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Chinatown - Let's seperate the winners from the losers

I'm looking for great places to eat asian - chinese, vietnamese, korean, japanese, thai - in the chinatown strip from queen up to college on spadina. i am pretty overhwelmed with all the places to eat, any help narrowing down the best of the best would be great!

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  1. My first stop is usually Swatow at 309 Spadina. No decor but simply some of the best prepared Asian on the strip - also open late.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Alpha166

      My family (from Hong Kong) do not find Swatow's main dishes good enough for a second visit. But their noodles can be good.

      1. re: Teep

        I gave Swatow's 3 chances because of a friend who said it was his favourite, and each time the food was progressively worse. 2 were dine in, the last was take out.

        The only dish I found passable was the Shrimp Dumpling Soup.

        I really believe all the positive reviews are done by those who are looking for food after the bars close - and after drinking all night!

        Personally, I like Yueh Tung - but it is not on Spadina.

        1. re: LovelyAsia

          I have been going to Swatow for 20 years or more and still go once in a while.. Agree with both Teep and LA. It's like McD. Open late almost a last resort. Quick meal when hungry late at night. Susur likes the shrimp dumpling there too. I go there mainly for noodles. Sometimes BBQ pork and tofu on rice. or seafood on rice. Word of caution, don't eat noodles in soup cold if take-out. Yuk.
          Vietnamese noodle place on Dundas W of Spadin on the south side was pretty good.. the hot pot place at 357 Spadina is OK. I haven't gone in years but BBQ pork on rice at Kum Jug was good. Does anybody know if anyplace has Hot and Sour soup that Phoenix Garden on W side of Spadina used to have? They closed years ago.

      2. re: Alpha166

        Overpriced...a joint for folks from the suburbs and 905;ers,

      3. Swatow is great, but for slightly higher-end cuisine, go to Lee Garden. You might find a line-up, but it's worth the wait. For many years, this has been the place where about a dozen of us gather on Christmas Eve. I've never had a single bad dish there.

        1. my personal fav is still New Ho King (and no, I'm not a uni student)

          1. Winners:
            Swatow (Chinese)
            Nguyen Huong (banh mi, and other takeout treats)
            Chinese Traditional Buns (Chinese)
            Mother's Dumplings (Chinese)
            Pho 88 (Vietnamese, avoid non-pho items)
            Kim Moon (Chinese bakery)
            Happy Seven (special menu)
            Rol San (Dim sum)

            Happy Seven (regular menu)
            Pho 88 (non-pho items)
            Rol San (Hot & Sour soup)

            2 Replies
            1. re: xtal

              I've often heard of the different menus at Happy Seven, one for regulars and another for the general public. How do you get to see the "special" menu? Or is the special menu the items written on the walls? I think I recall something about a different colour menu for the regulars.

              1. re: jeffs101

                I went to Happy Seven based on all the positive feedback. However, after trying even the special menu, I would say large portion and good prices but not good quality. The pea shoot had a lot of sand in it. The positive is that it has good service and is a good place for those who cannot read or speak Chinese.

            2. I was at King's Noodles back in the summer with a Chinese friend and had an excellend meal for an amazing price. Below is a brief summary of what Joanne Kates had to say,

              "King's Noodle ready to rule Spadina"
              Few have dared challenge the supremacy of Lee Garden on Spadina, and none have succeeded -- till today.
              By JOANNE KATES Saturday, December 2, 2006, Page L6

              King's Noodle - 296 Spadina Ave., Toronto, 416-598-1817.
              Dinner for two with Chinese beer, tax and tip, $75.

              4 Replies
              1. re: smartalex

                My dinner for two at King's Noodle never runs past $30. Usually around $20....but then I just have regular tea instead of gross Chinese beer....

                1. re: smartalex

                  "King's Noodle ready to rule Spadina"
                  Few have dared challenge the supremacy of Lee Garden on Spadina, and none have succeeded -- till today.
                  By JOANNE KATES Saturday, December 2, 2006, Page L6

                  "till today" ???
                  i think that's pretty funny considering King's Noodles has probably been there 20 years . obviously a restaurant doesn't exist until Joanne reviews it . at least this time she was right about the food , it's excellent

                  1. re: smartalex

                    Dinner for two in Chinatown should not cost more than $40.00 for two.
                    (Unless you're an idiot!)

                    1. re: sjacobs

                      Welcome to Chowhound!! Where do you normally dine at Spadina Chinatown?...and what do you normally order?

                  2. Best of the area IMHO (plus a few reasons or specifics):

                    Mother's Dumplings: on Huron N. of Dundas
                    (everything -- especially onion pancake and beef and chive dumplings. Nice service too.)

                    Traditional Chinese Buns: on Dundas just west of Spadina
                    (especially the Dan Dan noodles -- a nice drier version -- and the jellied bean curd with five sauces)

                    Other Winners:

                    -- Nguyen Huong (for Bahn Mi -- better than Che Cali)
                    -- Xue La (Best pho of the strip)
                    -- Pho Hung (Best view/people watching, clean -- immaculately, bright, cheery. Plus, good enough pho (thinner broth though), great shakes -- try the avacado, and nice wonton soup. I end up here way mor ethan Xue La or Pho 88 or anywhere else just because it is a really nice place in total.)
                    -- Rol San (for Dim sum only)
                    -- King's Noodle (not just for noodles either. Read Joanne Kates' review she hits most of my faves. Also, good florescent orange squid.)


                    -- Lee Garden (good, solid food. But, very tame and somewhat greasy. Less good than it used to be with the same long lines)
                    -- Gold Stone (pros: Big so you can get your own table when dining alone. Cons: not as good as King's all around)

                    To be avoided:

                    -- Swatow (I've had more than a couple of really bad meals here. I don't get why people like this place at all. On my last experience, the Sichuan prawns were great, the Hot and Sour disgusting, the spring roll awful and mealy and the special fried noodle only passable. Most other noodle dishes have been only so-so and the pork and shrimp dumplings others have raved about have left me less -- much less -- than non-plussed).
                    -- Sichuan Garden (go if you have a friend who can order in Chinese -- otherwise expect blandness)
                    -- Bright Pearl (overpriced, out of date, cavernous)
                    -- Chung King (feh . . . Been a while so maybe things have changed?).
                    -- Dumplin House (why is it so bad?)

                    On My list to try:

                    Peter's Chung king (for Orange Chicken or Beef), Saigon Palace, Asian legend (never been!), Xam Yu, E-Pan, New Sky.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Atahualpa

                      try Pho 88. they have renovated the place and changed their menu. I would like to know what you think? myself, i like what they have done. try the satay soup

                    2. These places look good. We always go to Chinatown for our Christmas dinner. Any of them offer good vegetarian choices? What would you suggest?

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: Mushka

                        I don't speak from personal experience, but I have a close veggie friend who always suggests going to Pho Hung when he's going to meet me for lunch. They have between a page and two of veg options.

                        1. re: Atahualpa

                          Aren't all Pho broths beef based?

                          1. re: jeffs101

                            I have had pho made with chicken broth and pho made with simply water poured over the raw beef slices. But if you're asking about the options on those two aforementioned pages of the menu at Pho Hung, I assume they are made with veg broth -- they are clearly labelled as 'vegetarian'. Also, some of the items aren't pho (some are though). There are Buddhist Vietnamese that stay veg so I assume they know what their doing.

                        2. re: Mushka

                          Bo De Doyen, on the second floor at Spadina and Sullivan, has great vegetarian and serves no meat dishes at all. As seems to be the way with Asian veggie restaurants, all the veggie dishes are still defined by the meats they claim to emulate, but somehow it works and everything we've tried there has tasted great. It's not a fancy place, but it is affordable and also has better service than a lot of places on that strip, at least in my opinion.

                          1. re: Gary

                            There are 3 more Vegetarian restaurent on Dundas, west of Spadina.

                            There is Full moon - the newest. Have not been. Further west there is "Fashan" (not sure if that's the English name) which was one of the originals. Traditional Chinese veggie food, but better for takeout as the place is tiny. Next door is a veggie Vietnamese place. Only there once but felt it was better than Bo De Duyen.

                            Also, Bo De Duyen is half of the restaurent. The other half serves regular non-veg dishes. Possibly they have a common kitchen, so if you do not want your food processed in the same place that cooks dead animals, avoid Bo De Duyen.

                            1. re: Gary

                              which resto would you recommend for the chinese vegetarian 'dim-sum' or gluten meat simulations?

                              1. re: orangewasabi

                                Cafe 668 is amazing for the gluten meat simulations!!!! Check it out at: http://www.cafe668.com/

                              2. re: Gary

                                I'm a proud meat lover, but having dated several vegetarians, was "forced" to go veggie on a few occassions. I can happily say that I'm addicted to Bo De Doyen's Beef Brisket in Hot Pot. It ain't beef, but boy is it yummy! It's my fave place to take vegan/veggie friends....

                                1. re: chaosensues

                                  Beef brisket is not beef? Or is this imitation beef brisket made with gluten or bean curd?

                                  1. re: Blueicus

                                    Could be made with TVP - textured vegetable protein. Another version that I've had was made with the stems of dried shitake mushrooms, but Bo De Duyen is lower end so probably not this more expensive version, which I think I had at Lotus, Midland and Steeles.

                            2. Why on earth do other people like Swatow? I tried it once and was sorely disappointed; gave it a second chance - strictly trying the noodle soups I heard were good - and was disappointed again.

                              Rol San is decent, though. I really enjoy Lee Garden - less heavy sauces, more fresh flavours - more expensive too, but good value.

                              There are better Vietnamese places in the city but Pho Hung is still a safe bet for pho and bun.

                              One of my favourite spots in the city is Yung Sing on Baldwin St. It's just East of Spadina - off the main strip - and is not a sit down place, more of a lunch spot. But their amazing greasy spring rolls, baked pork buns, tofu buns, and other goodies have a special place in my heart (albiet an artery-clogging place, but whatever.)

                              Chinese Traditional Bun is also a pretty good place for steamed buns and dumplings. Atmosphere's a bit sketchy but great for a snack. (Just West of Dundas, very close to Spadina.)

                              1. Kom Jug and Hong fatt: sure it's dirty and full of students/cops, but they make amazing barbeque. Hong fatt for roasted pork and Kom Jug for char siu. They've been in business for over 40 years for a reason...

                                I really miss the old Sam woo.

                                Kim Moon is great for all the old style chinese bakery products, not so great for the new hong kong style products.

                                I would put in a word for the old lady who sells the best curry fish balls in the city (she sells beef and fish balls and nothing else), but she seems to have disappeared from Chinatown center.

                                Asian legend is good for good clean northern food.

                                I prefer pho88 for pho and spring rolls, but the rice dishes have gone way down hill lately.

                                I still have yet to find a place which makes congee like congee wong/queen uptown.

                                Thai food in the area: not so great. Mainly, because there are no restaurants owned by Thais in the area.

                                WORST - lee garden. See any asians in there? I don't...

                                Thats all that comes to mind for now.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: qtxniki

                                  Lee Garden used to be great but got really downhill. I stopped going when one time we ordered pan fried fish and it come out with a thick batter like Fish & chips.

                                  BTW it's "Kom Jug Yuen", the name has three characters.

                                  1. re: qtxniki

                                    Pho 88 has just been renovated. the food is much better. the rice dish was good. let me now what you think.

                                    1. re: qtxniki

                                      What's wrong with students/cops?
                                      I didn't realize that they were the wrong crowd to hang out.
                                      Well that's one strike for that restaurant.

                                    2. For regular Cantonese fare, I like San Jo and Sen Ming (?), which is slightly east of Spadina on Dundas on the south side. I always forget the name, but it has really good seafood, takes only cash and is cheap.

                                      1. Good topic...but hard to get a concensus...I would like to say that I like Sang's Great...just south of Carleton on the east side of Spadina...yummy food, service is good & they are always open...

                                        1. - Xam Yu has really good seafood and good service.

                                          - Peters Chung King may be the only place downtown to get decent Szechwan dry shredded beef. Their chili-garlic eggplant and chicken with peanuts are also very good. Be very clear with the waiter about how you want your food prepared. (I order the shredded beef as very spicy, crispy, and not sweet to get what I want)

                                          1. My favs:

                                            Rol San for dinner and dim sum (Love their cripsy beef)
                                            Pho Hung
                                            Goldstone/King Noodles for a fast meal
                                            Wah Sing on Baldwin for the lobster special

                                            To try:

                                            Simon Sushi

                                            To avoid:

                                            Swatow - We went there once after many rave reviews and after finding bamboo pieces in EVERY dish we ordered, we never returned! We're not big fans of bamboo.

                                            Lee Garden - We use to go there A LOT with my parents and in-laws but after waiting in long lines and paying expensive prices for food that really shouldn't be that pricey, we've stopped going.

                                            1. Having lived in the neighbourhood for several years, a few observations:

                                              Anh Dao (393 Spadina) tends to get overlooked, perhaps because it is a bit of a narrow hole in the wall, but has fantastic dishes. I don't tend to order pho there, however.
                                              seems to be an accurate review.

                                              Kom Jug Yuen ("the jug") - bbq pork to die for. I know a few people who make a point of taking a few pounds home with them after visiting Toronto. The rest of the menu is worth exploring too.

                                              New Ho King ("the ho") - got me through some lean student years... I always wondered if the good stuff would be, well, good...

                                              Xam Yu - haven't been in a year, but always splendid seafood.

                                              New Sky - had a great meal there, haven't been back but I'm told that's it's pretty legit by people who typically turn up their noses at eating Chinese downtown.

                                              Swatow - grossly overrated, never could see what the fuss was about.

                                              1. Taste of China, just across the street for Swatow and Lee Garden. Order the General Tso's Chicken (I have never had better), snow pea leaves with garlic and the the deep fried black cod----great stuff!

                                                1. i'm with Drian of J 100% taste of china is the best restaurant in chinatown easily for the exact items he mentioned. lso the snails in black bean sauce as well as the steamed oysters with balck bean.

                                                  also, i'm surprised that no one has mentioned dim sum at rainbow on dundas just west of spadina. amazing chicken feet, siu mai, xao long bao, well, all the dim sum is amazing

                                                  1. I'm a big fan of Rainbow for dim sum too, it's pretty much my default spot. The beef ribs and congee are great too.

                                                    1. I am really allergic to MSG (monosodium glutimate, ajinomoto, mei jin, wei jin). The only safe choices I know of are Lee Gardens and Kings vegetarian in Kensington market. Would greatly appreciate guides to any others.

                                                      1. I heard that Kim Hoa closed? Too bad cuz they had good BBQ and good hot n sour soup.

                                                        Lee Garden? Yeah, I don't get it. Recommended by a lot of non-Asians who generally are eating General Tso's and Cantonese Noodles. Seemed to be a lot of 905 types as well. (not hating on the 905, just an observation)

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: foodgangsta

                                                          I lament Kim Hoa, but not its successor, which is now also papered over and closed.

                                                        2. Here's another vote for Rol San dim sum.

                                                          1. Swatow is just fake Chinese food.
                                                            Dim Sum at Rol San is good and cheap but the chaotic line-up system is just awful. I would just go to Golden Leaf if I need to have dim sum on Spadina between 11:30- 2:00 on weekends. It's however much more expensive and selections are limited.
                                                            There is no decent congee place downtown comparable to Congee King/Queen/Wong. Next best thing is Gold Stone and you don't have to tip.
                                                            Asian Legend is good and nicely decorated for what they charge. Saw Susur and his sous-chef there at lunch time one time.
                                                            The dumpling place across from Swatow on the west side of Spadina is good... don't know the English name but probably has the word "dumpling" somewhere.
                                                            Lee Garden is way overpriced for what they offer. Not bad but... And the line-up? pfffft... I'd rather spend the time driving up to highway 7.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: beepbeep

                                                              Swatow is not fake chinese food. The dishes are made with cheaper ingredients and oils. The noodles and dumpling and soup cannot be more authentic and they are delicious. Over-rated ya, but fake? No

                                                              Rol San is well priced, always very fresh, top quality so why settle for less. Go early or learn the line trick. I think its worth it personally.

                                                              GoldStone rocks

                                                              Asian Legend, now that comes closer to fake chinese although they have authentic too. I just find most plates too simple and too many green peppers.

                                                              Lee Garden is not just expensive, it is food court food.

                                                              Missing on the list for great food is New Sky and E-Pan and Tom Yeung for BBQ pork - smoky and delicious!

                                                              1. re: deelicious

                                                                I love all the banter about Swatow - we only go after 1 a.m., and usually closer to 3 a.m. It is an excellent "after bar" experience, geared to drunks and night owls. I always (guiltily) enjoy it, but wouldn't even think of going when "regular' places were open.


                                                                1. re: deelicious

                                                                  Is there anything you'd particularly recommend at Gold Stone? I've always wanted to try it, but haven't gotten around to it. I'm a sucker for anything with "noodle" in the name...

                                                                  1. re: TwinklyTerrapin

                                                                    Goldstone's Dumpling Noodle in Soup is consistent. Rich broth, plump juicy dumplings and fresh made noodles. I prefer the soup and the noodles to Swatow's but the dumplings are not quite as good. They just don't have the same texture or flavour but i still love them.

                                                                    The BBQ is a bit more tricky as it is inconsist from time to time. We like the 3 BBQ meat plate. They have fanastic non-greasy roast pork but only when it is fresh. So I only order the roast pork when there is a more than half a pig hanging in the window. I like to get that with the BBQ pork which is always good, but nobody has BBQ pork like Kom Jug Yuen in my opinion. To that you can add duck or chicken wings or soy chicken. Personally I love their soy chicken. When I order the 3 BBQ meat plate I get fresh roast pork, BBQ pork and soy chicken.

                                                                    I then add an order of fried rice which is never greasy and not seasoned with fake smoke flavour. It is always fresh and great!

                                                                    Certain friends I go with insist on the S&S pork - its OK IMO. I am very fussy when it comes to fried foods so I am not one to ask. I do love their Salt and Pepper Squid and think they make the best on the street! Second place goes to E-Pan but sometimes it is on the wet (greasy) side so I gave up on ordering it there. When E-Pan does do it right, the additional hot peppers makes it amazing.

                                                                    Because I live nearby, I tend to go to the resto that suits my palate that day. Goldstone is often the choice when i feel like bbq, squid, soup and rice as a meal. I havent tried much else on the menu.

                                                                    It is always my desination spot when I only want to just grab some Soy Chicken, Squid or the Noodle Dumpling Soup.

                                                                  2. re: deelicious

                                                                    A quick note on E-Pan: I was there this week and it was truly excellent. Beautiful crispy bbq duck, textbook lemon chicken and perfect fried rice. Prices are about the same as anything you'll find on Spadina, but served in a very comfortable and warm setting. Gracious service as well.

                                                                  3. re: beepbeep

                                                                    Golden Leaf on Spadina has closed. It struggled but was at the wrong price point for that area.

                                                                    In its place is another Chinese resto.

                                                                  4. How can no one nominate Kom Jug Yuen Restaurant! I actually never ordered anything more than 8 dollars on their menu, lol~ But their BBQ pork rice is amazing!

                                                                    Swatow, i'll avoid that one as well. hit and miss...... boo~

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: oohlala

                                                                      Yes, I completely messed up the name when I wrote Tom Yeung for BBQ Pork. I meant Kom Jug Yuen. SORRY. It is really the best BBQ pork out there. It has a smokey flavour to it that sets it apart. It is always juicy and the pork flavour is not overwhelmed by sweet or spice. Some pieces are cooked more well then others so you can ask for crispy or moist pieces. We love both!

                                                                      1. re: oohlala

                                                                        Dude, check out previous post from December , gamail, mentions Kom Jug

                                                                      2. Asian Legend... I don't get this place. I mean, they take perfunctory service to a whole new level and the food we had was awful.......... It's pretty... but that's about the only advantage.

                                                                        1. I lunched at Chieng Mai Thai today (east off Spadina, along Baldwin, in Kesington market). Pretty good pad thai. A nice sweetness but not too sweet. Thick rice noodles. I also liked the side of chilli flakes.

                                                                          1. My favourites thus far (most, if not all, have already been mentioned):

                                                                            Happy Seven
                                                                            Kom Jug Yuen
                                                                            Rol San
                                                                            Mother's Dumplings
                                                                            Chinese Traditional Buns
                                                                            Sichuan Garden

                                                                            1. I really liked Sichuan Garden. The food was quite good, as long as you stuck to Sichuan dishes. Others had commented that you needed to go with a Chinese frined: I did not find this to be true at all. The dan dan noodles were quite good, as was tofu in chile sauce. I did not eat it, but the hot pots looked great and were clearly on the tables of the vast majority of diners. (359 Spadina)

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: Ira.B

                                                                                IMHO.Peter's Chun King is tops for fried dumplings. Their other food (shredded beef, for instance) is good, too, although admittedly, I don't reecell ever seeing an Asian person eating there.

                                                                              2. Personal favorites:

                                                                                Asian Legend - don't order any of their set menus... stick to what they do well, which is the Northern Chinese specialties.

                                                                                Rol San - Dim Sum only, but there were some major service issues we encountered on our last visit.

                                                                                Xam Yu - we have our favorites, like the clam noodle soup, string beans with ground pork in XO sauce, steamed oysters in black bean sauce, deep fried grouper, etc. Their seafood is excellent.

                                                                                E-Pan - We are regulars enough to know the wait staff, who in turn let us know what's good that day.

                                                                                Kom Jug Yuen - BBQ pork of course! We also love their juk/congee which is nice and thick... we like it with the addition of thousand-year-old eggs and plenty of green onions.

                                                                                New Sky - We like dishes like the fried tofu with king mushrooms and veggies, their lobster, and their incredible crab and rice dish (sorry, don't have the proper name for the last dish since I've never looked for it on the menu but the ppl I've been with always know to order it).

                                                                                1. King's Noodles, hands down, especially for the noodles (and other goodies, too). Forget Lee Garden; it's time it gave up the ghost. (Apologies to Joanne Kates but, please, let this one go already; it kicked the bucket about 10 years ago.)

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: yaddayadda

                                                                                    King Noodle for sure. The fish congee is nice and bf used to crave their scallop chowmein (a seafood chowmein but he asked for all scallop). if you're into SS pork, it's not flourescent red, though still red, and the pineapple is from the fruit, not the can. they have a la carte dim sum on weekends but i only tried it when they first started it and they had very few items.

                                                                                    Never had dimsum at Rol San, but dinner on 3 occasions. all 3 times were bad.

                                                                                    rainbow dimsum is good. yui wah dimsum is good if you go early with all the seniors eating steamed chicken w/ mushroom rice (10:30 is too late) otherwise it gets greasy and gross.

                                                                                    i like the lamb soup a lot at hello saigon

                                                                                    1. re: chocabot

                                                                                      King's Noodle always provides a solid meal! If I'm feeling sick (i.e. want mild flavours) or not that hungry, I usually get their preserved egg and pork congee (may require acquired tastebuds) and beef rice noodle dish.
                                                                                      I also usually order their tomato beef on rice and chicken on rice noodles with satay sauce ("sa-dei gie haw"). The last time I went with a friend, three different tables asked to order what we had (my last two recommendations)!

                                                                                      1. re: chocabot

                                                                                        If you look for Rainbow, you won't find it. It's now called "Noble Seafood", but it is essentially unchanged.

                                                                                      2. re: yaddayadda

                                                                                        Went back a few days ago. It seemed a lot noisier than usual (and it is usually quite noisy) -- the we-don't-care-how-noisy-we-are-clearing-the-dishes-you're-eating-in-cafeteria kind of noisy (more off-putting than usual) -- and the food didn't have that oomph. I'm not giving up on it quite yet (it's still seems to be amongst the best around), but I sure hope this is not the beginning of the end. That would be a shame.

                                                                                        1. re: yaddayadda

                                                                                          Lee Garden is still #1 on my list. I believe it has been operating for almost thirty years and is still running strong. Not quite as it once was but still serving great food and great service.
                                                                                          It seems that the clientele is a good mix of asians and non-asians (predominant). A bit more expensive than the surrounding competition but worth it for the consistency and quality.

                                                                                        2. Golden Stone.

                                                                                          wake up at 3am like me it narrows it down your choices easy. lol

                                                                                            1. re: deelicious

                                                                                              Tried E-Pan based on these recommendations. I appreciated the cleanliness, but the food wasn't much to write home about, although there take on it was different from the norm (try the black-bean anything). You can do better elsewhere, and likely at a better price. Maybe we'll try again next year.

                                                                                              1. re: C.Jackson

                                                                                                Funny. I was there last week and tonight. I have found that the food has become less flavourful and strifry type dishes are MUCH more oily! We will switch back to New Sky for the next few months.

                                                                                                1. re: yaddayadda

                                                                                                  Yes, the strong point with this place is the cleaniless and ambience, compared to the rest (now that Golden Leaf is gone). Other than that, the dim sum sucks big time. Dinner, just like any other on the strip costing less.

                                                                                              2. If anyone can report back on the Peking duck, I would appreciate it. They seemed to have it at the ready (rather than having to order a day in advance), so I was wondering about the quality and/or taste. Thanks.

                                                                                                1. Kom Jug Yuen' s BBQ pork on rice and ma po to fu are both on my list of comfort foods. They also make a very nice "spicy green bean"- make sure it is the version with meat- which is so good and salty against the rice. Also good: pan fried dumplings, jum (like a nor mai gai) in lotus leaves, and even the BBQ fried rice special.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: rat under paper

                                                                                                    Typically Chinese restaurants only serve food of 1 region of China. Very very few do both northern and southern food well, because you do need different chefs. The only place in GTA that does that is Omei up at highway 7, and only lunch time dim sum. In HK/China/Taiwan, you almost never find a restaurant that serves both northern and southern dishes.
                                                                                                    "spicy green been" (I assume it's is the "dry-fried string bean" with ground pork), pan fried dumplings and ma po tofu are northern dishes, while BBQ are southern(cantonese).

                                                                                                  2. I love the Sen Ming Garden on Dundas just east of Spadina...the food is tasty, they are open late and the staff is super friendly (no matter your state of sobriety) and always ready with more green tea and big smiles.

                                                                                                    1. Tried the New Ho King this past Saturday evening.
                                                                                                      416 Spadina Ave.
                                                                                                      Very disappointed.
                                                                                                      Lemon Chicken was dry and the sauce was very bland. Sweet and Sour chicken balls were hard. No kidding, I have never had worse, and these were ordered at about 9:30PM so they should have been fresh. Deep fried Breaded Jumbo Shrimps did not taste fresh , the only thing edible was the beef fried rice.
                                                                                                      Never again.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Poorboy

                                                                                                        Poorboy: Curious as to your comment about the chicken should have been fresh because it was ordered at 9:30....could you explain...thx

                                                                                                        1. re: T Long

                                                                                                          I don't know what to say really....
                                                                                                          It is what is and my guest and I were a little surprised.
                                                                                                          We felt we would get better from this establishment given some decent reviews. You would think it would be fresh as well. I don't know, was the cook pressed for time or was it a "bad night"?
                                                                                                          I usually give a second chance to a place, but this was particularly upsetting so I am very reluctant to try again.
                                                                                                          I will give one example:
                                                                                                          I look for a chicken ball to have a batter that is blonde to very light tinges of brown on the batter. The ones I received were more brown than anything else. The meat on the inside, as a result, was overcooked.

                                                                                                          1. re: Poorboy

                                                                                                            Kom Jug also has pitiful chicken balls. I went there hoping an old school cantonese joint would give me a good ball. Boy was that presumptious. Doughy dark brown baseballs. Poorboy, your damn right. The chicken ball should be tan with more chicken to batter ratio. I know there is a chicken ball thread but it's as old and stale as the Kom Jugs chicken balls... Where else can a girl get a good chickens ball in Chinytown? Anyone? Anyone?

                                                                                                      2. I read about Taste of China in this thread so gave it a try. Quite impressed with their "Whole sole on Crispy Bone" - the fish is very fresh and you get the whole spine and fins deep fried. This $22 version is miles better than the $12 version at E Pan. Except the bones should be throughly fried so it's crunchy inside and out and you can eat the whole thing, but here the bones are still hard. Oyster with Winter Melon hot pot was a combination I've never had before, it sort of works, but the melon pieces were not evenly cooked; some were really tender but some were hard. The Deep Fried Squab was disappointing - it seems there was no seasoning and they just threw the bird in hot oil.

                                                                                                        Overall the food is not bad, but the place is a little grungy and showing its age. Would still go back and try their other dishes.

                                                                                                        1. Anybody tried Lucky Dragon? It's right next to New Ho King at the top of Spadina. The thing is, it's always empty so nobody wants to go in when next door is so busy because they assume New Ho is better. I've eaten at most of the restaurants in Chinatown including Lee Garden, Swatow, Happy Seven, Taste of China and New Sky but Lucky Dragon is by far my favourite.

                                                                                                          Here's what to expect: Drab decor, broken English and lots of fluorescent lighting but...
                                                                                                          Cantonese Chow Mein is great. Arguably some of the best Hot and Sour Soup in Chinatown. Amazing Fried Lobster and a really great stir fried mushroom and tofu dish. The staff are so nice and try their best to converse.

                                                                                                          Dim Sum: Try Noble (formerly Rainbow) just west of Spadina on Dundas. Great prices, quality comparable to Rol San but no line ups. They have a deep fried Tofu Rice Roll that's great.

                                                                                                          Vietnamese/Pho: I'm a fan of Kim just around the corner from Pho Hung. I ate at Pho Hung for years but got tired of cranky servers and line ups. The broth is far superior at Kim and the rice flour rolls with Vietnamese Sausage are beautiful.

                                                                                                          BBQ/Noodles: House of Gourmet just east of Spadina on Dundas is my noodle house of choice. After many meals at King's and Goldstone I decided to branch out. Amazingly tender beef brisket,all shrimp wonton and excellent congee. Plus they do a great Peking Duck or Lobster special.

                                                                                                          I live in Chinatown so I'm always discovering new places to eat but they aren't necessarily the busiest (ever seen a line up at Chinese Traditional Buns??).


                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: yumyumdimsum

                                                                                                            Yummy Yummy DS....You are a very smart expert. I will take you up on your recs. I just moved to Chinatown! Thanks.

                                                                                                            1. re: yumyumdimsum

                                                                                                              Dim Sum: I would say Rol San no doubt, except the one is already closed (I forget the name but it is just south of Rol San at the same side).

                                                                                                              Pho: A lot of choices but I will pick Pho Hung. Of course , I won't expect good services at Chinatown at all.

                                                                                                              BBQ: The one on West side of Spadina and north of Dundas. Almost at the NW corner.

                                                                                                              By the way, where is the Chinese Traditional Bun?

                                                                                                              1. re: yumyumdimsum

                                                                                                                I had always recommended Pho Hung and I never really cared if the service was good or not, In fact, I usually expect the service in chinatown type places to be "rushed" and not overly friendly.

                                                                                                                But on the last couple of visits I've had extremely rude service. Maybe cuz I'm Asian myself and they figured they could treat me differently from the non-Asian customers? As I sat there, wondering if I should walk out (which I didn't since I was hungry and my food was coming), I noticed the same "waitress" talk in the same rude manner to another Asian table, but then changed her attitude for the Canadian couple a few tables down. I was like WTF? But then my food came and I was like... meh... whatever. I'll just give her a crappy tip, but considering where I was, she probably wouldn't even notice that it was a crappy tip.

                                                                                                                1. re: foodgangsta

                                                                                                                  Pho Hung's food is okay, but the service is awful.

                                                                                                                  The last time I went there I brought a friend along for a quick lunch on a slow weekday and ordered vermicelli and the standard "everything in it" special pho and a mango milkshake. We waited a good 15 minutes for my friends shake, and another half hour for our food while watching the waitresses plunk down meals on tables seated after us. We tried flagging down a waitress to ask where our food was, but the staff ignored us, even though we were sitting right in the middle of the annexed on dining area.
                                                                                                                  I guess we didn't have as much patience as you coz we walked out, completely fed up after one couple sat down next to us finished their meal and left within the time that we had sat there waiting.

                                                                                                                  Another time more recently, my brother and my dad went there for a Sunday lunch, and were asked to leave their 4 seat table for another party. This was a bit rude, but since the restaurant was getting busy they assented b/c they assumed it was for a larger party. They got moved to a crappier smaller table tucked away in the back and watched the manager seat a young couple (also Asian) into the table my father and brother were just sitting at. Big WTF here.

                                                                                                                  Preferential treatment at Pho Hung? Do they have a targeted clientele or something? LOL I'm Asian, my friend isn't, but we were dressed like what we are; poor students. And I know my dad & bro probably had that 'slept-in late' bedhead look, but since when were we supposed to dress up for eating at greasy pho restaurants?

                                                                                                              2. Saigon Palace for vietnamese pho. I am surprised it is only mentioned once... I live all the way in Scarborough-Agincourt area, and I would travel all the way to College & Spadina just to get Saigon's yummy Pho! Plus their spring rolls are the best!

                                                                                                                Wah-Sing for Lobster. This was also only mentioned once, but is also another place I would go out of my way for a special meal. We're filipino, so wah-sing is our spot for special occasions. It's my sister's bday next week and we are slated to go. I'm so excited! They cook their lobster very simple but tasty, with green onion and ginger. It's a small place in a small neighborhood, but it's worth it!

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: joyofdinner

                                                                                                                  And Saigon Palace is the only Pho that I have evere found that contains a delicious and tender piece of Daikon Radish! If ordering a rice dish, the rice is always perfectly cooked and of high quality!

                                                                                                                2. For sitdown Chinese food: New Sky, Lee Gardens, and E-Pan. Never had anything dissappointing at any of these but gf knows chinese and does the ordering.
                                                                                                                  For BBQ: King Noodle House - LOVE their duck!

                                                                                                                  1. Pho Pasteur.

                                                                                                                    This restaurant serves the best Pho. It's located just west of spadina on dundas on the south side.

                                                                                                                    All you need to know is 03 Beef Satay.

                                                                                                                    I eat pho a couple times a week, have tried numerous places, and have even done the pho challenge (eatting mutliple bowls of small pho from different restaurants one after another).

                                                                                                                    You will not be disappointed.

                                                                                                                    Additionally, their other dishes are very good too. The special crab soup is piled high with seafood. Their curry soup is thick and flavorful. Their Vietnamese pancakes crisp and tasty. Milkshakes are a must, especially their Green Bean and Pennyleaf.

                                                                                                                    But for Pho, there is no comparison. On my pho rating scale I give it a perfect 100.

                                                                                                                    Post-reno Pho 88 is very disappointing. Their beef satay pho is too thick, tastes sandy, and is lukewarm. On my pho rating scale, I would give it a 40/100. Their milkshakes are horrible. Too icey and watery.

                                                                                                                    Pho Hung is dirty. They mix their condiments. I find dried food on my chopsticks. Their Pho is moderate, a solid 80/100, but honestly, when the best pho in the city is a 3 minute walk, there is no reason to eat here.

                                                                                                                    Peach Garden is clean, spacious, and good pho. I rank them above Pho Hung, with an 87/100 but again, I do not see the reason to go here with Pho Pasteur so near-by. Their one advantage is the mung bean milkshake, which may be slightly better than pasteur's green bean.


                                                                                                                    Dimsum - Noble restaurant. $1.68 per dish at lunch, and pretty tasty. Best dishes are the shanghai dumplings and the steamed home made sweet bean buns.

                                                                                                                    Wonton & Noodles - House of Gourmet. Huge tasty wontons in a nice broth. An absolutely great deal at around $4.

                                                                                                                    Congee - Gold Stone. Only the scallop congee. It's loaded with juicy scallops, for a very reasonable price.

                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: djchrono

                                                                                                                      well put and I like your percentages!

                                                                                                                      1. re: djchrono

                                                                                                                        Finally someone else who recognizes that Pho 88 is bad. The rare beef pho, a litmus test Vietnamese restaurants, has a salty broth with no depth, sticky noodles and, unforgiveably, cooked beef. Ultimately, this place did nothing to disrupt my loyalty to Golden Turtle on Ossington.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Matt Cohen

                                                                                                                          Yes! Pho 88 doesn't compare, it's one of the last places I would have pho! Definitely have Pho Hung before Pho 88. But the broth at Pho Hung seems too MSG-y on most days.

                                                                                                                          Pho at "The Train" Xe Lua isn't very good either; the noodles were much to gelatinous, and broth was simply bland. But their vermicelli dishes are quite good: the bbq meat is never too dry or too burnt - but I would pass on their spring rolls.

                                                                                                                          BUT: The best pho places imo are in the city's north-west end. Pho Dao Bo (Finch and Weston) is one of the best for Pho, and Peach Garden (Sheppard and Jane) for rice dishes.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ndawg

                                                                                                                            Note that the "restaurant formerly known as Pho 88" (on Spadina) is now just the "88 Restaurant". The word "pho" has disappeared from their sign post-reno. I think that speaks volumes.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Matt Cohen

                                                                                                                            Also, the Laksa Restaurant (at the same building where Bo De Duyen use to be) is a loser. I went once when it opened and noted:

                                                                                                                            The laksa was basically noodles in a bland curry soup with two shrimps, and the lemongrass tofu from their vegetarian section came with a nice chunk of CHICKEN. Definitely not worth $20.

                                                                                                                        2. I'll second the Sichuan garden suggestion. Was there with a crew from a conference I organized a couple of weeks ago and all were thoroughly impressed. The owner was very helpful in helping to make selections and adjusting dishes to feed a large group of people.

                                                                                                                          1. Not to hijack this thread, but is anyone open on Xmas day for DimSum? Thanks

                                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: Papaya9

                                                                                                                              I can;t recall any Chinese restaurant closed for Christmas

                                                                                                                              1. re: katana750

                                                                                                                                Sorry to change the thread but I'm looking for a decent Dim Sum restaurant on Spadina. A few people have recommended the Bright Pearl but I've never been that impressed with it. Has anyone tried King's Noodle, especially for Dim Sum?


                                                                                                                                1. re: PeggyP

                                                                                                                                  The only place i've been in recent memory was Rol San and it was serviceable. My Cantonese friends agreed that it was serviceable. Not the worst. Not the best. Just satisfying and a good match for the price.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: PeggyP

                                                                                                                                    IIRC King's Noodle doesn't do dim sum. Try Rol San across from Bright Pearl but go early or wait in line on weekend.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChalkBoy

                                                                                                                                      Rol San is best bet for wide selection of good dim sum in Spadina Chinatown. Good value too. Environment is very basic. E-Pan, a little north of Rol San has a better environment, but has a more limited dim sum selection.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChalkBoy

                                                                                                                                        King's has a small collection of dim sum. Not bad but I would certainly look elsewhere for it.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Teep

                                                                                                                                          I agree too Rol San is satifying for your dim sum cravings.

                                                                                                                                          Kings noodle is for when you want noodles, congee and a few dim sum items. But I've seen people at Rol San ordering noodle dishes with their dim sum toog.

                                                                                                                                          I didn't like Bright Pearl the one time I went. But it may have been an off day.

                                                                                                                                          I really didn't like the one in Dragon City on the 3rd floor.

                                                                                                                                          Rol San
                                                                                                                                          323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                                                                                                                                          Bright Pearl
                                                                                                                                          346 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G2, CA

                                                                                                                                2. Lovely Idea! There are so many places to try in Chinatown too, it's hard not to get a little discouraged after your first bad experience.
                                                                                                                                  The Dumpling House is one of my favorites! It's on Spadina, maybe a block North of Dundas.

                                                                                                                                  Dumpling House Restaurant
                                                                                                                                  328 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E7, CA

                                                                                                                                  1. I am surprised that "Excellent" Restaurant did not make mention here.
                                                                                                                                    It is on the east side of Spadina, south of Dundas. Across from Golden Stone.
                                                                                                                                    Their double lobster specials are delicious, (ginger scalion two lobsters, plus additional dishes as a package). There Seafood hotpot is nice, their "beef tenderloin" Chinese Steak (Jong Sik Gnau Lau) is good and theri dau miu (snow pea shoots) and other greens served seasonally are delicious. Typical Cantonese and generally palatable to most folks.