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Sea Hi Famous Chinese Restaurant

abscissa May 12, 2008 06:00 PM

Does anyone know anything about this place? Eaten there etc.?

All I know is it's been around a very long time... I think I ate there once over 20 years ago (I remember nothing). I am also pretty sure they serve (only?) kosher food.

So it's more than 50 years at the same location and never once updated the decor??

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Hi_F...

  1. hippotatomus May 12, 2008 06:08 PM

    Bump. I'm curious too.. used to drive by there all the time but never visited... thoughts?

    1. Leslieville May 12, 2008 06:22 PM

      I think that information is inaccurate, it has not been at that location since the fifties. It was first on Dundas, west of Bay in the original Chinatown. It was closer to the mid 70s when it moved to the present location. And no it does not serve Kosher food. It would only be able to serve chicken beef and vegetables, since most of the ingredients used in Chinese cooking would be forbidden. My recollecton of the food was very mediocre westernized dishes. There are previous threads on C.H. if you do a search.

      1. b
        Ben Reiner May 12, 2008 06:26 PM

        Something eerie about Sea Hi and its longevity. I probably haven't had anything from there in close to 10 years, myself. But it most certainly is not kosher.

        Two dishes I recall are won ton soup and and a dish with chicken wrapped with bacon. I always loved the won ton soup. There was a platter of some sort my parents used to get as well which was tasty. Just bear in mind that this is not authentic Chinese food by any stretch- it's very much American Chinese food circa 1950.

        The other notable thing with Sea Hi is that it's huge inside and yet whenever we did eat there, it was virtually empty. I don't know if anything has changed in the last 10 years but somehow I doubt it.

        1. e
          embee May 12, 2008 06:56 PM

          I ate at Sea Hi when I first moved to Toronto, which was in 1970. My impression was that they had been at the same location for a long time way back then. (Leslieville, are you sure you aren't thinking of Lichee Garden?)

          The food was never real Chinese food and was never kosher, though the clientele was virtually 100% Jewish, at least during the seventies. It certainly is eerie -- it was always empty in the seventies as well. They may have been busy on Sunday nights, the traditional time for otherwise kosher Jews to, using some mental calisthenics I never understood, somehow rationalize eating Chinese.

          I can't remember the last time I ate there, but I did look inside in the relatively recent past. Everything looked as I remembered it and, yes, it was almost empty.

          2 Replies
          1. re: embee
            Leslieville May 13, 2008 03:46 PM

            Okay I am willing to concede I am partially wrong! The confusion occured because there was a Sea Hi Restaurant on Dundas Sreet. When it closed in the late 70's I assumed that was when it moved to Bathurst street. I am not confusing it with Sai Woo or Leechee Gardens. It was on the South side of Dundas further along, Not as close to Bay street as the other two, and not as fancy as the others. PearlD. mentions it in a previous thread from last year that Embee was included in. Strangely enough, ChefD.B.com has it listed on Dundas, but with no further info about it. I only ate at the Bathurst location once about 15 years ago when I was dragged there by friends and it was less than memorable! How it is still there I have no idea, particularly since it's client base has mostly moved to Thornhill, and the neighbourhood has become progressively more Orthadox which it certainly wasn't in the beginning. I am hoping that PearlD. will join in on this thread to confirm her memories!!!(and vindicate mine somewhat!)

            1. re: Leslieville
              p
              pearlD Sep 24, 2008 05:00 PM

              I don't remember the previous Sea Hi thread but I believe that you are right Leslieville...I am almost certain it was on Dundas Street (West of Bay )before it moved 'up north'(that's what we used to call anything north of Eglinton..my how times have changed!) to Bathurst Street...one of the 'famous waiters' not sure but perhaps he was an owner, was "Danny" who went on to be a 'partner' in "Sam the Chinese Food Man" on Yonge Street. Back to Sea Hi... I have no idea how it stays in business since that area is pretty much 'Orthodox" at this point...it always had a strong Jewish presence ...I spent my Primary & High School days around Bathurst & Eglinton...I think my family ate at the (Bathurst Street location) Sea Hi only once and certainly as an adult I've never been back...we always went to "Chinatown"...at that time ate Cantonese style...the Nanking or more rarely Lichee Gardens, the very famous #12 Elizabeth Street or a place called "Hop Sing" which was on Dundas as well but decidely 'downscale' compared to the other .....then.....Paul's Deep Sea opened and the rest is history...opened the door to the many different styles of Chinese cuisine that can be found ALL over Toronto....we are indeed lucky to have so many choices in our City and Suburbs...

          2. abscissa May 12, 2008 07:14 PM

            Wow... that is really really strange... they aren't kosher but they are in the heart of Toronto's Jewish orthodox? and they have been in business longer than any other restaurant in the neighborhood that i can remember... but always empty??

            1 Reply
            1. re: abscissa
              domesticgodess May 12, 2008 07:35 PM

              i have been driving by that restaurant for 20 years now...and it always seems empty. I take it, they own the building and are waiting for the right offer and presto another condo will go up. Its definetely not kosher....and I have never met anyone who goes there.

            2. Rudiger May 12, 2008 07:49 PM

              While I haven't been in maybe a year, I used to frequent Sea Hi once every few months.

              Sea Hi is definately one of the better Chinese restaurants in the city. Everything there is above average, with a few dishes that stand out. As mentioned, their chicken sticks wrapped in bacon are quite wonderful. They also have an excellent plum sauce and these crispy noodles that you get with every order, which one can't help but devour. I've also always been a fan of their shanghai noodles, vegtable fried rice (lots of onion!) and hot and sour soup.

              It's worth the trip. They have always been fairly consistent through the years.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Rudiger
                Kagemusha May 12, 2008 08:04 PM

                Consistent, yes. Good, no. Ate there years ago when it was even then a time warp experience.Styling it "one of the better Chinese restaurants in the city" suggests clinical-level irony or pathological ignorance of what else the GTA offers.

                1. re: Kagemusha
                  k
                  katana750 May 12, 2008 09:21 PM

                  I agree with Kagemusha, I've been going there for 30 years on and off. Taste hasn't changed at all. Consisent . How ever, I don't think it's above average. The plum sauce is out of a package, as are the other condiments.Apparently it is family owned. I asked several months ago because I was wondering the samething everybody was. Ha Ha.
                  Sometimes they're busy during lunch. Probably for the lunch special.The take-out and delivery seems to be busy all the time. What I noticed sometime ago was that they now have non-Chinese working there. Something I hadn't seen at Sea-Hi before.

              2. s
                suzieqwastaken May 12, 2008 08:49 PM

                I was just there a few weeks ago. Food is okay, but very American-Style...definitely not authetic Chinese. It is absolutely NOT kosher...they have a wide array of pork dishes. ... And you all are correct....as of a few weeks ago, the place was still empty. It's huge inside, but you'll rarely find more that three or four tables occupied.

                1. p
                  Pincus May 13, 2008 09:49 AM

                  This restaurant is like stepping into a time machine. Decor and food matching the popular trends of decades ago. I had some noodles and chicken balls there last January, about what I expected, Westernized "Chinese" food, not awful, not great. Again, very empty and yes, the take-out did seem to be getting the bulk of the action.

                  1. m
                    Mushka May 13, 2008 10:52 AM

                    I grew up in the area and remember going to Sea Hi, at least in the 1960's so it has been around for awhile. It may not be a Chowhound kind of place but it doesn't try to be anything but what it is. It is traditional Western style chinese food, heavy on the frying. I went as a child and about 5 years ago went back for my brother's birthday. Indeed, it was like stepping into a time machine. The same Buddha in the lobby, the same tuquoise decor and probably the same candy at the checkout. We now go once a year as a family outing. If you know what to expect the food is not bad at all. They have Vancouver ribs, long and meaty and the chicken on a stick (bacon wrapped chicken) is very tasty. There is also the usual deep fried shrimp, scallops and chicken balls. The Cantonese Chow Mein is also good. The takeout probably keeps the place running and they are indeed probably waiting for a good offer. And no, it is definitely NOT kosher.

                    1. a
                      alfie May 13, 2008 03:49 PM

                      Its funny-it seems that there are two of these places-China House on Eglington is almost the exact same place-old school North American Chinese food in a dated large space. Both serving the same type of food for many years in jewish neighbourhoods.When I came to toronto several years ago I was struck by the similarity even then

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: alfie
                        e
                        embee May 13, 2008 07:28 PM

                        While Sea Hi and China House do seem eerily similar in many ways, this wasn't totally true in the early seventies. China House was, at one time, possibly the best REAL Chinese restaurant in Toronto. There was an extreme split personality about that place. I've got a post about China House in that era at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358709 that you might enjoy.

                        1. re: embee
                          a
                          alfie May 14, 2008 05:31 AM

                          I remember reading your post. I found it very interesting. It is hard to believe that China House could be anything else but what it is now.But on occasion when I am walking by on a weekend during the afternoons I see large gatherings of Chinese people coming out of the restaurant presumably after some sort of function in a party room. I would imagine that they are not eating all the standard deep fried stuff that my kids love

                      2. s
                        simonetai Sep 24, 2008 02:32 PM

                        For many years I drove past this resto with the fabulous neon sign. Being Chinese, I love to try Chinese restos but a friend who lives in that area and sometimes goes there because his friends/family insist on it - he told me it was BAD! I didn't believe him. Then one aft, I dropped in to see for myself....the resto has not been changed in 50 years --- retro can be nice but this was just tired and should be upgraded. The food ---- I wanted to puke. I'll never go back. and my friend was soooo right. Quite possibly the worst Chinese food I've ever had --- oh, that an food from Emerald Restaurant on Hurontario and Eglinton!!!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: simonetai
                          t
                          Toronto Fastfoodie Oct 3, 2010 02:38 PM

                          While it may always seem empty on the inside, the takeout is always rockin. In fact, on Sundays, the wait at the takeout counter could be up to 45 min. or more. Like others have said, the food may not be authentic Chinese, but it is good and fresh. The spingrolls are freshly made and all of the food is made fresh to order, to your specifications. For example, I always order chicken with the sauce they put on the dry garlic ribs even though it is not on the menu. If you go to the takeout counter, you can spot the chefs constantly chopping the fresh veggies in the back.

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