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Swatow and the Bright Pearl- what's all the fuss about?

I've been to both of these restaurants recently with people who claim that each restaurant is the best of its kind. On Chowhound, people seem to love both places as well.

Okay, here's the thing: I found both to be pretty mediocre and don't get what all the fuss is about...

Swatow: I think their food is not much better than you get at a food court. All the dishes looked the same. I think that they have large vats of oily chicken, beef, vegetables in the kitchen and then when you order they just mix and match with sauces that come from a packet. What do other people think?

Bright Pearl: I couldn't eat half the food that came to our table. The pork tasted as though it came from a can, the deep fried egg rolls from the frozen food aisle. I can't remember all the dishes that we ordered (we were 9) but there were only a couple of things that I could stomach. There were a couple of dumplings with shrimp that were edible, but nothing to write home about. I hope to never go back there.

What am I missing? I've been to China and I'm not a fussy eater. I must be ordering wrong. Why do people love these restaurants so much?

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  1. From what I have read from commentors recently is that they DON'T like these restaurants much.

    I am quite happy with China Gourmet in my neck of the woods (Cabbagetown). Great service with the 98 year old Grandma in the kitchen farting and cooking away!

    1. Yeah you need to read this board a little more closely. Neither of these places get a lot of love.

      1. You will find that almost all the restaurants discussed on this board will elicit a wide range of opinions....these two are no exceptions My sense is that Swatow has more fans than Bright Pearl, but that's a gross generalization. What's one person's heaven, is another's hell...just the way it is. I would be interested in knowing what places you rate highly and enjoy for example. Dollars to doughnuts that someone will disagree with you...

        1. Let me help you out! Swatow is only good for the noodles with broth. Everything else is slightly better than a food court. Try their eggnoodle broth with Shrimp dumplings next time you go.

          1 Reply
          1. re: lolo

            I have a friend, formerly of Toronto, who has resided in Finland for about 5 years now. Every time he comes to town he insists Swatow be the first place he visits. We go, he orders some noodle dish that isn't on the menu, we all enjoy. Cheap and cheerful is definitely a good way to relax with a gang of friends who haven't seen each other for a while. Now if only service wasn't so darn fast.

          2. Swatow is great for wonton and other noodles. Their 'pan fried beef rice noodles' dish is one of the better ones I've tasted.... the rest of the stuff is average.

            Deep fried egg rolls at Bright Pearl? If you're eating North Americanized Chinese food then I can't imagine you've had anything better in China...

            Dim Sum restaurants are hit and miss depending on when you go... they tend to be better when there is less of a crowd in the place as the crowd leads to more volume being pumped out of the kitchen which leads to under or over cooked dishes (especially those that need to be steamed)

            1. I'm one of the big Swatow fans. It is great for simple congee, noodles and rice dishes. Compared to other places in the Spadina/Dundas area it is the best for simple fast Chinese food. Greasy, but not too greasy. Now, compared to Markham/Richmond Hill chinese food to would run in the middle of the pack.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cookiebaker

                Have to say Swatow's dumpling soup, special fried noodles and pan fried pork dumplings are all great dishes. Everything else I've tried is just average.

              2. Swatow is OK, but I find way better quality north of the city. As you all know, there is a huge chineese population around the pacific mall, midland-finch area (anywhere north of Finch), and there I've found many restaurants that all have turned out to be better than Swatow.

                I'm not saying it's bad - but for the same money or less, if you go north you can find better.

                1. I have seen Susur a couple of times at Swatow...but personally i find it no different from King Noodles/Goldstone.......decent food but nothing to rave about.....