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Dec 31, 2007 11:18 AM

Lai Wah Heen... Am I Missing Something?

My husband and I enjoy dim sum quite a bit and decided to try Lai Wah Heen on Boxing Day. What a disappointment, particularly after the hoopla it has received on this board and other places / reviews!

We had several of the 'specialty' dim sum items, which were quite good, but the rest was 'average' at best - there was nothing particularly wrong, but nothing particularly outstanding, given the price. However, I was suprised about one thing: The service in particular was lacking. And before anyone gives me any guff about 'what do I expect, going on a holiday', this is a large hotel... And for the price, the service should be better than it was.

It took three tries to get the drink order right. Cosmopolitain. How hard is that, particularly when I pointed to it in the drink menu that they had given us? I don't know what the first try was, but it wasn't a cosmo, that's for sure (and let's just say, I'm intimately acquainted with the cosmo as a libation of choice!). That was to start. We had ordered snow pea leaf in garlic as a side. It arrived 20 minutes after we had finished our last dish, just as we were signalling for the bill. Frankly, we had forgotten all about it. Apparently, so had they.

As I said earlier, the specialty dim sum were great - particularly the duckling with foie gras paste ... but I think I much prefer their sister restaurant, Lai Toh Heen, where the food is good and the service is spectacular. But then again, it has to be, given its location. Attracting the locals will only happen if they feel warm and welcome...

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  1. Agreed 100%. I love Lai Toh Heen, and far prefer it to Lai Wai Heen. I find LWH to be good and the atmosphere is classy... but I prefer the less formal atmosphere at LTH, plus LWH always leaves me feeling like I paid way too much money considering.... whereas LTH I feel like it the food & experience was worth every penny.

    The service at LTH is TERRIFIC. They are very friendly and attentive. The atmosphere is cosy, funky and elegant, and the food is wonderful. I've been there for dinner and dim sum, both are excellent. It's one of my favourite restos in the city.

    (For those looking for an nice entertaining evening out, I also like that LTH has various "events" (tasting and dinner menus/programs) at various times each season which look very fun, though I've never attended them.)

    1. Have to agree; two trips to LWH left me definitely unimpressed. OK food, nice surroundings, uneven service, really high prices. Here in Richmond Hill, I can get better food, better service, and better prices, although I admit most places don't match LWH for decor/place settings/etc.

      1. I've never been to Lai Toh Heen, but I really do like Lai Wah Heen. I don't go on a regular basis, but the food is lovely. The ingredients are super-fresh and the execution is great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: merlot143

          Only been to LWH about 3 times over a 5 year period...my experience is that it's the tops for Chinese cuisine in the GTA. The prices do keep me from going more often....but for a special occasion, that's the place for me.

          1. re: T Long

            Just to clarify, I think LWH is very good in terms of quality, and has an elegant (though maybe stuffy) setting - no argument there. It's just a the price/quality ratio is out of whack (like KevinB wrote above). Paying $100+ for 2 people at dim sum and leaving hungry is excessive when you could go elsewhere and have a meal just as good for much less (and not necessarily have to endure nasty bathrooms :) ). You know you are paying extra for things other than the actual food - but it is very nice for business lunches or other special events that call for a more formal, tasteful setting. Also, in the downtown area, for a high-end atmosphere there's not much competition.

            What I appreciate so much about LTH is it finds a perfect balance between high end sensibility, price point, formal/informal, authentic/creative, excellent quality and funky/classy setting (I love the decor) and wonderful service.

        2. I completely agree with you! I was very let down by my experience at Lai Wah Heen. I thought the dim sum was average at best, and the service was not that great. I have never been to Lai Toh Heen....I will give this sister restaurant a try the next time I visit Toronto.