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Sep 9, 2008 11:55 AM

Top Notch Chinese Food in the GTA

Hey everyone,

I will be visiting the Toronto area in the next 2 weeks and I wanted to see if I could get any suggestions for Chinese restaurants? I'm basically looking for any recommendations for authentic food. Price is not an issue as long as it's good...... and hole in the walls are also not an issue as long as the food is good!


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  1. Are you looking for dim sum, or dinner-style? Also, what areas would you likely be in?

    For dim sum, I would recommend Grand Chinese Cuisine (near airport) and Lai Wah Heen (DT) if money is no issue. Personally, I lean towards Grand because I find it similar to LWH in taste, with a larger variety, and about 20% cheaper (pay cash - you get a coupon for next time use - could be useless for you though, since you are from out of town).

    Hole in the wall for authentic dinner style that is cheap? Fantasy restaurant at Midland and Finch. Another good dinner place that I personally have never had a problem with - Ruby Chinese resto at Finch and McCowan (don't have their dim sum, and since you're just visiting, doubt banquets would come into play). Not so much a hole in the wall, but its a giant restaurant with tacky chandeliers and lots of locals.

    Cheers and Happy Eating!

    16 Replies
    1. re: BokChoi


      I will be staying near the airport but I will have a car so anywhere in the GTA is okay. I've eaten at many great chinese places in Vancouver and I heard great things about LWH. But I think I will also try Grand

      I'm looking for Dim Sum and Supper, any suggestions are welcomed!

      1. re: bobthebuilder

        Ahh.. could be dangerous if you have eaten in Vancouver! Especially when it comes to seafood. Also the tofu dishes. I have had many glorious meals in Vancouver and unfortunately, have yet to find a dinner place to match it. The one strength of Toronto Chinese food is that they are very cheap. There are a few gems around, but most of it is fantastic - for the price.

        Whatever you do, do not go to the hot pot places around Toronto - they are not what you would have come to expect in Vancouver. On a good day, Ruby is the closest I have come to finding a dinner restaurant that is on par with some better restaurants in HK - if you order correctly (an unfortunate problem with most restaurants). Don't go on a Thursday would be my inside tip. (Don't touch their dim sum though)

        Please note that Grand and LWH are famous for their dim sum, and not for their regular dinner meals. Grand is conveniently located near you, and I make the trek out there weekly to get my dim sum fill, so it gets my vote. Both are excellent to sample.


        1. re: BokChoi

          Not sure what your standard is, but Ruby is definitely not what I would use to compare to some of the what I consider better dining places in HK, not in the same level, it is average only for cantonese food.

          Omei 4-way lobster is great for seafood. High end cantonese food can be found at Lai Wah Heen, Lai Toh Heen and Casa Victoria. For more economical, Tanchikee, Fantasy Eatery, Hong Kong Bay are good.

          1. re: skylineR33

            Hey Skyline, where's HK Bay? I haven't come across that one yet. Are they along the same cooking styles as tanchikee and Fantasy?

            1. re: Royaljelly

              Hi Royaljelly, yes, it is similar to tancikee and Fantasy.

              Scarborough Hong Kong Bay Seafood

              2598 Birchmount Road
              Scarborough, ON M1T 2M5
              (416) 299-9898

              1. re: jennjen18

                Tanchikee is located at 360 Hwy 7 E, richmond hill.

                It is in the same plaza of A Taste of Shanghai - 小南國.

            2. re: BokChoi

              Lai Toh Heen is closer than Ruby and the food,service and ambience is better and more refined! Ruby's food is OK but surely cannot be catagoriized as 'top notch'!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Have not had a chance to make it to Lai Toh Heen - I live in the Ruby area so it has been a family favourite for many years. I merely compare it to HK because on my most recent trip to HK (went to the award winning restaurants per the HK tourism guide + local family recs - though I am sure some HK tourism recs were tourist traps as some of their gold medal dishes were astronomical in price, yet unfriendly to the palate.), I was a bit disappointed when I searched and searched and could only find something similar to what I could find at Ruby's (on a good day and with the right dishes - an assortment of go-to dishes I have refined due to dining there for over 15 odd years. I should make a post of the photos and menu that I rely on in order to help other CHers if they visit there - I will try to get the official names. Since I go there so often, I hardly take my camera). I find many restaurants are very average if you just order haphazardly off their menu.

                Don't worry, I posted Ruby knowing that I would get this in response. It is a very unconventional suggestion. Just thought I would toss in something other than the regulars. I just like expanding the repertoire that CH tends to recommend ('safe recs'). No value-add as they could just search the other posts.

                I looked at the Lai Toh Heen menu and it appeared very North American in influence. Any suggestions on dishes to try?

                Always meant to head to O'Mei, but friends and family have recommended against it (I had suggested O'Mei to them from the posts on CH many years ago, but could not go as I was out of town). Should probably try it for myself as it has been on my list for years. Lobster would be one choice of course, any other 'must haves'?

                1. re: BokChoi

                  "I searched and searched and could only find something similar to what I could find at Ruby's" - it is a pity.

                  You should have a serious consultation with Charles Yu next time you visit HK.

                  FYI, Omei has changed hand quite a few times.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    OK I will keep that in mind. Thought I could rely on the 'award winning' dishes, but alas, I was wrong. And once there, I did not have access to any other sources. Mind you, I did have a few mindblowing dishes while I was there, but on average, I was not too excited.

                    Note to the others, the annual culinary awards are not necessarily as reliable as they state: - I spent a small fortune going down the list and was disappointed time and time again. A few were excellent though, but the prices matched the 'prize winning' status.


                2. re: Charles Yu

                  Okay, it's good to know that LWH and Grand are famous for dim sum, I will definately go there for lunch rather then dinner. It seems like Lai Toh Heen and O'mei are brought up quite often here. Are these more dinner places?? From reading on the sites, i see that LWH and LTH are from the same group..... so does one just specialize more in dinner?

                  Thanks for all the suggestions out there.... I'm really excited to see what TO has to offer!

                  1. re: bobthebuilder

                    Lai Toh Heen also offers a take on dim sum, though not as traditional. From the menu, they appear more 'modern'. O'mei is a dinner place as well. I have had a dinner dish at LWH that was quite nice - the Lobster with vermicelli. But my dining companions did not like it.
                    Here is a photo (Note: I like vermicelli, having just come back from HK at the time, it brought back fond memories. And I like broth):

                    With Chinese restaurants there are generally two chefs - a dim sum/pastry chef, and a dinner chef. That is why the two offerings are often so divergent in quality.

                    Some LWH older dim sum photos:




                    Cheers! Hopefully the others can tell you more about LTH and O'mei.

                3. re: BokChoi

                  Bahaha, it's only occurred to me that Grand is in the same family as Dragon Dynasty. Hmm.. So, I live on the end of the city near Dragon, should I still make the trek to Grand to see what it's all about?

                  1. re: jennjen18

                    Not sure its worth the trip, especially at dinner, but Grand and Dynasty are operated differently despite the common ownership....btw, throw Big Mouth Kee into the same ownership umbrella. Dim Sum Lunch at Grand has a better rep than it's dinners.

                    1. re: jennjen18

                      Hey jennjen18

                      I know you've checked out my post already:

                      But I wanted to respond to the question of whether or not it is worth the drive. IMO, it is very much so worth it.


              2. Take a cab to Highway 7 and Leslie. Get out and walk either west or south; it doesn't matter. If you want "luxe" treatment, Ambassador or O-Mei will fit you perfectly. As for "holes in the wall" - there are many, and I've yet to be disappointed.

                1. To be specific about dim sum....

                  I really recommend the Casa family (Casa Imperial, Casa Victoria, and Full House). All very good dim sum, with their seafood soup dumpling a must order. Just look at the crowds that gather, the wait times are excruciating if you attempt it on a weekend.

                  Lai wah heen is great, but you'd be hard pressed to find most normal Chinese people go there. Maybe only the younger Chinese people, Chinese people over 40 generally scoff at the prices they're charging. I've had great dim sum there ($50 per person if you order the specialities). It's equal to the quality of HK hotel dim sum (a lot of high end dim sum places in HK are in the bourgie hotels). This place gets talked about a lot on here because it's downtown and accessible for tourists or for downtowners that scoff at anything north of Eglington.

                  Empire Court in the HIlton on Hwy 7 & Warden, again expensive but very good.

                  I haven't been to the airport spot, people seem to speak highly of it.

                  Then the ones that are just plain good but not trying anything fancy smancy. These are literally everywhere in the Chinese burbs and also well worth your time. Places like Golden Court are a perfect example of this.

                  Another tip, calling for reservations at some places do not guarantee you a table at arrival. It means you're merely bumped to the head of the wait list. Then again, 6 other people might've also reserved and they've also been bumped to the head of the list, your mileage may vary. This is especially true for dim sum reservations.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: aser

                    Bring lots of cash, since a lot of the smaller joints do not take credit cards. Also be prepared for some parking lot rage, as fighting for spots can be brutal (especially in the busy malls, eg. anything on Hwy 7 during peak hours).

                    1. re: Royaljelly

                      You say O'Mei has changed hands many times.

                      Is Ringo only the Manager of O'mei?

                      He has been there from day 1 I believe and still is...I thought he was one of the owners.

                      We have been going there on and off since it first opened, we started first on Sheppard Ave., then went on to Highway 7 where we recently celebrated our 50th Anniversary and had a lovely dinner with our family and friends...

                      1. re: bobinken

                        Ringo is the manager of Omei now. I was there like more than like 15 years ago and it is not like that. And obviously the quality is better in these few years.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Was Ringo originally the owner and he sold out or were there originally a group of owners including Ringo as one of them?

                          I do like the food better now...we go exclusuvely to the Highway 7 location now because they serve authentic Chinese food as well as their old us a choice of both although we enjoy the authentic type the best.

                          1. re: bobinken

                            Has anyone ever tried O Mei on Steeles (west of Yonge, near the Toys R Us)... is it anywhere near as good as the Hwy 7 location?

                            1. re: Royaljelly

                              We haven't been to that location in a few years and only went once for the all you can eat menu. (no buffet table)..They served it a few dishes at a time to your table.... you could order off the menu too. At that time they only served their regular old menu....nothing like the one on Highway authetic Chinese....don't know if they have authentic now.

                    2. re: aser

                      Do you know what Casa Victoria is like for dinner? I need to chose a "nice" Chinese restaurant for a group dinner and was told that Casa Victoria was a good choice. I have never tried the food there and wanted to make sure it was authentic yet not too adventurous for some of the non-Chinese members of our group.

                    3. Szechuan Legend is authentic and delicious. Worth a visit.

                      Szechuan Legend
                      3280 Midland Ave, Toronto, ON M1V, CA

                      1. I really LOVED Spring Villa when I was there about a year ago in the Markham area. Just very authentic and heart-warming. everything dim sum should be. Lai Wah Heen on the other hand just really fell apart with its quiet, cold, formal structure. the tea-washing was great. but my foie tart that taste nothing of foie...the roast pork pie inside essentially an almond cookie and the mozzarella turnip cake ...all failed to impress. the rest, simply forgettable.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: bou

                          Trailed along family members and ate at Spring Villa twice in the past month. ( sister in law knows the captain ). Found the food mediocre at best. Charged us an arm and a leg for the Crispy chicken which they claimed to be free range but mushiness texture of the meat reflects otherwise. Also, had the sharksfin with pumpkin broth ( which they claimed to be delicious and unique ). Unique alright! 'cause it tasted nothing like sharksfin,with the pumpkin masking everything. What a waste to the fin and what a rip off. Most other dishes were on the bland side. Nothing to write about! Like the term used by you bou, 'simply forgettable'!!