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Jan 13, 2008 02:39 PM

Top five chinese in TO

I will be in TO for 48 hours and I want to eat only chinese food. What are your top five stops ? All price ranges, all categories and any location. I have an expense account, a car and time. It can be dim sum or super fancy or take out. Anything. Just your "coups de coeur", which means anything you loooooove with your heart.
And please don't tell me to read a zillion threads. Just go for a top five.

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  1. No particular order, just current fav 5s:
    1. soup dumplings at Chinese Traditional Bun (on Dundas, north side, west of Spadina)
    2. peking duck at Chung King Garden (behind Pacific Mall at Steeles & Kennedy)
    3. congee at Congee Queen (on Lawrence, south side, west of Don Mills)
    4. dim sum at Lai Wai Heen (on Chestnut, south of Dundas, west of Bay)
    5. congee at King's Noodle (on Spadina, west side, north of Dundas)

    4 Replies
    1. re: fickle

      i think top chinese is in the north end of the city ... i cant name top five, but definitely try bbq pork (char siu, or even the yu zhu ) at Peaktop at First Markham. hands down the best in the city. bit far for me, but i will drive there just to satisfy a craving ... which is hitting now .... mmm ... melt in your mouth bbq pork ... we took some friends from HK there, and they said it was better than stuff from HK ... just a little bit far from downtown tho.

        1. re: mcLo

          1. Lai Wah Heen
          2. New Sky
          3. Szechuan Legend

        2. re: fickle

          Thank you for the advice !!!!

        3. The original comment has been removed
          1. Possible itinerary... (depends on where you're staying though)

            Day 1 - Dim Sum @ Lai Wah Heen or Lai Toh Heen, then drive up to Peaktop on Hwy 7 as jennjen18 suggested and show up around 6pm to get some takeout suckling baby BBQ pork (not the regular BBQ pig that most chinese BBQ sell). Gobble it up quickly as an appetizer, as it won't taste the same after it's cooled down. Head west to O-mei on Hwy 7 for dinner, order the lobster 4 ways off their chinese menu... do NOT order from their english menu, beg the waiter to pick other stuff off the chinese menu if you can't read chinese. Go home and digest.

            Day 2 - Wake up & don't eat breakfast, save it for lunch at Szechuan Legend in Scarborough (on Midland), or if you're still craving for dim sum, either City Inn Chinese or Casa Imperial (Markham). Go shopping at Pacific mall, etc, then for dinner head to either Fantasy Eatery or Maple Yip (both in Scarborough) for some well cooked and reasonably priced Cantonese fare. Try some Chinese desserts at this place by Silverstar Blvd (forget the name, but it's next to the Amigo on the same side as the big No Frills). Then head back to Montreal w/ food stories and photos that'll make all your friends jealous. :)

            Don't forget to report back on what you ended up having!

            19 Replies
            1. re: Royaljelly

              Thank you sooooooo much for the advice. I will report back !

              1. re: Royaljelly

                You won't be disappointed with this itinernary. However, IMO, I do prefer Casa Imperial over City Inn for dim sum. Also, prepare to have a long wait at Fantasy Eatery even with reservation (if they take it). Or if you like shark fin/abalone, head to Regal 16 of Richmond Hill for the supreme version.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  BTW, I didn't include any downtown spots aside from LWH, since I live uptown and really don't have a need eat Chinese downtown.

                  Ya, Regal 16... hear lots of good things about them (haven't tried yet), will have to take my parents there next month. Between that place, O mei and LTH, I'm gonna go broke after they leave.

                  1. re: Royaljelly

                    Also forgot to mention that the Peaktop BBQ suckling baby pig is only available on weekends. It goes fast once dinner patrons arrive, so that's why I suggested showing up at 6pm.

                  2. re: skylineR33

                    Casa Imperial's dim sum seconded. Its dim sum is fantastic and more affordable than Lai Wah Heen or Lai Toh Heen. Service is occasionally slack, particularly during the busy hours, but still fervently seconded. I also thoroughly enjoy the front dining room with its pseudo-Rococo airs, enormous paintings, and plethora of gold -- excessive, but somehow appropriate. Also, dinner there is quite good as well.

                    You could also try Casa Imperial's sister restaurant, Full House (Richmond Hill, Hwy 7 at Bayview). It's a notch lower on the posh-ness scale, but they have moderately good dimsum.

                    For some of the largest, juiciest, freshest shrimp wontons for wonton noodle soup (wonton mein) on Toronto, head to Jim Chai Kee. (In the strip mall in West Beaver Creek at Hwy 7). Its menu, service and decor is very limited, but those wontons are worth it, as is the housemade chili oil.

                    For xiao long bao, head to Ding Tai Fung (First Markham Place, Hwy 7 near Woodbine), Hi Shanghai (Steeles at Kennedy, mall opposite Pacific Mall), or 3 6 9 (Peachtree Centre, Kennedy at Hwy 7). They all make decent xiao long bao, not mind-blowing, but with sufficiently thin skins in comparison to some other places I've tried in Toronto.

                    1. re: lsk

                      I found Full House now become a place for banquet style of dining now. When I was there last time, there were at least 5 families (at least 2 tables of 10 each) doing celebration there.

                      Well, I have to say their banquet menu is some of the best in GTA (quality vs value).

                    2. re: skylineR33

                      I totally agree Casa Imperial is probably the best dim sum in the GTA. The line ups sucks, service is slow, and the hostess has attitude, but nonetheless worth the hastle. Most of the dishes have a twist to them that makes them unique. I find most of the other dim sum houses more of less fast food dim sum and bores me.

                      1. re: mortgageguy

                        Have tried both Casa Imperial and LWH several times. While expensive, felt I got what I paid for at LWH...while at Casa Imperial, (except for the first time), a feeling of disappointment....for the prices they charge, I expected better.

                        1. re: T Long

                          You try what ? Dim sum or dinner at Casa Imperial/ LWH ? Do you pay the same price for having dim sum/dinner in both places ?

                          1. re: skylineR33

                            I think the discussion was about dim sum

                            1. re: T Long

                              I see. However, the price of dim sum at Casa Imperial is much less than LWH. Try the "seafood dumpling in clear broth" and Har Gow at Casa, it is better than LWH.

                    3. re: Royaljelly

                      i think i would go fantasy eastery rather than maple yip, .... despite the wait! :) 'coz its goooooood... but dont expect top notch service.

                      1. re: jennjen18

                        where are epan and maple yip located? And what are the chinese names? I see them mentioned a lot but not familiar with these spots. Thx.

                        1. re: caitlink

                          Here's Maple Yip
                          (416) 297-1438

                          It can be tricky to find, since it's in the backside of a shopping plaza @ Sheppard/Midland. They make a pretty decent bird's nest (or did they call theirs Phoenix's nest?).

                          Maple Yip Seafood Restaurant
                          4227 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M1S5H5, CA

                          1. re: Royaljelly

                            Thanks for the info. I will definitely go this weekend. It sounds like it is on the southeast corner where there is a food court.

                            I will definitely try the bird's nest. My kids love those.

                        2. re: Royaljelly

                          Royal Jelly,
                          we're heading up to O Mei for Operation Lobster 4 Ways. One of our Other than the Lobster 4 Ways, any recommendations from the chinese menu?

                          1. re: EarlyDrive

                            Here's a link for some more suggestions from other chowhounders for O-Mei dishes to try. I'm going with my parents soon...


                        3. With all due respect, I have to disagree with the opinions expressed here about Casa Imperial. My family visited once soon after the restaurant opened and was extremely disappointed. Recently we gave them another shot and although there was significant improvement since our last visit, we were still left unsatisfied.

                          Firstly, the staff seemed overwhelmed by the crowd and did not seem to have any perceivable system for seating patrons in a fair and orderly fashion. Secondly, and most importantly, the food: although ingredients used were definitely high in terms of quality and freshness, (for example, whole plump shrimps and sweet crunchy greens in dumplings), the execution was too often amiss for a restaurant at Casa Imperial's price point.

                          For instance, fried taro dumplings were crisp but excessively oily and slightly burnt. The skins of the steamed 'veggie dumplings' were overdone to the point of falling apart upon contact. The stir fried 'leen goh' and seven vegetable dish we ordered was tiny and could not come close to justifying a $9.00 price tag.

                          We won't return - but hey, to each his/her own!

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: Yum2MyTum

                            What is your favourite place for dim sum ? Yes, not all the items on Casa's menu are great, but I have to say LWH and Casa Imperial are the two closest in quality "overall" to HK 's top end dim sum, eventhough it is still not quite close.

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              How would you rate LTH? I went earlier today and found it excellent. I'd put it ahead of Casa Imperial.

                              1. re: Apprentice

                                Actually I mean LWH/LTH and Casa Imperial. Each one has items better than other, but I think LWH and LTH's dim sum are better in overall, but again, they are more expensive.

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  Yes price is a valid consideration - close to $100 tax and tip incl. for two. Granted we ordered a lot and some of the more expensive items.

                              2. re: skylineR33

                                I think I'd say that when it first opened, Grand Chinese Cuisine in the Doubletree Hilton in Mississauga was really quite amazing: creative, well-executed, and altogether quite exciting to have outside of HK. I've heard different things more recently, but I definitely had a delicious few meals there.

                                For reference's sake, skylineR33, what would you have recommended at Casa Imperial? Maybe I ordered all of the bad items off the menu, with my luck.

                                Grand Chinese Cuisine
                                Mississauga, ON

                                1. re: Yum2MyTum

                                  Hi, I love the dim sum at Grand Chinese Cuisine too, but of course, not all the dim sum items are good there, same with dinner. IMO, I think this is generally the case with chinese cuisine, at least I find this true in GTA, because there are so many items in the menu.

                                  I would recommend these at Casa for reference :

                                  You bring up a very good point, I have to agree sometime it is annoying to get a table in one of these dim sum place in the weekend, it is crazy sometimes...

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    Thanks skylineR33 for the link! I incidentally did not choose any of those dishes that you took pictures of. Maybe a future visit may be in order...

                                    I don't mind the craziness at all, generally, with respect to line ups, etc. The only reason I mentioned this w.r.t. Casa Imperial is because my family and I lined up for 2 hours and several similarly sized parties were seated ahead of us. We recognized that we did not have a reservation but some of the parties seated ahead did not appear to have a reservation either; luckily, one of us spoke up when we were the only ones left in the waiting area and yet another new entry was to be seated ahead of us. If he didn't, I fear that we would still be there now!

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      I went to Grand Chinese for dinner last month but was not impressed. I think they are the same owners as Dragan Dynasty. The stirfry fish was undercooked and the spicy crab was less than fresh. Although the restaurant was not packed, service was less than attentive for the price we were paying. Will not be going back again. When it comes to quality, my vote goes to Casa Imperial.

                                      1. re: caitlink

                                        Yes, that's why I only mention dim sum at Grand Chinese, I think dinner is so-so too. Dim sum is also not as good as when they first open, but still 'overall' great in GTA IMO.

                                        1. re: caitlink

                                          Likewise, I also do not have much to say for the dinner service at Grand. I have only said positive things about the dim sum which is a step above Dragon Dynasty, and Casa Imperial, IMHO.

                                  2. re: Yum2MyTum

                                    I took my parents to Casa Imperial today, hoping to impress them... unfortunately they were somewhat dissappointed.

                                    We tried the following dishes:

                                    1) Shark's fin and seafood wrap in soup - great broth, very light yet flavourful, lots of sharks fin (better be for $8 per small bowl). Shrimps were large and fresh, but the scallop was not. Comes in a beautiful serving bowl.

                                    2) Super Har Gow - big shrimp dumpling, very fresh but lacking a bit in flavour. I actually had a slightly better one last week at O-Mei dim sum.

                                    3) steamed BBQ pork bun w/ Abalone sauce - ordered this one for my son. First one I picked up literally fell apart in my chopsticks (stuck to the bottom). Very light and fluffy, just enough meat filling. Didn't really notice abalone flavour at all. Is it worth $4 though?

                                    4) Braised duck tongue and noodle Konnyaku in bean sauce (spicy) - my parents prefered the one in City Inn Chinese.

                                    5) Spareribs w/ preserved black bean - standard dish, but they added taro to it, and by the time you eat the bottom few pieces of meat you get the sensation that the dish has disintegrated. Not a good match at all (or overcooked?).

                                    6) Cuttlefish tentacle w/ salted spice - came out 1/2 burnt, some pieces were almost 1/2 inch thick and very tough to chew. Flavour was just ok.

                                    7) Deep fried taro dumpling - small bit sized, nice fluffy outer crunchy layer, but quite oily and my mom kept complaining there wasn't enough taro to it.

                                    8) Jumbo shrimp noodle wrap rolls w/ yellow chives - well done

                                    9) Black glutinous roll w/ mango & custard, topped with coconut shavings - also well done, very fresh mushy soft melt in your mouth texture.

                                    Final bill was $47 + tax. Overall, it still didn't win my parents over (they're both retired chefs). They kept harping about how the dimsum at both Lai Wah Heen and City Inn Chinese was better (and that was about 2 yrs ago when they were there last). This is my third time there and I'm still not blown away by the food (as I was by LWH).

                                    1. re: Royaljelly

                                      Hey Royaljelly, I went to Casa Victoria today for dim sum, it is the sister restaurant of Casa Imperial, just opened yesterday. It is a very elegrant and beautiful place in Toronto standard.

                                      The dim sum menu is the same as Casa Imperial. I found the quality is good, but not as good as the Casa Imperial before. I wonder if the opening of Casa Victoria has any impact on them ?!

                                      The Har Gow is not as tasty, same as the cuttlefish which is too big ! But I did have some good items at Casa Victoria today. The place is packed and super busy !!!

                                  3. I hate to a party pooper, but I just don't understand the hype about Lai Wai Heen. I find it very expensive, and yet every dish tastes to me like the chef sprinkled an enormous lot of "bland" on it. I think you can find much better in Markham or Richmond Hill (about a 20 minute drive north of downtown, if you're not going during rush hour). O-Mei and Ambassador on Hwy 7, just west of the 404. Or Magic Wok, just west of Kennedy on 14th Avenue. And for dim sum, I like the Ruby in Woodside Mall (McCowan and Finch in Scarborough) - huge selection off the trolleys (yea! I much prefer trolleys to filling out a sheet - you get the food faster, and you can keep eating until you're full), and much less expensive than most of the other places named.

                                    Oh, and avoid like the plague the "eat all you can" buffets - they are OK if you're taking a bunch of kids who want deep fried everything in red or yellow sweet sauce, and then an ice cream buffet for dessert, but for adults who like authentic Chinese, they are an exercise in futility. My 14-yr old daughter was mightily angry when she went to the "sushi" station, and found that there was no raw fish in anything!

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: KevinB

                                      Ruby is a good place for economical and cheap dim sum, good value but you must be kidding to compare with Casa Imperial, Grand Chinese or LWH/LTH. I can never relate it to high end high quality dim sum, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the word "best" (as OP is asking for "Top" class). It is a different class. Have you ever been to Casa or Grand Chinese for dim sum ?

                                      1. re: KevinB

                                        I went to Ruby with a group for lunch yesterday. They had the cart service dim sum, and everyone stuffed themselves stupid - particularly with bbq pork and pork buns.

                                        I ordered off the menu, and I was very impressed with their vegetarian dishes. Great selection with more unusual dishes. I had braised veggies with bamboo fungus, and steamed eggplant with garlic sauce. Both were fantastic - veggies perfectly cooked, not soggy - and abundant.