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Best Dim Sum in Chinatown?

voyageurdemonde Jul 16, 2008 11:38 AM

A co-worker is going to Toronto in three weeks and would like to have Dim Sum in Chinatown. What are your suggestions for the best authentic, clean, but not over priced place with cart service on a Thursday or Friday for lunch? Thanks!

  1. Wahooty Jul 16, 2008 12:04 PM

    Bright Pearl at Spadina & St. Andrew has carts, and is reasonably priced (more so after 1:30 when happy hour goes into effect). I'm not the best judge of authenticity, but it seems to go over pretty well with my Chinese friends, and it definitely has plenty of bustling atmosphere.
    If you're not wedded to carts, though, Kim Moon Bakery is an absolute steal - all of the basics, tasty, and incredibly cheap, although you do have to order off of a menu.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Wahooty
      grandgourmand Jul 16, 2008 12:20 PM

      Thanks for that Kim Moon tip. There's a place in Ottawa I go to whenever I'm there that serves the best Dim Sum, without carts, though.

      To the OP....check Sky Dragon. Top floor of a building at the SW corner of Spadina and Dundas. Big, lots of volume, and bright space.

      1. re: grandgourmand
        g
        garlicandwingnut Jul 21, 2008 02:42 PM

        I haven't been to Sky Dragon for quite a while and probably the 5 worst Dim Sum meals I have had have been there. With luck that has changed. Top chefs are in high demand and a great Dim Sum resto can become terrible over night if the chef gets lured away and of course vice versa.

      2. re: Wahooty
        Edith S Jul 16, 2008 01:34 PM

        I'd go to New Treasure on Dundas in the old Chinatown behind City Hall. Looks like a dump from the street — it's down some scary looking stairs — but its quite nice inside in a Charlie Chan movie sort-of way. Supposedly, they were the first dim sum place in town back in the 70s.

        Yes, the food's the same frozen salty stuff they all steam or deep-fry, but it's cheap and they're one of the few downtown with carts. Indifferent servers but they speak English.

        Show up just before noon or stand in line.

        1. re: Wahooty
          c
          cakesncookies Jul 18, 2008 02:38 PM

          I've always had terrible experiences at bright pearl. I haven't been there in 3 years, but went there lately and it was definitely the same.. not good. I would definitely go with rol san

        2. pinstripeprincess Jul 16, 2008 12:32 PM

          forestview forestview forestview.... on dundas just a couple blocks east of spadina. bright pearl and sky dragon pale in comparison.

          kim moon is of lower quality but made up quite easily by fast and cheap food. certain things are particularly good there like haw gow.

          10 Replies
          1. re: pinstripeprincess
            grandgourmand Jul 16, 2008 12:36 PM

            Is forestview in a red-ish building, up a flight of stairs, on the north side?

            If so, I had a brutal experience there. Gnarly siu mai, Har gow (sp?) filled with filler, and they insisted we order sweet & sour pork.

            If that's not the place, sorry for the confusion.

            1. re: grandgourmand
              pinstripeprincess Jul 16, 2008 07:30 PM

              this all sounds rather disappointing.

              i haven't been there for a very long time (dim sum just isn't part of my regular diet anymore) and may have found it a touch on the greasy side but not much more than most other places. if things are lukewarm that's certainly news to me but still a problem since it seems to be a recurring complaint so far. and as far as being forced sweet and sour pork, i've never even been offered even a second menu... and i'm blanking right now on what it looks like but it's on the north side and has the "clay" shingles to make it mimic an old chinese building.

              kim moon's been my cheap fix for the past while, i'll have to drop into forestview next time to see what's up.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess
                pinstripeprincess Jul 24, 2008 08:21 AM

                went again yesterday for lunch. no doubt that the happy hour is what definitely makes it but either way, it was good still!

                full review forthcoming with pictures... but overall, not greasier than any other place, cooked perfectly fine and dumplings/buns just BURSTING with shrimp and pork.

                still my top pick for the downtown area.

            2. re: pinstripeprincess
              Delish Jul 16, 2008 01:12 PM

              It's funny... I actually believe the opposite to be true.

              I find Forestview to be of lesser quality than Kim Moon. At Forestview I've had good to horrific experiences. I was most recently there 2 weekends ago and I honestly have no need to return. Most of the cart offerings were lukewarm at best, and not nearly as tasty as they should have been. On the other hand, at Kim Moon, with the exception of getting steamed bun that was semi-frozen in the middle, everything has always been hot and delicious. And ridiculously cheap. It's my top pick these days.

              1. re: Delish
                deelicious Jul 30, 2008 05:32 AM

                I have only had terrible dim sum at forestview. Tried it twice and will never go back!

              2. re: pinstripeprincess
                Food Tourist Jul 16, 2008 02:16 PM

                I found Forestview greasy and fairly average. Maybe I should give it a second chance. Rol San is my fave in that district so far. Not above average, but still more enjoyable. Mothers Dumplings is also a good dim sum equivalent (but with much less variety).

                1. re: pinstripeprincess
                  n
                  neighborguy Jul 20, 2008 06:05 PM

                  pinstripeprincess, I totally agree with you on forestview. I really liked the food, the carts, the room, it was not expensive and general hustle and bustle of the place. There was a strong nostalgic sense to the place which reminded me of going out to family meals back in the day.

                  A few weeks back we were at bright pearl and while the food was okay, the overall impression I got was that the place is kinda pedestrian, if not consistent. Then up to sky dragon (we have been doing dimsum a lot lately) for the first time, after all the positive reports here, and I totally didn't get what the fuss has been about. Rubbery har gao and sui mai did the place in. Bleh!!! Not expensive, but in this case it was you get what you pays for. It's a great room but the drawback to having all that light is that the place has to be kept very clean.

                  I will try kim moon.

                  Tho they don't do the cart thing, I think the best dim sum in Chinatown right now is Rol San.

                  1. re: neighborguy
                    g
                    garlicandwingnut Jul 21, 2008 02:35 PM

                    I rather like the Forestview despite the fact that I have yet to see the alleged forest. It is above the HKS Bank.
                    Among other things it is very inexpensive on weekdays.
                    I think most people prefer carts so they can see the items offered the downside being that food on carts usually goes round the room until it is sold so it can get lukewarm or worse. If you see a cart with bamboo steamers stacked 6-8 high you can bet it just came out of the kitchen and is likely quite hot. Anything in a covered steamer will retain its heat much longer than something on a plate.
                    If you see a cart with many (6-12) different items each on little plates (normally fried stuff) you can generally assume it is a consolidation of things that have been around the room too many times and probably not too warm. When in doubt I hold my hand a few inches above the food to guage heat.

                    1. re: neighborguy
                      deelicious Jul 30, 2008 05:36 AM

                      Frestview has great nostalgic value, agreed. If that is what you are after, I suggest you go there, order tea, soak up the surroundings and then go to Rol San to eat.

                    2. re: pinstripeprincess
                      n
                      neighborguy Aug 10, 2008 03:35 PM

                      Kim Moon was good -- while the har gow and sui mai were not exemplary iterations they were served quickly and were hot and the rest of our steamers/dishes arrived nicely spaced apart.

                      The room was not crazy busy/loud, but there was plenty enough of people watching available.

                      I would go back.

                    3. mrbozo Jul 16, 2008 01:38 PM

                      No carts. Off the menu selection. But Rol San is fairly reliable.

                      I was helping a friend reorganize a computer lab at U of T this past Saturday morning. We started and finished early and so walked down to Rol San for dim sum. We arrived at 11 (they open at 9:30) and so beat the rush of mostly Chinese families stopping in for a nosh.

                      Our food (and we gorged ourselves) was generally excellent in terms of flavour, freshness and quality. Standouts were the ubiquitous siu mai and har gow (so good we had two orders of each). The beef tripe was succulent and tender. The fried minced pork dumpling and the fried shrimp and chive dumpling were tasty though they were a tad oily. The minced chicken and mushroom wrapped in rice noodle was melt in your mouth. The two squid dishes were rubbery (indicative of undercooking): the battered, fried tentacles were being ordered by all and sundry; the squid in anchovy, scallion and ginger also squeaked, but less so.

                      All in all an affordable and filling meal. Surroundings were clean. Due to the popularity of the place we were served by three people all told: service was efficient, prompt and accurate with delivery (one server - an older woman - recommended the shrimp/chive fried dumpling and steered us right).

                      If you go arrive before noon, otherwise you may well have to wait.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: mrbozo
                        JonasBrand Jul 16, 2008 05:13 PM

                        Rol San is the best I have found in Toronto. It is a checklist, so no cart. But it very fresh, tasty, and clean. This is your best bet!

                        1. re: JonasBrand
                          k
                          KitchenVoodoo Jul 16, 2008 07:41 PM

                          Agree about Rol San. It's the best. Was introduced to me by a Chinese colleague who loves his food. Never been disappointed by this place. The fried offerings are fresh, not greasy, so indulge!

                          1. re: KitchenVoodoo
                            c
                            childofthestorm Jul 16, 2008 07:48 PM

                            I would also agree with Rol San, although as a backup when Rol San is packed I also like the place that used to be Rainbow, not sure what it's called now but I went back and it was pretty much exactly the same. On Dundas just west of Spadina, north side.

                        2. re: mrbozo
                          m
                          MeMeMe Jul 30, 2008 10:41 AM

                          Yes - Rol San has pretty good food - however, I felt like i was in a restaurant twilight zone. The service was rushed, the atmosphere wasn't great - and there was an enormous line out the door. For Chinatown, I've usually had good experiences at Bright Pearl. Pearl Harbourfront and Dynasty are my choices for excellent higher end Dim Sum without going into Lai Wah Heen territory.

                        3. p
                          Paula from Toronto Jul 17, 2008 08:09 AM

                          While not in Chinatown, The Pearl at Harbourfront offers quite good dim sum. However, it is a little pricier than some of the Chinatown locales. Good views of the Lake though.

                          1. voyageurdemonde Jul 18, 2008 10:29 AM

                            Thank you all for your responses. You all are awesome!!

                            1. m
                              miranda Jul 18, 2008 03:52 PM

                              Asian Legend on Dundas just east of Spadina is my choice....Miranda

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: miranda
                                grandgourmand Jul 19, 2008 09:21 AM

                                Asian Legend for Dim Sum? It's a bit higher end, no? Just curious.

                                1. re: grandgourmand
                                  Teep Jul 19, 2008 11:55 AM

                                  Technically, Asian Legend is Northern Chinese, they would not serve what is called in English "dim sum", which usually refers to the Southern Chinese versions of the steamed and fried dumplings (har gau etc.) "Dim sum" is the Cantonese pronunciation of this term, which means "snacks"; in Mandarin it will be more like "dien hseeng". Asian Legend serves not har gao but xiao long bao etc. which falls into the "dien hseeng" category.

                                  1. re: Teep
                                    mrbozo Jul 19, 2008 12:46 PM

                                    Any other establishments in downtown Chinatown serving satisfactory dien hseeng?

                                    1. re: mrbozo
                                      Teep Jul 20, 2008 12:52 PM

                                      Just refer to all the dumpling discussions, like Mothers.

                                      1. re: Teep
                                        mrbozo Jul 20, 2008 01:51 PM

                                        Ah. OK, I do like Mother's Dumplings and Chinese Traditional Buns. Thanks for the clarification.

                              2. happycamper Jul 24, 2008 11:09 AM

                                BF brought me to this really old school dim sum place on Dundas W and Spadina, but it's on the south side. I forgot the name of place, but it's right on top of the starbucks on Dundas (3rd floor).
                                It's really inexpensive (It has one of those early bird special so that anything before noon is $2 or so). The crowd is definitely "old chinatown" but I think the food is better than Bright Pearl (inferior to Rol San).

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: happycamper
                                  f
                                  foodsnobz Aug 7, 2008 10:43 AM

                                  We tried Bright Pearl last Sunday. It was not busy probably due to the long weekend. The dim sum was good, not great but good. Their hot sauce was not good at all. I would try Rol San next time....or go to Vancouver!

                                  1. re: foodsnobz
                                    Chocaholic Aug 18, 2008 06:33 PM

                                    I prefer Rol San to Bright Pearl. And me too I like the har gow from Kim Moon.

                                    I have yet to try Asian Legend. But will definitely go next time.

                                    What other foods are good at the Dundas/Spadina chinatown?

                                2. n
                                  neighborguy Aug 25, 2008 12:17 PM

                                  This is a recent discussion:

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539361

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: neighborguy
                                    grandgourmand Aug 26, 2008 05:28 AM

                                    Dude, you linked to this exact same post. Long day?

                                    1. re: grandgourmand
                                      n
                                      neighborguy Aug 27, 2008 07:33 PM

                                      Not bad for someone who also sends blank email, or missing attachments;)

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