Guide me to great Chinese food
It's my first time in Toronto--I will be staying at the Westin Harbor Castle--I am in search of great food, most especially great Chinese food. I've been reading the threads about Szechuan restaurants, and about dim sum in Toronto--my question is, what is really superb and also within striking distance of my part of town? I'd be glad to hear about other cuisines as well, if there's something notable. Thanks so much!
There is nothing much around the Harbour Castle area. However, right beside the Convention Centre that is opposite the hotel is the street car # 510 (the stop is underground) that will take you right to Chinatown - Spadina . Get off on Dundas, for example Rol San which is popular for Dim sum is about 2 blocks north of the stop. (Public transit is very safe in Toronto, in case you are wondering.) Or you can take a cab, should be around $10 one way.
There is an expensive steak house - Harbour 60 - just a few minutes' walk from the hotel, look for the comments on here (note in Canada we spell Harbour with a U in it).
One of the best — and fanciest next to Lai Wah Heen — downtown dim sum spots is right next door to your hotel: Pearl Harbourfront in the Queen's Quay Terminal. Elegant room, great window views of the lake and cart service, too, and not all that expensive if you stick to the dim sum (aprox $3 to $5 per plate).
Go on weekdays unless you like a mob scene.
Lai Wah Heen, the best (and most expensive) dim sum, in elegant surroundings, I've ever had.
Walk through Chinatown (Spadina-Dundas) and look at a few menus and read the posted reviews. There are many good ones.
Mothers Dumplings just off Dundas is great for lunch or snacks.
Most Toronto Chinese restaurants fall into one of 2 classes. One is the old type of place in Chinatown. The food is mediocre to poor. The other is the Hong Kong Style cooking found in the newer restaurtants, most located in the suburbs. Hong Kong cooking is less traditional and uses a wider range of ingredients than you might expect. These are usually a better bet. Of these, the better ones, like Dragon Dynasty, good but not exceptional There is nothing very much in regional cooking like Hunan, Nanking and even Szechuan.
There are few exception. Evenyone raves about Lai Wah Heen. I was there for the regular menu and found is so-so to say the least and very expensive. I've not tried the dim sum, which is their trademark.
But there are some definite winners on Spadina. A new favourite of mine is E-Pan, located on the east side of the street, north of Baldwin (about halfway between Dundas and College). Really good Chinese food in a very attractive setting. Super nice service as well. I'd suggest the deep fried grouper, the three meat fried rice, and lemon chicken. I tried the General Tso's Chicken there too, but was disappointed. For that there's only one place---Taste of China Seafood Restaurant, 338 Spadina!
And a couple of doors south of Taste of China is The Dumpling House. Great dumplings there and terrific value!
If you wan't great chinese food in Toronto go to the Castle Dragon restaurant on Dupont just west of Spadina. It's very small, just seven tables but the family run business produces some of the best food in town. Try the spicy mixed meat and vegatables or the Hunan Beef, both are top notch and the portions are amazing. The shu mai as an appatizer is A-1 with a little of the house hot sauce.The decour is not much but you will definatly leave satisfied.
P.S. Look for Toronto Hydro Vehicles outsidee any restaurant in the city. These guy's seem to find the most amazing places.