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E Pan on Spadina - great Cantonese food

Teep Nov 14, 2006 02:34 PM

There's a new resto called "E Pan" (in Chinese it means First Grade) that recently opened up. It's at 369 Spadina, a couple doors north of New Sky. Tried it with my parents and we found E Pan to be the better of the two.

We sat in the front booth, under the big ceiling lamp that bears their logo. It would have been so much nicer if the seat was padded, not just wood! Service was prompt, friendly and knowledgeable. The decor is a notch above other restos like New Sky and Lee Garden. Many entrees are at the $12 range.

We tried 2 dishes that we also had at New Sky recently so there can be a direct comparison. While the Stir fried Grouper used the same frozen fish, at E pan it had excellent "wok flavour", served on a bed of real greens - choy sum. The Oyster Hotpot had plenty of green onions, much to my mom's satisfaction, and flavouring was good though a touch too salty (so was New Sky's).

The third dish, Taro Duck, was also very good - a flaky taro layer and a tender (important!) and flavourful duck layer, deep fried to perfection and served with a light sauce that complements it very well. I was also impressed that the dish was garnished with ENGLISH cucumber slices, instead of the cheap tasteless waxed ones. The only minor complaint was that there was much more taro than duck.

Alas, the evening ended on a sour note. The complimentary dessert was Red Bean Soup which was extremely watered down and then thickened with cornstarch, and was lumpy besides. Could not stand more than a spoonful! But hey, it was free, I'm not complaining.

Also heard the waiter telling other customers that their lobsters are not fried in electric deepfryers ("just like MacDonald's") as other restos do - but are fried in a wok over a gas burner. We'll have to try it some other time to see what the diff is. Their Peking Duck at $32 is also enticing. We will definitely be going back!

  1. c
    c_snapper Mar 16, 2008 08:57 AM

    even my uber annoyingly picky eater of a sister approves of E-Pan.

    it's not the cheapest on the block, but you do get what you pay for. the peking duck was good, but it's definitely not up to HK's standard. it is pretty good for TO Chinatown without advanced order.

    1. g
      gastronom Mar 14, 2008 08:38 AM

      this is for sure my new fav place in Chinatown. very clean, friendly service, high quality products used. the peking ducks is very very very good. also the shrimp dishes, and amazing tofu dishes, thing i never knew you could do with tofu. the chow main is not the greatest on the block (guess the grungy places do it better), but everything else is fantastic.

      4 Replies
      1. re: gastronom
        g
        gimel Mar 14, 2008 10:00 AM

        I was here recently and had the Peking duck - it (and everything else) tasted fantastic, but a friend from Hong Kong with experience in the restaurant industry felt that the duck was carved up inexpertly and that a lot of the good stuff was wasted. Maybe an off night for someone in the kitchen.

        1. re: gimel
          Teep Mar 14, 2008 10:13 AM

          We had Peking Duck last week there. Ideally, only the skin and none of the meat should be served with the pancake. But in too many places in Toronto, including E-Pan and I think the defunct Kings Garden, they include a good slice of meat with some the pieces. Perhaps that's what your friend was refering to. However, can you elaborate on what the "good stuff that was wasted" was? did you get the crystal fold as the second course?

          1. re: Teep
            m
            missmu Mar 16, 2008 09:31 AM

            I'm one of those annoying customers who expect meat with the skin. I was actually disappointed that more than half of the slices at E-Pan was only skin. Although the second course of crystal fold was very delicious, the finely chopped duck meat doesn't retain nearly as much flavour as the carved meat - the thought of it as a waste did cross my mind. I'd go back for it in a flash though.

            1. re: missmu
              Teep Mar 16, 2008 10:45 AM

              You can request the second course as the duck simply chopped up on the bone, that way you can really taste the meat. (That is the way it's served in the "pick your courses" dinner combo).

      2. p
        phoenikia Nov 14, 2006 02:45 PM

        Thanks for the review! Happy to hear they also serve Peking duck.Looking forward to trying it out on my next visit to Chinatown.

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