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50's style Westernized Chinese Food

I am looking for terrific comfort food found in Cantonese restaurants. The kind where the decor has deep black booths, paintings of geisha girls in mint and gold, and where they take pride in a home made chicken ball. Do you know what I mean? The China house on Eginton and Bathurst is a perfect example. I realize that I will probably get some snobbery about this one. Everyone likes the authentic stuff, as do I. I grew up with szechuan. I'm getting older and can appreciate more comforting bland food too. There's something very relaxing about shovelling chow mein and home made egg rolls down on a Friday night when you just don't feel like a trendy restaurant. Anybody feelin me? Help me out hounds.....

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  1. Mayflower, on Royal York near Lawrence. Take-out only, but great food.

    1. If you're including takeout and live in the east end, try the International Chop Suey House. It's 50s-style all right - the place has been around since that era. All the old standards, a bit bland, and they deliver in the area. 955 Kingston Rd. near Scarborough Rd., telephone 416 698-1661 & 2

      1. Hey, hey,.....let's hear it for the 'old tyme' .............
        We have been customers of The China House for almost as long as they have been in business...that is not to say that we use them soley BUT they have a distinct place in our hearts and we order from them at least 2 or 3 times a month.......fear not about snobbery...those who will dis will dis!
        Go for it and enjoy!! Order some of those 'long' bar b que ribs...they are divine!!!

        12 Replies
        1. re: pearlD

          You must also. remember Canton Terrace (which sadly is no longer) and Sea Hi (which sadly is still around)!! Wow, this takes me back. Does anybody still frequent Sea Hi?
          Man that place was dumpy then, I can only imagine what it looks like now

          1. re: millygirl

            Careful millygirl, Sea Hi has now been declared an architectural classic of its era, and one of the few that remain in Toronto ;-)

            (I last ate there in the seventies. I'd be surprised if anything has changed for better or worse.)

            1. re: embee

              Unfortunately, I know people who still consider it their favourite and order from it regularly. It's beyond disgusting in many ways.

              For me it lost it's appeal around 1988 when I was in high school and we would order the chicken sticks wrapped in bacon after a night of "partying". Those chicken sticks wrapped in bacon (so authentically Chinese) hold a fond place in my youthful food memories ;-)

              1. re: embee

                LOL!!! We use to walk up to Canton Terrace on our school lunch for egg rolls and chicken fried rice with sweet and sour sauce. They had lineups of kids waiting...everyone ordered the same thing. You know what, those egg rolls were damn good. I could go for one right now....well, that or perhaps a meal at Mistura :)

              2. re: millygirl

                Actually I do remember Canton Terrace (but never ate there) Yes, I also remember Sea Hi but only ate there a couple of times...we used to go to the 'original' Sea Hi downtown...also the Nanking, Sai Woo and who could forget the 'original' Lichee Gardens and Number 12 !!!!
                I know I am truly dating myself now!!

                1. re: pearlD

                  Pearl, My parents loved the original Lichee Gardens, (downtown) and we ate there almost every Sunday.
                  The best honey garlic spareribs ever!
                  I think that Lee Gardens would be the closest replacement to-day.

                  1. re: erly

                    Back in the days, the Nanking, Sai Woo, and Lichee Gardens were among the upper levels of Canadian-Chinese cooking, where there was a smattering of dishes like Cantonese Chow Mein which one did not typically see in the mom & pop Chinese restaurants of the day and in a manner were at the forefront of cuisine aimed more at ethnic Chinese (some call this "authentic") tastes rather than a western palate. Nevertheless both your current "ho-lee-chow" type fast food and your typical Richmond Hill/Markham authentic restaurants are evolved from these roots. How they evolved is simple economics of demand/supply. Back to the issue of good old fashion Canadian-Chinese, I think elements are still found in some of the staples like SS Pork, Fried Rice, and basic stir-fries that are found in most Chinese food establishments...including "authentic" ones. I think the real question is where can one still find the best egg rolls (not spring rolls)....a true Canadian-Chinese invention.

              3. re: pearlD

                Back in the early seventies, China House was (ironically) one of the few places in Toronto to serve Northern and, I've been told, reasonably authentic Chinese food. I've got another post somewhere on Chowhound about our adventures getting them to admit they had it, and then to actually serve it to us. Ah the memories.

                Do they still list their wonton soup as "kreplach?

                1. re: embee

                  The reference is here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358709 where embee discovers J. Kates lifting something from Baron de Groot. This thread is great fun.

                  1. re: embee

                    I was there last night. Kreplach are totally still on the menu!

                  2. re: pearlD

                    Those long ribs are still incredible. Oh dear are they ever so tasty and sticky. God Bless China House.

                    1. re: magic

                      Baruch Hashem for the China House.

                  3. - Lots of east enders rave about Seabreeze on Queen (though, personally, I dislike it intensely).

                    - The Wokker on Queen has the appropriate ambiance and quite good food. However, it might not be sufficiently authentically inauthentic. They have most of the dishes you likely seek, but beware of things like the beef with (pickled sushi) ginger that wouldn't have existed in 50's Toronto.

                    - The Peking Express delivery place on Parliament gets good reviews, though I can't offer a personal endorsement.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: embee

                      Does anyone remember "Sam the Chinese Food Man"?

                      For many, this type of Chinese restaurant was the guiltless way for a Jew to eat pork. Many an observant Jew, who would not think of cooking a pork chop at home would happily consume many spareribs. "Kosher in, treyfe out" seemed to be the motto.

                      1. re: ekammin

                        Do I remember? Yes.

                        Did I ever eat there? No.

                        1. re: ekammin

                          Oh my goodness. I love you guys. This has been a dream come true. I'm writing down all your knowledgabel suggestions. Ekammin, every jew knows...

                          "Ribs aren't Pork!" wink.

                          1. re: food face

                            Hi, food face -

                            Well, shrimp in lobster sauce, lobster cantonese, wonton soup with sliced pork, etc., are all competely Kosher - aren't they?

                            1. re: ekammin

                              As long as your'e eating it in a Chinese restaurant it's kosher.

                              1. re: food face

                                But ONLY when you are eating it in a Chinese restaurant.

                      2. Does anyone remember the Moonglow on west side of Yonge around Lawrence? I think it closed a few years back but that was PERFECT for that 50's style chinese dinner.
                        Far East in Etobicoke is take out/delivery but pretty good.
                        Does anyone have any other recommendations for a place like this in North York?

                        Also should mention I came on this site because I had a craving for this very thing today! I usually stop the craving with some lemon chicken from T&T but it's too far to drive today....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: jacquieF

                          I also thought of the Moonglow when I saw the title of this thread. And yes it is indeed gone. Believe it or not, the Moonglow Tavern and Restaurant was actually open back in the 40s.

                          1. re: mikeb

                            I had totally forgotten about MOONGLOW.....I worked at Yonge and Eglinton (the old, now gone OHIP building...they tore it down and put up more than a parking lot>Minto Place<) Friday after work the 'girls' took themselves out for Chinese Food and the first choice was always the Moonglow! As I recall, they even had those silly drinks with 'umbrella's perched on top"!
                            We're talking a seriously long time ago!

                        2. 50's style Chinese...Look no further than Sea-High on Bathurst. Its actually used as a "location" for movies that need a 50's style chinese restaurant.

                          By the way, anybody know where to get the old school chinese food in classic take-out containers like they eat from on Seinfield?

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Teffub

                            I've seen the containers for sale but they were empty. If I read your post correctly you are looking for the food to go with, correct?

                            1. re: millygirl

                              Yeah - with the food in it - Seinfeld style....thanks

                              1. re: Teffub

                                The only place I've ever seen those containers actually used is a thai place at the food court at Scarborough Town Centre. Really. And the thai food is really good too.

                            2. re: Teffub


                              Much more friendly to the environment than styro. I hope someone does have a place in mind.

                              1. re: Teffub

                                In sixties New York, my home at that time, virtually ALL take out - Chinese and deli - was packaged in those containers. Perhaps it still is - I don't know. But the food in Montreal at that time, and in Toronto when I arrived in 1970, was already being sold in plastic and/or foil containers. Perhaps the Seinfeld containers were - or even are - a local New York thing.

                                I recall getting similar containers at Whole Foods when they first opened in Toronto, but I haven't been there lately.

                                1. re: embee

                                  It's definitely not an exclusively New York thing. I've gotten takeout or leftovers packed in those containers in Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, etc. But they do seem to be disappearing these days, and I've never seen them in Toronto.

                              2. I had decent western-style Chinese food from a placed called Helen's or Helena's near Steeles once. O Mei had really good food, but I think they're more authentic now.

                                1. Blossom Inn on Wilson, between Dufferin and Keele--I swear it's still there. I went in the late 60's. Also, some place on Dufferin, south of Lawrence, I think. Can't remember the name. It may also still be there.

                                  1. I totally miss Canton Terrace! If I knew where their cooks were now that's where I'd eat!

                                    Finding a good comfort chinese food place since has been hard. We liked Garlic Pepper North when it existed but then it turned into a cheap buffet then it went to another style of Asian food... it died. The one downtown well... it's downtow and we're North so... not to mention the oone downtown sucked in comparison with major hit and miss issues! Then there's where I go for Peking duck which is awesome for Peking duck and that fills me so much I've never tried anything else - mind you they again don't have the dishes I loved at CT! beef & snow peas, honey garlic chicken wings, butterfly shrimp (the dry kind not that nasty sauce kind!), shrimp in lobster sauce and subgum fried rice oooh and won tons - oh dayum! CT I miss youuuuuuuuu!!! Dragon house on Sheppard has the butterfly shrimp like Canton terrace but otherwise their items are fairly greasy and they are NOT CT! If you go downtown - easy to find decent chinese but mid and uptown... pfffffttttttttt so sad so so so sad!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Rainbolt

                                      Thanks for bringing this post back from the dead Rainbolt. Canton Terrace sounded like a real gem. Let us know if you come across anything that comes close!

                                      1. re: Rainbolt

                                        Ah !! Canton Terrace !! Such memories !! I still crave their Vancouver ribs ( we ALWAYS ordered two of those). Places like China House and Sea Hi were the "names" in Uptown Chinese back then, as were Sai Woo, Lichee Gardens and Kwongchow in the old Chinatown. Going way back, Number 12 Elizabeth Street was probably the most well known "secret". It is extremely difficult to find this 50's stlyle stuff anymore. Maybe we will all have to wait until Lichee Gardens finally re-opens in the theatre district as their website has been promising for so long. Any of you out there have any info?
                                        I haven't tried the Honey Bee on Queen Street in The Beach, but it sure looks like old school. Further east on Queen is the "Goof" (Garden Gate), a throwback to the days of the Canadian Chinese Cafe with Canadian and "Chinese" menu sections. I haven't been there for ages but it probably hasn't changed much. Sadly, I think the style of food which we are all talking about pretty much is left to the takeout joints to provide.

                                        Lichee Garden
                                        1416 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J8A1, CA

                                        1. re: Big Kahuna 1

                                          OMG YESSSSSSSSSS the Dry Vancouver Spareribs!!!!!! Oh lord.... so not fair...There was at least O Mei but the one at Bathurst and Sheppard has been closed for longer than Canton Terrace has been, the one at Steeles and Hilda which didn't have quite the same menu, has closed about a yr ago now. The only one I know of left is in Richmond HIll and I've never been. Oh lord I think I'm going to at least give in to some Peking Duck at Peking Man on Sheppard West of Leslie here soon!

                                          O Mei
                                          248 Steeles Ave W, Thornhill, ON L4J1A1, CA

                                          Peking Man Restaurant
                                          1108 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2K2V9, CA

                                      2. I would LOVE to find a place in Toronto like the Lingnan in Edmonton -- as seen on TV in the show Family Restaurant with the Quon family.