Pepper Chili, at the Broadview/Gerrard corner, claims to serve Szechwan food. It isn't Szechwan and it doesn't have much taste.

            2 Replies
            1. re: embee

              i don't agree with your assement of simon's wok.

              everything i have tried was anything BUT bland.

              1. re: galambo

                I like Simon's and did say I thought they cooked very well, but several people I've sent there complained about blandness.

                People I know who are neither adventurous eaters nor vegan also don't really "get" the "mock" dishes and will complain thet, say, the meat didn't really taste like meat instead of focusing on what it actually DID taste like.

            2. I forgot one - Soon Foon Tai is good for dim sum. It's also very busy.

              1. I agree about Soon Foon Tai. The dim sum is very good and so is their regular menu. Business really died off in East Chinatown after Sars and the area never really recovered. The restaurants are often quite empty at night, but don't let that scare you, the food is good. And just think how great the service is!! If you want an easy, cheap, meal, either lunch or dinner go to Seabreeze on Queen near Greenwood and have one of their $5.00 specials.

                1. Thanks guys, you rule. Is Soon Foon Tai carts or menu for dim sum? embee, thanks for the budget-conscious tips, I certainly don't go to Chinatown to spend a lot of money. That whole steamed fish for under $10 made me hungry (and it's 9 am).

                  Believe me, most nights when we end up there, we'll be going to Batifole (if we can get a table). But sometimes you need to have some Chinese, or Vietnamese for that matter.

                  Last night, first dinner out in the 'hood as the kitchen isn't completely hooked up yet...The Tulip for steaks! My wife had never been there before. We're off to a good start.

                  1. Soon Foon Tai has carts, and although their English is very limited, the ladies are very helpful and friendly. It is really busy right around 12:00 so you might want to time your arrival. By the way, they have Dim Sum every day. I think I have also seen people order it at night, but thats perhaps a limited choice. Have you been to any of our great restaurants on Queen yet? You'll be spoiled for choices and won't care how long the kitchen takes!!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Leslieville

                      Yup, we've been eating all over Queen, even though we just moved in we've been spending time in the neighbourhood the last four months while our house has been getting renovated. I have a lot of favourites so far, but I guess it would be off-topic to list them. Chinatown is my main concern right now - slightly dismayed that Soon Foon Tai is carts, as I generally prefer menus (heresy, I know). My wife is Muslim and won't eat pork, and we've had accidents before at cart places. I know, Chinese kitchens pork is everywhere and it's impossible not to eat a bit of it, but out of sight out of mind as they say, she's cool with that.

                      1. re: childofthestorm

                        Just in case she really wanted dim sum without any contact with pork, Star East on Bayview south of Eglinton served dim sum from a pork free kitchen...but they still serve beef, seafood and chicken.
                        I didn't realize until recently that even the har gow and egg custard tarts are made with lard.

                        1. re: phoenikia

                          Yeah she LOVES har gow, she found out they were make from lard but managed to convince herself that it was just from that particular restaurant. Basically her faith is colliding with her love of food, and the latter is winning.

                        2. re: childofthestorm

                          Soon Foon Tai is carts during the rush. Don't be dismayed, the stuff is all very fresh and moves quickly. (The beef ribs are amazing, make sure to ask if you don't see them.) After 2pm or so you can still get all the dim sum items off the menu till approx 4pm.

                      2. embee mentioned Hanoi 5 Seasons. The owner also has a store on Queen East where I recently bought a cute little handbag and shawl/scarf. He gave us his card for the restaurant, so I was interested in it. Might give it a try sometime.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: SusanB

                          The restaurant is actually Hanoi 3 Seasons. The store on Queen is Hanoi Chic.

                          1. re: courgette

                            Thanks Courgette. I liked the store - cute stuff.

                        2. Where is Soon Foon Tai? Sounds soooo good...maybe I'll fit in a sitting this weekend between all the turkey meals.
                          Somewhere that has not been mentioned is Royal Angkor, on the north side of Gerrard east of Broadview. Been there a couple of times and have enjoyed the spicy, flavourful food. Those times we showed and they were open...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: neighborguy

                            If I'm thinking of the right place, Soon Foon Tai is on the north side of Gerrard, east of Broadview, and on the block between Hanoi 3 Seasons and Royal Angkor. I believe it's just east of the empty lot.

                          2. Grand does good cheap takeout too. (they have a set dinner for 4 written in chinese, for $16 and $20) Ask about dinner A and B. (Each has 4 dishes-one is a whole fish, rice, and soup)

                            Kaka lucky for barbeque

                            Bakery south of Kaka lucky does best, HUGE steamed buns. Buy $5, get a free bun. They sell alot of old style chinese bakery goods that are harder to find. i.e. filling free deep fried sesame balls, "big buns" - filled with pork, mushrooms, one quail egg.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: qtxniki

                              To add to the bakery comment, the one to the south of KaKa is the only one with worthwhile stuff. The bakeries on the west side of Broadview are, in my view, awful.