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My favorite Mainland Chinese restaurant gems in north Toronto

Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 08:15 PM

I promised a few people that I'd share some of my favorite places to have authentic chinese food in north Toronto. Being chinese myself, I've sampled a lot of different places in search of good, reasonably priced, authentic chinese food... particularly cuisines from Mainland China. My wife is from Beijing, so she tells me whether the food seems authentic or not.

Ok, here's the list, and if anyone can add comments that would be great. Sorry I can't list the menu details, since I usually don't order because I can't actually read chinese. A few of these places seem to only have chinese-only menu's and speak very little english, so be warned when venturing upon these places (it'll be just like you're going to China!). :)

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Dumpling King
Address : 3290 Midland, Scarborough, ON M1V 3Z9 (north of finch)
Telephone : 416-321-0888

There's usually 1-2 girls working frantically at the back table making their own fresh dumpling skin and dumplings. Definitely try their dill filled dumplings, quite nice. Also tried their massive sized "lion's head" meatballs, which are bigger than my fist!
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Szechuan Legend
Can't even find the address on yellowpages.ca (unless I've got their english name wrong), but located at the same strip mall as Dumpling King 3290 Midland, directly next to the large water fountain facing midland.

It's been our favorite lately, and it hasn't opened too long ago. They have this amazing pancake this has a soft turnip inner core, and pastry outer layer, lightly fried with a sesame coating... it's to die for! Other favorites include their stinky tofu, and fatty pork. Very nicely decorated place and friendly service.
Reasonable prices too.

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The Old House

8 Glen Watford DRive, Unit 3 (midland and sheppard)
416-298-8986

We actually know the owners of this tiny little place that often gets packed quickly with young mainland food lovers. It's Sichuan/north china/Beijing style cuisine. We always order their fish fillets soaked in oil and red peppers. They also have a somewhat different style of "savoury pancake" that also has fillings similar to the dumpling (sorry, can't recall the name of it). Again, all chinese menu.

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Hot Spicy Spicy Chinese Restaurant

Address : 173 Ravel Road, North York, ON M2H 1T1 (finch & leslie)
It's on the back side of the main strip mall, facing the school)
Telephone : 416-491-8988

I think this place has been reviewed by Toronto Life. Also very good spicy sichuan food, prices recently started to jump (probably after the TL review?).

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Backyard Garden Restaurant

3636 Steeles Avenue East
Markham, ON L3R 1K9
(905) 415-8988

Also has excellent stinky tofu, and this thin clear noodle dish in a delicious dark brown soup broth.

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  1. Royaljelly RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 08:33 PM

    As far as I know, they all speak Mandarin for sure, but depending on which server you get, some may understand/speak a little bit of Cantonese. English... I have no idea. :)

    I'll try to scan and post up some of their menus if I get a chance.

    Also have to agree with the previous poster about some places being overly oily. I have a few friends who's chinese mothers and grandmothers (from mainland china) cooked for us, and they all use a ton of oil!

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      Blueicus RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:03 PM

      I went to Backyard Garden some time ago, and I thought the food was hit and miss. The duck hot pot with beer wasn't to my family's liking and it just seemed to contain mostly bones.

      Although I also think the Sichuan place at Old Kennedy and Steeles is also hit and miss, I love their spicy noodles when I feel like punishing myself... truely "ma la".

      I also like Chung King Garden in Market Village, though they served Cantonese style dessert soup, which sort of confused me.

      I also don't think this place is owned by Mainland people, but I also like Chiu Chow Boy on Kennedy just south of Steeles.

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        Ender RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:07 PM

        Are there any Hunan restaurants up around there? I've been trying to find a real Hunan place ever since I got back from China but with no luck.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ender
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          FlavoursGal RE: Ender Jan 22, 2007 10:22 PM

          Yes, someone please let us know. Does anyone remember Hunan Palace in Montreal's Chinatown? It was our first exposure to spicy Chinese food (probably going back about 30 years), and it closed up years ago.

          1. re: Ender
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            wordsworth RE: Ender Jan 24, 2007 06:17 AM

            I feel your pain. I've been looking for many years and have yet to find one.

          2. estufarian RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:16 PM

            Thanks for posting these. This should be a good thread.
            Of course, those of us used to 'downtown' Chinese food (that seems to be downgraded by most 'up north'), would seem to have different tastebuds.
            On your list, I've only tried Backyard Garden, and I also won't bother returning. Not that it's "bad" but not worth an extended trip (I guess the same applies the other way round for Mothers Dumplings). I found all the food at Backyard Garden to be oily (of course, that's where the taste is) and the cheap price to be due to the use of lesser quality ingredients (e.g. the beef had been tenderized giving it an almost glutinous exterior, with a chewy interior). I also found the spicing to be just "hot" without any layering of flavours. But to be fair, this is not intended to be haute cuisine - more of a competitive neighbourhood place that delivers fair value for money.

            1 Reply
            1. re: estufarian
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              Blueicus RE: estufarian Jan 22, 2007 11:31 PM

              I think the oiliness of the food is dependent on the sort of regional cuisine you are used to. In Shanghai most of the native foods there are nearly universally oily (IMO), and my Shanghainese grandmother was very generous with the oil (back when I was younger, at least). I also found this with the cold spicy noodles I had at some of the Sichuan places around... it's basically chili and sichuan peppercorn-infused oil that makes the dish, which makes it oily by default. I personally think that it's just the way they like it.

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              FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:20 PM

              I'm getting excited here. I've been searching for good Szechuan restaurants since moving to Toronto from Montreal 10 years ago.

              Thanks for providing this list, royaljelly. I'm looking forward to trying some of them.

              1. q
                qtxniki RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:29 PM

                HOT SPICY SPICY:

                so do the people speak mandarin there only, or can they understand cantonese as well?

                I'm thinking of going tonight...need that fish soaking in chili oil! mmmmm! I live in North York and never knew we had a sichuan place at leslie. So I dont need to drive out to markham and scarboro anymore.... =)

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                  Ender RE: Royaljelly Jan 22, 2007 10:40 PM

                  Oh yes if people could kindly post whether they speak cantonese or mandarin it would be most helpful. I'd have to bring my brother if its only cantonese which would make it slightly more difficult.

                  Though we are a good surprise as the white brothers who speak chinese heh.

                  1. m
                    magic RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 10:21 AM

                    For Szechuan I LOVE:
                    1. Tasty Chinese Food (Eglinton E. of Allen Rd.). Just amazing food. Service seems good although for some reason they don’t like me and my family. No idea why. Try their Palace Sauteed Shrimp and BBQ Boneless Pork.
                    2. Sun Lok (Yonge at Wellesley) – Used to be located on St. Patrick/Dundas. Many years ago it was called Young Lok and was THE spot for Chinese in Toronto. Packed space that must’ve seated around 200, insanely good food. Changed ownership and management over the years. Its current incarnation is so small and tiny, which is a bit sad when I remember how big and exciting Young Lok was back in the day. But the food is still wonderful.
                    3. Cynthia’s (Bathurst, Centre St.). Very expensive with small portions and French sensibilities in terms of attention to presentation and an elevated dining experience. The food is divine but it is a special occasion place as the price is prohibitive. Think Chinese fine dining.

                    I give an honourable mention to the chain, Asian Legend. Food is of very good quality, cleanly prepared and presented, modern but unpretentious restaurant design. Not greasy, nice and healthy(ish).

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: magic
                      food face RE: magic Sep 23, 2007 07:46 PM

                      Magic. Tasty Chinese food IS the bomb Tom. Holy crap, the waiter hates my family too! Why is that? Too bad Sun Lok closed down. RIP.

                      1. re: magic
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                        JimGrinsfelder RE: magic May 21, 2008 07:00 PM

                        Tried Tasty tonight. We went at 9 pm. Service was friendly but not engaging. I tried to ask questions and the guy recommended Chow Mein or Chop Suey. I guess all the chinese restaurant workers think the white people like Chow Mein or Chop Suey. I dunno.

                        Ordered BBQ Chicken Wings, Black Bean Chicken and Sichuan Green Beans. The BBQ Chicken Wings were in no apparent way BBQ. The Black Bean Chicken was not bad, but it wasn't anything special. Sichuan Green Beans were bland.

                        Tasty's food was no where near the good Sichuan places in Saint Paul or Minneapolis (which is no great shrine of Sichuan cuisine).

                        I'd not go back to Tasty.

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                        FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 11:33 AM

                        Actually, Tasty Chinese is the local restaurant that we've been getting delivery and take-out from for years (the restaurant itself is pretty bleak, so we rarely dine in-house). I agree - the food is better than average, but not amazing. It lacks the refinement of good Szechuan cooking - the balancing of hot, sour, salty, sweet (the yin/yang, in effect, of Chinese cooking). Still, it's better than any other Chinese restaurant in the neighbourhood.

                        I think I recall Young Lok from when I first moved to Toronto 10 years ago. Did they have a location near North York City Hall?

                        I've been to Asian Legend on Dundas; again, the food was fine, but not remarkable.

                        1. m
                          magic RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 12:18 PM

                          Young Lok did indeed have a North York location, which was not quite the same as the downtown location. In fact, it wasn't good at all - just big and flashy. That was towards the end of Young Lok's heyday; gotta be about 15 years ago or more. It's funny, I don't find Tasty Chinese any bleaker than any other standard Chinese restaurant - most of which aren't bastions of cutting edge decor. Mainly I love it for its food, which I think is great. Try their mu shu chicken, their pan fried meat dumplings or the two dishes I mentioned above. If it is still not terrific at least I tried to spread the good word. Refined? Probably not, no. Amazing, yaha.

                          1. Kagemusha RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 01:19 PM

                            I loved several places I've simply not had time to get back to and wonder if they'te still afloat? One was Bashu Renjia on Steeles, hands down the best Sichuan I've had but not for those who "pa la" (fear heat); the other was Ding Tai Fung on Hwy 7 that did killer Shanghai dumplings--xiaolong bao and zheng jiao that sang. My Guoyu is strong enough to order and fend off efforts to go for things I might "like" since I could read the menus and knew the food. But without that, many of these places are tough to navigate without the aid of helpful diners. Still, it's worth the drive to Markham!

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Kagemusha
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                              FlavoursGal RE: Kagemusha Jan 23, 2007 01:27 PM

                              Never one to "fear heat," I would love to go to a Szechuan restaurant that serves authentic food that has not been toned down to adjust to the perceived desires of some of its clientele.

                              Does anyone know whether these restaurants that Kagemusha writes about are still around? Are they still good? If they are, perhaps someone on this board could help in my navigation before we head out?

                              1. re: FlavoursGal
                                Kagemusha RE: FlavoursGal Jan 23, 2007 02:43 PM

                                I think Fang's Restaurant on Hwy 7 is still going--it's run by the brother of the guy who(perhaps still)runs Ding Tai Fung a few doors away on Hwy 7. For "fast&late" grub, Jim Chai Kee was(is?)the epitome of great wonton and noodles on W. Beaver Creek in Richmond Hill.
                                We need to cook up a directory of these(often hidden)places that are just too good to pass by. Life's short...

                                1. re: Kagemusha
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                                  FlavoursGal RE: Kagemusha Jan 23, 2007 02:54 PM

                                  Amen!

                                  1. re: Kagemusha
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                                    bjorn_brown RE: Kagemusha Jan 23, 2007 02:57 PM

                                    Jim Chai Kee is still there just off Highway 7. I'm not sure about the "late" part, though, as I believe they close at 8pm. It's a good, very simple HK noodle house. Your choices are either noodles in soup or...noodles in soup. Seriously, you can get rice or egg noodles in soup with sliced beef, huge won tons, homemade fishballs, or any combination thereof. Add a small dish of gai lon (chinese broccoli) with oyster sauce and you have a simple cheap lunch. I seem to recall there being another location on Sheppard, but I may be mistaken.

                                    1. re: bjorn_brown
                                      sumashi RE: bjorn_brown Jan 24, 2007 08:44 AM

                                      *thumbs up* Jim Chai Kee....!
                                      Their shrimp dumplings are gooooood! I always just buy the bowl of just dumplings, no noodles so you get 6 of them instead of just 4 if you order with noodles :)

                                    2. re: Kagemusha
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                                      Blueicus RE: Kagemusha Jan 23, 2007 02:59 PM

                                      Fang's has been closed for some time, alas.

                                      1. re: Blueicus
                                        Kagemusha RE: Blueicus Jan 23, 2007 03:14 PM

                                        As I said, I trolled thru the area some time back and haven't had time till now to return--hence the interest in the current "map" of what worth visiting. Sad to here about Fang's. They were Taiwanese, loved food, and welcomed everyone. I liked Jim Chai Kee for its pared-down, cramped vibe where golfball-sized wonton crammed with shrimp were the norm.Always had to share a table--happily, as a rule.

                                        1. re: Kagemusha
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                                          Blueicus RE: Kagemusha Jan 23, 2007 05:40 PM

                                          I agree, losing Fang's was pretty sad. I hear good things from Jim Chai Kee, but never been. However, I believe that's still around.

                                2. Royaljelly RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 07:02 PM

                                  Fangs was one of our favorites too until they closed down... the place that is there now is quite poor and not really worth a visit. A few shops down from the old Fang's location at the same strip mall is the sister restaurant to the Scarborough's Dumpling King. It's 1-2 shops down from the Tian Bo travel agency. IMHO, not quite as good as the Scarborough location though.

                                  Another truly authentic super spicy Sichuan place that also closed down as Spicy Mama located at Kennedy/Hwy 7. I guess us going there every 2 weeks wasn't enough to help pay their rent.

                                  I never really loved Ding Tai Fung as much as others do. I've had authentic Shao Long Bao in Shanghai back in 2003 from a few restaurants, and never found DTF's to be that stellar. Yet it's always packed full of people, so maybe I'm not ordering the right food? For another option for authentic Shanghainese, one can try Skyland De Shanghai (680 Silverstar Blvd, Scarborough). It's even got a miniature replica of the tower right in the middle of the restaurant! There's also another Shanghainese place that's just off Yonge, on Glen Cameron Road (it's next to the congee place). I was there a few nights ago, but didn't pay attention to the English name. Their pan fried buns were quite good, and my wife kept eyeing this one soup noodle dish on the table next to us. I'll try to find the name for you guys...

                                  Bashu Renjia on Steeles, is that the one that's close to Midland/Steeles, just west of the Tim Hortons/ Wendy's? If that's the one, then I think the English name was Red Chili restaurant, . It certainly was damn spicy and oily too, based on the dishes that I tried there.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Royaljelly
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                                    Blueicus RE: Royaljelly Jan 23, 2007 07:12 PM

                                    Yeah, that's the place I Was talking about. Literally couldn't feel my tongue after.
                                    There's another shanghainese restaurant in the plaza just south of the no frills on silver star. I personally felt that was superior to skyland de shanghai (if it's still there, last I went it was busy).

                                    the only place I went for the xiao long bao in shanghai was the much touted touristy place, which, I personally felt were juicy but the skins were too thick.

                                    1. re: Royaljelly
                                      aser RE: Royaljelly Jan 25, 2007 09:21 PM

                                      Shanghai Xue Yuan (5 Glen Cameron rd) is what you're thinking of. I find it more enjoyable than DTF and certainly a whole lot easier on the wallet. DTF seems to be riding on its Taiwan reputation more than anything.

                                      Another highlight is Shanghai 369 at First Markham Place. The beef tendon cubes are sublime, much superior to DTF's version.

                                      1. re: aser
                                        Chester Eleganté RE: aser Jan 30, 2007 06:55 PM

                                        Fully agree to both. Shanghai Xue Yuan is excellent -- try their various deluxe pork dishes, i.e. Pork Rump with veg, Dong bo yuk (braised pork belly in gravy), lion's head meatballs (Braised minced pork meatballs), etc. The spicy soup noodle with braised beef is also done well, as is the substantial Fresh & salted pork with bamboo shoots casserole soup (I found the menu lying around!), amongst others.

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                                      eco987 RE: Royaljelly Jan 24, 2007 06:13 AM

                                      Dumpling King actually has a website: http://www.dumplingking.ca
                                      When you click the menu you have to click item-# (ex. Noodle 1) to actually see the menu, the first page is just a picture of a recommended dish. I find the money dish to be the "braised sparerib noodle soup" (which I should clarify is actually beef). But I haven't tried enough of the menu to give a good opinion of the restaurant. I have heard from a friend that the Hwy 7 location is not as good as the original on Fich and Midland.

                                      As for Sichaun, I'm surprised no one mentioned hotpot yet. There's a place I use to go to(though haven't been in 4 years) that had the spicy hotpot. It was around finch and midland too, but I don't remember if it was the taco bell plaza or the Dumpling king plaza. Before the meal, they give everyone a peanut sauce cold noodle. But what made it really good was these noodles I've never seen before. The are shaped like Ho Fun but had a chewy texture (like how a Ha Gow skin is chewy but even more so). They were transparent and grey and was recommended to us when we ordered Ho Fun (because they don't have Ho Fun). I've been meaning to go back, but the only thing that really separarated it from all other hotpot places was that great noodle, and I worry they may not have it anymore. The food selection is limited but AYCE.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: eco987
                                        sweetie RE: eco987 Jan 24, 2007 09:10 AM

                                        I think the noodles you are talking about are Fun Pei (phonetic translation). They often come with a garlicy kind of vinegarette and cucumber maybe bits of pork

                                        1. re: sweetie
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                                          eco987 RE: sweetie Jan 24, 2007 09:44 AM

                                          nope...the noodles at the hotpot place are more chewy...and more grey, to the point that you may question how clean the water was. It was not fun pei and you have to cook them yourself. I'm sure it's not any mainstream noodle I've seen in any supermarket. But I do rememebr the man saying the name and it was two words...then second of which was "fun".

                                          1. re: eco987
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                                            Blueicus RE: eco987 Jan 24, 2007 10:23 AM

                                            Perhaps they were taro noodles... those little bundles of thin grayish noodles but of a different shape? At least, I believe they are taro noodles.

                                            1. re: Blueicus
                                              sweetie RE: Blueicus Jan 24, 2007 10:44 AM

                                              perhaps konnyaku .......mmmm this is going to bug me now

                                              1. re: sweetie
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                                                eco987 RE: sweetie Jan 24, 2007 10:52 AM

                                                nice try...but no and no. not thin, like I said, shaped just like ho fun...but not. You have to understand, these noodles are VERY different and I've NEVER seen it at supermarkets. I actually suspect they make their own noodles.

                                                and this has been bugging me for 4 years...cuz I would like to eat then without paying for AYCE.

                                                Okay I looked up the restaurant...it's called Flavor King Szechuan Hot Pot Restaurant Inc. I called them (416-332-1568) and asked about the about the noodles, but he just kept talking about the pre-cooked peanut sauce cold noodles cuz he really didn't understand my canto. So if anyone speaks mando, feel free to asked them for the name of these noodles and whether they still have it since 4 years ago. Again, it looks like ho fan but is chewy, grey and transparent.

                                                1. re: eco987
                                                  Royaljelly RE: eco987 Jul 31, 2007 07:46 PM

                                                  eco987: I believe the holy grail you have been searching for is shu fun, which is based in sweet potato or yam. Common in central China, they are different from fun pi from the north, which is more suitable for cold dishes and usually is based in mung bean. I think the Koreans have it in another incarnation as Chup chae, I am a big fan! You can easily find them in most Asian markets.

                                                  1. re: eco987
                                                    skylineR33 RE: eco987 Jul 31, 2007 08:42 PM

                                                    What it sounds like to me is what is called "Dai Lie Pay" or 拉皮. It is a famous dish from the North Eastern cuisine of China. It is made from potato power, very chewy and eat with peanut sauce.

                                                     
                                                     
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                                          FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Jan 24, 2007 06:32 PM

                                          Had dinner at Hot Spicy Spicy Chinese (Leslie & Finch) tonight. I'm a happy, happy gal!

                                          I haven't had Szechuan this good in years! We arrived shortly after 7:00 and the place was empty, but started to fill up shortly afterwards. The food was excellent - I don't know if it was toned down for us on the heat scale, but it was just perfect. The prices are very reasonable; it was just my husband and me, and the bill came to $47 before tip (and you should know that I lack any restraint at all when it comes to ordering).

                                          My favourite dish was the Dumplings in Spicy Oil Sauce, which consisted of very plump, nicely seasoned pork dumplings in a sauce redolent of chilies and garlic. Other items consumed with great gusto were pan-fried dumplings, Dan-Dan Noodles, MuXu Pork, Pork in Chili Garlic Sauce, and Kung Pao Chicken.

                                          We will definitely return. Thanks to those of you who brought this restaurant to my attention.

                                          11 Replies
                                          1. re: FlavoursGal
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                                            embee RE: FlavoursGal Jan 24, 2007 06:36 PM

                                            Very long ago, there was a place in a garage building at the southeast corner of Dorchester and Bleury in Montreal. I think it was called something like "Shanghai Cafe". I'm sure it is long gone. Is this place part of your past? If it is, how does Hot Spicy Spicy compare?

                                            1. re: embee
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                                              FlavoursGal RE: embee Jan 24, 2007 07:21 PM

                                              No, embee, I don't recall going to a restaurant on that corner. As mentioned before, my first exposure was at Hunan (Restaurant or Palace?) on St. Lawrence in Chinatown. The sign is still there, although it's been closed for at least 15 years.

                                              I also loved Le Piment Rouge when it was located on Metcalfe, just below Ste. Catherine St., before it moved to Peel St. and became too haute for my liking. Peking Garden on Queen Mary and Decarie was really good when it first opened, but kept going downhill. I haven't been there in years; it's still open, so maybe I'll give it another try.

                                              We've been to Le Caveau Szechuan on Monkland a couple of times in the past year or so. It's okay, but the sauces tend to be on the sweet side. They do have dumplings in peanut sauce, though, one of my old-time favourites. And they used to have shrimp toast on the menu, but no longer.

                                              My daughter and I went to Chrysanthemum on Crescent St. a few weeks ago, and I was disappointed. Nothing we ordered had any kick at all and most of the dishes were extremely sweet.

                                              There was a restaurant on Notre Dame (at St-Pierre, I think) in Old Montreal called Szechuan. It, too, was good years ago, but went into decline and I think it's now closed.

                                              There was also Bon Bon Chinese on St-Lawrence (not in Chinatown), but I haven't been there in years, although I think it might still be open.

                                              Back to your question: Hot Spicy Spicy is very good. The dishes on the menu are not reminiscent of the Szechuan restaurants in Montreal. No General Tao chicken, sesame beef, or dumplings in peanut sauce. Not even any hoisin sauce for the MuShu pork. But it's the closest I've come in Toronto to Chinese food that is genuinely spicy, but with the balance that one hopes for, as well.

                                              1. re: FlavoursGal
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                                                embee RE: FlavoursGal Jan 24, 2007 08:10 PM

                                                I assume you never made it to Pauls Deep Sea Shantung on Dundas (before he moved to a 3 storey palace on Spadina and ruined himself).

                                                I used to live on Monkland near Girouard. Is it true that this area is now a foodie destination? It was a wasteland during my time there. I recall a pathetic "Chinese" takeout at Old Orchard and a somewhat decent Indian place in the same general vicinity. The only really good thing to eat in the area was takeout from Mikes Submarines on Somerled (before it was franchised).

                                                1. re: embee
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                                                  FlavoursGal RE: embee Jan 24, 2007 08:22 PM

                                                  Mike's on Somerled was great! We used to go there all the time, sometimes combined with an outing to Cumberland Drugs. Steak and mushroom was my favourite, but they also made great chicken salad. A chicken salad sub from Mike's...mmm...

                                                  embee, you haven't been to Monkland in over 20 years? It started with Franni's (closed down a couple of years ago), a little cafe in the block west of Girouard (on the same side of the street as the old Monkland Theatre) that made great cakes, mostly cheesecakes. And then came a mussels restaurant, a couple of French bistros, and on and on and on. It is a great food street now, from artisanal breads (Premiere Moisson has a shop there), to pastries (Patisserie Nancy is still there, I think - must have been in your day, too), to a St-Viateur Bagel cafe, to an Ethiopian restaurant that's gotten great reviews (have to get there one of these trips), etc.

                                                  Pauls Deep Sea Shantung (love the name) must have been before my time here.

                                                  1. re: embee
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                                                    BLM RE: embee Apr 15, 2007 10:43 PM

                                                    Where exactly was this Mikes Submarines on Somerled located(the cross street?)? How many years ago was this, where you use to order takeout from them? I have a friend who works on Somerled, & we were just talking about the restaurants on Somerled(past & present).

                                                    1. re: BLM
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                                                      FlavoursGal RE: BLM Apr 16, 2007 12:21 PM

                                                      It was, I believe, the original Mikes location. It was on Somerled just west of Cavendish, on the north side of the street.

                                                      1. re: FlavoursGal
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                                                        BLM RE: FlavoursGal Apr 16, 2007 05:17 PM

                                                        It's very interesting. I'll relay this tidbit, & maybe find out more information.

                                              2. re: FlavoursGal
                                                Royaljelly RE: FlavoursGal Jan 24, 2007 10:12 PM

                                                Glad to hear you had a nice time at Hot Spicy Spicy. My wife and I can easily spend upwards of 40+ at these chinese restaurants, with some to doggy bag as well. Next time, try their whole fish in this brown sauce.. it's wonderful. I also love their smoked duck, but it can get a bit salty at times.

                                                And some good news.... I found a handful of menus from those restaurants that I listed above in my first post, so I'll try to scan them in and post a link for you guys to browse. Some of them are in Chinese only...

                                                1. re: Royaljelly
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                                                  FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Jan 25, 2007 04:46 AM

                                                  Thanks, Royaljelly. Last night, on our first visit to Hot Spicy Spicy, we ordered pretty conservatively, just to get a feel for the cooking style. Next time we go, we'll definitely be more adventurous.

                                                2. re: FlavoursGal
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                                                  embee RE: FlavoursGal Apr 15, 2007 07:57 PM

                                                  We tried Hot Spicy Spicy for the first time tonight. It was a variable experience, though the good outweighed the bad. They were extremely friendly and eager to please, and the place had a good vibe. It was about 2/3 full.

                                                  Service, while well meaning, was quite confused. We ordered an onion pancake, a wrapped egg & leek dish, lamb slices in a spicy sauce, the spicy chili chicken, and two beers. I asked for steamed bread, but was told they didn't have it.

                                                  The (very nice) server returned to tell us they were out of the lamb and to choose something else, which we did (a beef dish). She returned with one cold bottle of beer, one warm bottle, and a glass of ice. The tea was not good.

                                                  - The onion pancake tasted better than average, but could have been much crisper

                                                  - The leek wrap never arrived

                                                  - We were served the steamed buns (that we were told they didn't have). These were freshly steamed and very good

                                                  - The lamb (that we were told they didn't have) arrived next. This dish was wonderful. Lamb slices, scallions, leeks,garlic, glass noodles, assorted spices and herbs (including bay leaves, star anise, and some things I didn't recognize) in a searingly hot, oil-based sauce. The surfeit of oil worked with the dish and there were layers of flavour coming through the heat. Amazing.

                                                  - The chicken was, well, interesting. A veritable mountain of red chiles interspersed with little nuggets of highly seasoned chicken. I have never in my life seen so many hot peppers in a serving of food. The dish was really hot peppers garnished with chicken and, though I love very hot food, this was too much. A shame, since it actually tasted quite good. I can't accuse Hot Spicy Spicy of toning down the food for us <LOL>. I plan to serve the 95% of this dish that came home mixed with about 8 parts rice and much coconut milk - not very Chinese, but I expect it will be fine once wimped out like this.

                                                  The main dish portions were huge - each dish could easily have served 4. Despite the confusion when ordering, the bill was correct. They seemed to sincerely care that we were satisfied with their food.

                                                  We aren't likely to go back often, but we will definitely return.

                                                  1. re: embee
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                                                    FlavoursGal RE: embee Apr 16, 2007 12:23 PM

                                                    Having returned to Hot Spicy Spicy a few weeks ago for a second visit, I'll have to agree with your last comment. It was not quite as good as the first time around.

                                                3. Royaljelly RE: Royaljelly Feb 3, 2007 09:02 PM

                                                  Ok guys, here's my first attempt to post a link of some of the menu's to the places that I suggested in my first post. Hope it works...

                                                  There's a few more little places to add to the list, after I found their menus.

                                                  Dong Bei Wan Shun Garden - located in the food court portion of a strip mall just south of the No Frills on silver star blvd in Scarborough. The place is slow as heck in cooking orders, but well worth the time. The highlight is this dough skin wrapped meat rolled into a log and lightly pan fried. They make it fresh as soon as you order it, it's amazing. Great place to get take-out (just order like 30mins in advance and you should be ok). I don't think they speak any English at all though.

                                                  Here's the links to their menu
                                                  Page 1 - http://img482.imageshack.us/img482/48...
                                                  Page 2 - http://img452.imageshack.us/img452/61...

                                                  ==================================

                                                  Yunnan Cross Bridge Rice Noodle restaurant

                                                  I completely forgot about this place in my first post. I used to work in the medical building just across the parking lot, and went here for lunch and dinner quite often. Their cross bridge noodles are supposed to be the trademark dish, but I find it nothing special. What I really like is their cold seaweed appetizer, green pepper and mushroom fried rice (a bit oily, but the shrooms they use are amazingly flavourful) and this one fatty pork dish that keeps me coming back for more.

                                                  Menu:
                                                  Page 1 - http://img111.imageshack.us/img111/27...
                                                  Page 2 - http://img361.imageshack.us/img361/18...

                                                  ========================================

                                                  1. Royaljelly RE: Royaljelly Feb 3, 2007 09:15 PM

                                                    Dumpling King's Menu (Chinese only) - Scarborough location

                                                    Page 1 - http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/15...
                                                    Page 2 - http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/95...

                                                    ============================================

                                                    Hot Spicy Spicy

                                                    Page 1 - http://img158.imageshack.us/img158/61...
                                                    Page 2 - http://img50.imageshack.us/img50/3669...
                                                    Page 3 - http://img50.imageshack.us/img50/1827...

                                                    ==============================================

                                                    The Old House (Chinese only

                                                    )

                                                    Page 1 - http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/34...
                                                    Page 2 - http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/28...

                                                    ================================================

                                                    I also have copies of the Backyard Garden and Skyland de Shanghai, but they're quite lengthy. If anyone really wants to see them ahead of time, let me know and I can try to scan them in too.

                                                    1. orangewasabi RE: Royaljelly Feb 4, 2007 07:16 AM

                                                      thank you so much for going to the effort of posting these menus. I totally want to try H&S and have a question for you . . . any idea about their crisp duck? or braised duck with tea?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: orangewasabi
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                                                        FlavoursGal RE: orangewasabi Feb 4, 2007 07:18 AM

                                                        You took the words right out of my mouth, orangewasabi.

                                                        Royaljelly, you spent a lot of time scanning these menus and posting them. We've already been to Hot Spicy Spicy on your recommendation, and plan to return this evening.

                                                        Thanks for the recommendations.

                                                      2. f
                                                        FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Feb 4, 2007 07:48 AM

                                                        We've decided to try out Szechuan Legend tonight, although I have a huge craving for Hot Spicy Spicy's dumplings in spicy oil sauce.

                                                        Does anyone have any menu recommendations to add to Royaljelly's?

                                                        1. f
                                                          FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Feb 4, 2007 06:46 PM

                                                          Szechuan Legend - 3280 Midland

                                                          We had a lovely meal here tonight. The restaurant has been open for only 8 months, and it turns out that it is a sister restaurant to Backyard Garden at Warden & Steeles. It's a beautiful, elegant space, with wonderfully attentive service. The menu, written in Chinese and English, includes photos of many of the dishes.

                                                          As usual, we ordered way too much. Our server, whose English was quite good, warned us about the amount we were ordering, but we explained that we always enjoy the leftovers the next day. The food was delicious, the spicing and flavours of each dish very distinctive.

                                                          Shortly after placing our order, a man we assumed to be the owner or manager, greeted us warmly and welcomed us to the restaurant. We happened to be the only non-Asian people there, and he asked us where we were from. Thinking he meant what area of the city, we told him, and he said, "No, no. Where are you from originally?" We told him Montreal, and this seemed like a logical answer to him. I then asked him where he was from, and he answered Mainland China, to which I responded, "Sichuan Province?" He said, "Yes. How do you know Sichuan Province?" When I told him I'd been eating Szechuan food for years in Montreal, he said that the Szechuan food there is not real. "THIS is real!"

                                                          This interesting, and very charming, dialogue got me thinking about a few things. First off, does one have to be from somewhere other than Toronto to seek out a Szechuan restaurant in this city? Are native Torontonians unfamiliar with regions outside of Canton? Secondly, that he was probably correct in his assertion that the food I'd eaten in Montreal was not "real." Indeed, in the short time frame that I've tried both Szechuan Legend and Hot Spicy Spicy, I've come away having eaten dishes that are on a different level from the familiar, mostly spicy-sweet dishes that I always thought of as Szechuan, like orange chicken, sesame beef, General Tao chicken, kung pao chicken, twice-cooked pork. It seems to me that these two restaurants are, in fact, more authentic than what many people, including me, have been exposed to previously.

                                                          It was also very refreshing to feel embraced by the management and staff of Szechuan Legend. Oftentimes, unfortunately, we feel that we are being treated as outsiders.

                                                          The prices at Szechuan Legend are very reasonable. We ordered a combination of spicy dishes and mild ones, because our younger daughter was with us and she's not too adventurous. We had dumplings in hot chili sauce, pan fried meat dumplings, gongbao shrimp, spicy duck hot pot with beer, spicy spare ribs in special sauce, stir-fried pea shoots, beef with broccoli, fried rice, Shanghai fried noodle, and hot and sour soup. The bill came to $99 with tax and beverages.

                                                          We'll definitely return to both Hot Spicy Spicy and Szechuan Legend.

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: FlavoursGal
                                                            Royaljelly RE: FlavoursGal Feb 4, 2007 06:59 PM

                                                            FlavoursGals, glad you and your family had a great meal there! My wife really likes the management there too.. I once accidentally gave them 2 $50 bills that were stuck together and they graciously returned the extra bill back to me. Most other chinese places might have just kept it and not let me know about it.

                                                            1. re: Royaljelly
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                                                              FlavoursGal RE: Royaljelly Feb 4, 2007 07:03 PM

                                                              Not just the management, but the whole staff, was attentive and obviously interested in our well-being. We were even politely asked whether we were okay with the chopsticks. We were, but the gesture was obviously made so that we would enjoy our meal to the fullest.

                                                              Thanks again, Royaljelly!

                                                            2. re: FlavoursGal
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                                                              FlavoursGal RE: FlavoursGal Feb 6, 2007 01:52 PM

                                                              I just read the following New York Times article, which was posted to General Chowhounding Topics, about the origins of General Tao/Tso chicken. It answers some of the questions in my post, above. I'd be curious to know if the same ex-pat chef invented orange chicken, sesame beef and the like, as well.

                                                              In Montreal, where I first came to love what I thought was Szechuan food, the restaurants' menus featured dishes that were supposedly from the provinces of Hunan and Sichuan.

                                                              http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/mag...

                                                              1. re: FlavoursGal
                                                                Kagemusha RE: FlavoursGal Feb 7, 2007 05:00 AM

                                                                Check out Fuchsia Dunlop's "Land of Plenty," hands down the best Sichuan cookbook available.She wrote the NYT piece and has a Hunan cookbook out soon.

                                                                1. re: Kagemusha
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                                                                  FlavoursGal RE: Kagemusha Feb 7, 2007 05:59 AM

                                                                  Thanks, Kagemusha. I will.

                                                            3. Royaljelly RE: Royaljelly Feb 4, 2007 07:09 PM

                                                              My wife picked up a new copy of the dumpling king's take out menu (after getting $50 worth of food), and good news is that it comes with English too! We always seem to enjoy their dill filled dumplings. Someone also posted their website too, along with some pics.

                                                              Here's the links for Dumpling King's menu:
                                                              Page 1 - http://img254.imageshack.us/img254/51...
                                                              Page 2 - http://img164.imageshack.us/img164/17...
                                                              Page 3 - http://img164.imageshack.us/img164/67...

                                                              1. orangewasabi RE: Royaljelly Feb 5, 2007 07:30 AM

                                                                I used our search for a working car wash to lure my husband to Hot Spicy Spicy yesterday afternoon. It's a winner for sure, thanks RoyalJelly.

                                                                We had the dumplings in spicy oil sauce, per FlavoursGal, and they were my husband's favourite - great pork and onion flavours. We also had the tea braised / smoked duck which was my favourite -- it's very dry and so incredibly flavourful, and the only not-spicy dish we ordered. We also had the cabbage in spicy oil, which my husband the nonvegetable eater scarfted up. And the hot,spicy,sour vermicilli noodles. It was surprising that the food could have such a pleasant warmth, each dish with a unique chili/spice profile, without flipping over the top to being just hot for the sake of heat. Being Szechun, all the dishes were oily but they didn't sit heavy at all.

                                                                The food was just really good, the service is friendly and homestyle and it's one of the cleaner 'good' chinese restaurants I've been in. At 2pm on a Sunday is was 60% full, we speculate it was the after church crowd?

                                                                I am shameless at staring at other people's food so next time I want to try the sausages -- they look double grilled and sliced thinly lengthwise, kinda like chinese gyros, the spicy oil bamboo shoots (I'm thinking that anything with 'spicy oil' in the name is going to be great), the eggplant, and some of the pork dishes.

                                                                In reality, two people could leave there stuffed for under $25 but it's impossible not to over order when everything looks so good and is so well priced. as an fyi, it is cash only.

                                                                Question though: I saw a couple tables (at least3) who brought out their own drinks to have there. In one case, it was a large family, and the mum hauled out bottles of Nestle water for everyone. Is that okay? it's the height of rudeness at most western restaurants but no one said anything at HSS?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: orangewasabi
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                                                                  FlavoursGal RE: orangewasabi Feb 5, 2007 07:47 AM

                                                                  I'm looking forward to a return visit there as well, orangewasabi. One thing I didn't mention in my previous post about Hot Spicy Spicy is that the sauce for the dumplings in spicy oil sauce did not seem oily at all. When we had it, it was rich and flavourful, with no evidence of oil. I was actually sipping it our of my bowl as I was eating the dumplings.

                                                                  By the way, Szechuan Legend is also cash-only. We just squeaked by last night.

                                                                  1. re: FlavoursGal
                                                                    Royaljelly RE: FlavoursGal Feb 6, 2007 06:34 AM

                                                                    Oh ya, I always forget to mention that about 90% of chinese restaurants now in Markham/Richmond Hill/Scarborough are cash only, so bring lots or ask for the nearest ATM machine before hand.

                                                                    As for bringing your own drinks to these places, probably ok if you have kids, but as adults it might look bad. In the past, I have brought in a canned drink that I had started before I entered the restaurant, so they didn't seem to complain at all.

                                                                    That being said, the soya milk that you get at HSS is a pretty tiny plastic ikea cup (which I always order since I can't handle the spicy food without it).

                                                                  2. re: orangewasabi
                                                                    c
                                                                    caitlink RE: orangewasabi Apr 16, 2007 09:11 PM

                                                                    My mom does it all the time. Most Chinese restaurants serve tea and my Mom needs water to take her medication before each meal. As long as you are not bringing Cokes and drinks, no one ever says anything. You are right though that this would not be allowed in most other restaurants.

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