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Grand Chinese Cuisine – Amongst the finest dim sum restaurants in Toronto (lengthy review + pics)

BokChoi Sep 15, 2008 06:06 PM

I eventually had enough time to post a review about Grand Chinese Restaurant. I know it has been mentioned before on CH, but I thought my additional review would be a valuable addition to this forum. It took a long time to compile all my thoughts, reviews and photos over the year and a half since I happened upon this restaurant near the airport. The only reason I went was actually because I was dropping off my SO at the airport last spring, and I liked the look of the signage in-front of the restaurant (strange reasoning, but I am glad I stopped in for a bite).

Based on taste alone, I cannot believe that this place is ½ empty all the time. This may partially have to do with their poor location choice (out West) where there is a smaller Chinese community. However, even though I live in the east end of Scarborough, I have been going almost weekly to Grand for dim sum for over 1.5 years, and will continue to go there for many years to come, as long as their quality is maintained at the highest echelons of fine-dining dim-sum in the city.

Throughout my years in Toronto, I have been sorely disappointed in the dim sum offerings. Sure, Toronto dim sum is amongst the cheapest in North America, but as far as quality is concerned, there are few that have elevated themselves above mediocrity. Lai Wah Heen has been the one restaurant to have separated itself from the pack and has led the way in terms of nouveau Asian cuisine. Their dim sum is both imaginative, and tasty. But where else is one to turn if their pockets are not lined with gold?

That is where Grand fits the bill. I find that the prices at Grand are about 20-30% cheaper than LWH, but the quality is almost matching (and in some ways, surpasses). Each restaurant has their fortes, and I respect each dim sum chef for their specialty items. Both restaurants are special occasion dim sum places that do require you to dig in deep, but for $16 + tax/tip, one can be VERY satisfied with a luxurious dim sum meal at Grand. Each time I have dined there, the bill has come out to less than $20 a head, unless you go famished. If you pay cash, they will give you a coupon to use at a later visit ($2 for each $20 spent). As well, they also offer a ‘specials’ coupon such as a free “goon tong gow” (seafood dumpling in soup), or Tiger Prawn fried noodle ($9.99 for 4 large pieces of shrimp – minimum # of diners = 4) for use on your next visit.

Their teas are exceptional and very fragrant. Like LWH, they pride themselves in sourcing high quality teas. The teas do not possess the bitter aftertaste of some lesser teas, and many have a beautiful golden colour. Their Jasmine tea is amongst the best I have had in the city. As well, their “Teet Goon Yum” is another success.

Over the years, they have bestowed a bit of extra knowledge to me in passing, as the restaurant is almost always 1/2 empty (In its earlier days, I found my table to be one of only about 3 tables on the weekend during prime dim sum hours). I have had a kitchen tour (they have a BBQ centre right in the restaurant itself – though I found their suckling pig to be quite below par the one time I tried it) and I found the facilities immaculately kept (this is VERY comforting that the kitchen is operated like a first class restaurant and not like some of the back-alley kitchens I've seen in operation at some other the other lesser Chinese restaurants). They are affiliated to Big Mouth Kee (lower end Chinese restaurant), Dragon Dynasty (their medium range restaurant) and finally, Grand fills the shoes for their high-end offering. Their Master Dim Sum Chef even trained the dim sum chef for Casa Imperial for 6 months before he left to head up the kitchen there (in my opinion, the Casa chef should have stayed a bit longer to pick up some additional tips). Their largest client is none other than Cathay Pacific. They provide catering for the dim sum for first class passengers. If that doesn’t mean something to you, then I don’t know what will.

I can go on and on about the scrumptious dim sum dishes they offer. Some favourites of mine over the year include:

• Pan Fried Turnip Cake – delicate and beautifully presented. My must have dish each week
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Grouper Rice Noodle with Baby Snow Pea Leaves – the best rice noodle roll in the city (IMO). Tasty, sweet, and mild. Fish is never overcooked and is nicely flaky and firm to the bite.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Cod Baked Pastry in Thousand Layers – a favourite of many. Succulent fish morsels inside each soft shell that is never grease-laden. For those that are a fan of the Spring Villa eel version, this one (IMO) far surpasses it (however, I prefer savoury to sweet) – excellent pepper spicing
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Egg Tarts with Swallows Nest dusting – soft custard that is not super firm. Luxurious dusting of swallow’s nest – though I cannot say it adds to the taste of the dish.
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Sweet Roulade of water-chestnut and olive – a refreshing palate cleanser
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Chicken and Shitake Dumpling – a beautiful dumpling that has sharp herb flavours and excellent texture
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Vegetarian Dumpling – simple excellence
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Steamed Chicken with taro, king mushroom, and fish maw wrapped with bean curd – amazing each time. Excellent taro that adds a textural element to the wrap
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Seafood deep fried dumpling wrapped with corn-based crust served with consommé - an unexpected corn-sweetness. Light, even though fried.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Ducks’ tongue consommé jelly – amazing appetizer that I use as an amuse bouche to activate my saliva glands
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deep Fried Lobster rolls with a sweet, light yogurt dipping sauce (on my last visit, they altered this to mayo – I really hope this was a temporary change and that they simply ran out of strawberry yogurt)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Pumpkin with pork bun – amazing and sweet. Immaculate bun texture. Best bun in the city that I have so far discovered
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
closeup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Of course, they also have their classic dishes:
• Har Gow – fresh, large shrimp pieces
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Siu Mai – Very light and not oily, nor heavy with pork taste
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deluxe BBQ Pork bun (my favourite in the city and I generally do not like BBQ pork buns in general, but I will eat this one without hesitation) – it has large chunks of recognizable pork pieces and a mildly sweet sauce
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deep Fried Squid – consistency is key, and they have it covered. Crispy and light.
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deep fried dumpling with shrimp and pork (‘Ham soy Gok’) – hardly any oily residue
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
another: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deep Fried dumpling with pine nuts and duck – a variation of the ham soy gok. I prefer this version as it is lighter and more subtle in flavour
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Grand Egg Custard bun (“dan wong”)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Ice Cream (black sesame + deep fried pancake)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Ice Cream (ginger + deep fried dumpling)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Chicken feet with XO sauce
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Goon Tong Gow (Seafood Dumpling in Soup)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Deep fried egg custard bun
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Prawn rice roll (with corn)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Shrimp Spring Rolls
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Pan-Fried dumplings (“woh teep”) – tasty and excellent use of herbs
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Mushroom Rice Roll
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Unexpected finds include some imaginative dishes:
• Foie Gras deep fried dumpling (a touch oily for my tastes
)photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Fish-shaped fruit jello (a touch bland, but great to look at
)photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Mushroom Foo Jook Goon
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Grand Scallop Dumpling
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Discontinued items include:
• Grand flaky pastry (not sure if they have it still – best to ask
)photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Rabit-shaped Dumpling Sweets
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Assorted Dumpling
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Black Sesame Puffs
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

They also have a smattering of cooked dishes from their regular menu, some of which I have tried, but admittedly have returned to the dim sum menu because that is their forte. Their dinner menu used to be so much more varied and exciting, but they have had to tailor their dishes to more conservative clientele due to the lack of popularity of their more avant-garde offerings. I really hope once they take off that they will once again expand their menu and allow the chef to really show off his creativity and flourish. Right now, there is no point for me to drive 40 minutes to the West-end for something I can get much closer to home.
• Truffle fried rice – excellent dish, but I prefer the dim sum
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Spare-ribs in black bean sauce on soft rice noodles (dim sum dish, but prepared by the dinner kitchen team) – a tad bit oily for my tastes. First time I had it, I was blown away. Second time, not so much.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Sautéed fish on baby bok choi
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Crispy Chicken done two ways
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Lobster Dumplings
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Lobster Udon in broth
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Grand Mushroom Casserole
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Soup Selections
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Egg with tofu – silky smooth and so incredibly light in flavour. An excellent dish.
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Fried Tofu with Veggies
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Miscellaneous Fried Treasures
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

The Special offers include:
• $9.99 Giant Tiger Prawns on Fried Noodles (noodles were weak, but the shrimps were juicy, tasty and expertly cooked)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
single serving: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
• Free Seafood Dumpling in Soup (“goon tong gow”)
photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

Photos of the restaurant itself
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Menus (all menus in English as well as Chinese
)• http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
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Trust me, this restaurant is an amazing addition to the Toronto Chinese Dim Sum Culinary Scene. I can only hope that their dinner offerings can one day match their dim sum, but alas, it has recently been a disappointment for myself, family and friends. Our first dinner meal there was amazing. They particularly do their fried dishes excellently - very little trace of oil left on the items. Excellently spiced with very little reliance on salt. However, in spite of their missteps in relation to their dinner meals, I implore you all to give Grand Chinese Cuisine a try and see if you enjoy it. I really hope they make it in the high-end dim sum market, because if they did not, I do not know where I would have to go for my dim sum fix each week! Once again, I stake my reputation on this as amongst the finest dim sum restaurants in the city. For the price, the experience is amazing. Though I must warn, the tastes here are much more subtle than your typical dim sum restaurants, as they use minimal amounts of salt, oil, and sauces. Instead, they rely on usage of herbs and spices to flavour their dishes. They also refrain from utilizing MSG as they use the freshest and best ingredients that do not require the additive to enhance the flavour. All items are made to order, so no carts. If you have a refined palate, then this restaurant will surely stand out from the rest. If you, however, prefer copious amounts of value dim sum, then this would not be the recommendation for you. I have had some dim sum-eating friends that have told me that they do not really taste the difference in quality, though they do notice it is less oily and salty. But to each their own and I respect that. They are perfectly happy eating at a cheaper Chinese restaurant and all the better for them to be able to save the additional premium. I, however, have tried Grand and cannot go back. I do concede however that they had a moment of lapse in quality back in November/December of last year. I was told this was due to the fact that a number of kitchen staff had left and they were short men, thus requiring them to retrain new hires during the busy holiday season. I almost even stopped going as I definitely saw a slip in their performance. However, as of late, I have been nothing but impressed with their service and quality – though service has notably stumbled in the past year compared to their earlier days. They have their kitchen staff well trained again and I feel confident in my recommendation. This is partially why I have held off on such a thorough and glowing recommendation for so long. I wanted them to develop consistency in their performance before I put my reputation on the line. I hope they do not prove me wrong and make me eat my word.

So, if you have always felt that the dim sum was lacking in Toronto, then you should give Grand a try. If you have ever felt that you wanted to try LWH, but it’s a bit on the pricey side, then try Grand. If you like LWH and wanted a bit of variety, then give Grand a try.

The quality is matched only by LWH in the city, and is comparable to the better dim sum places in HK (though not at the top – but beggars cannot be choosers). But for this side of the Pacific and at these prices (never mind the cost savings of a plane ticket to HK), I will be most happy to settle for Grand Chinese Cuisine - one of the BEST dim sum places in T.O currently.

Go with an open mind, and an empty stomach and you will not be disappointed. I surely hope they will not slip in quality once they become a famous and popular establishment, nor raise their affordable prices. May they always be the affordable alternative to LWH.

Cheers and Happy Eating!

655 Dixon Road, Etobicoke, ON, M9W 1J3 - near the Toronto Pearson Airport (conveniently located for out of town diners – though not so much for the rest of us in Scarborough

)

Mon - Fri: 11am to 11pm; Sat - Sun: 10am-11pm

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  1. Food Tourist RE: BokChoi Sep 15, 2008 07:15 PM

    Holy Hannah, this may be a contender for longest and most comprehensive CH review EVER! I did go for dinner last late fall with my family and we quite liked it though it didn't wow us. The place was almost empty but service is excellent and atmosphere is quite elegant. This is a good reminder to go for dim sum! I love details, so will consult this carefully before going back. Good work, BokChoi! I think they even validate parking.

    1. a
      afici0nad0 RE: BokChoi Sep 15, 2008 09:29 PM

      excellent review. very comprehensive. i've added this restaurant to my "favorites" links.

      yes, other than lwh, i've had a hard time finding a higher end dim sum place that has the food to back up its atmosphere.

      22 Replies
      1. re: afici0nad0
        BokChoi RE: afici0nad0 Sep 16, 2008 03:55 AM

        Hope the review can be of some assistance, and glad you enjoyed reading the post, afici0nad0 and Food Tourist.

        Yes, they validate parking as well, good reminder - just bring in your parking pass to the restaurant and they stamp it.

        Cheers and happy eating!

        1. re: BokChoi
          Royaljelly RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 04:50 AM

          Awesome post bokchoi!

          Do you think this place might be good for us to host our baby's 100 day party? Last time we did our son's dinner at Full House, and while the food was good, we just weren't wowed by anything particular dish or service (and I even had a friend attend, who's uncle is the owner of the chain!).

          1. re: Royaljelly
            BokChoi RE: Royaljelly Sep 16, 2008 07:29 AM

            Hello RoyalJelly,

            Thanks for the kind words. I do know that Grand has some private rooms, but I find they might be a touch claustrophobic. I have never been in them, but sometimes they have left the door open – the room seats about 40 persons I would say. Best to call them to find out. I would definitely recommend trying the food first to make sure you enjoy their dim sum before setting up a huge party – I am sure you will not be disappointed though. I think it is quite a novel idea to have dim sum instead of a traditional dinner-style event. Please let me know what you do decide upon and if you need any further information. Congratulations once again.

            Given how much I have eaten here, it is no surprise that my review turned out as long as it has - considering the length of my other reviews about places I have gone only one or two times. I am glad I could be of assistance. Please enjoy.

            Cheers!

            1. re: BokChoi
              f
              fickle RE: BokChoi Sep 17, 2008 10:51 AM

              The private rooms aren't bad, we had one for my grandmother's 80th birthday party. A bit sterile but nothing that a few fresh bouquets won't fix. The service was excellent. The wait staff were extremely efficient and discreet. Almost on the level of the Splendido servers. Each communal dish was beautifully displayed and then whisked off to be divided up quickly and served. It made for a very pleasurable eating experience, a rarity at my family gatherings!

              1. re: fickle
                Royaljelly RE: fickle Sep 17, 2008 11:25 AM

                Hi Fickle, your grandma's party was for dinner, I presume?

                1. re: Royaljelly
                  f
                  fickle RE: Royaljelly Sep 17, 2008 11:36 AM

                  Yes it was. We had 2 tables of 12 in one of the private rooms. My aunt took care of the menu so I'm not sure if it was a set or if she selected each course. I'll try and post some pix when I get home tonight.

                  1. re: fickle
                    BokChoi RE: fickle Sep 17, 2008 02:34 PM

                    Photos would be great, thanks fickle. Glad to hear you had an enjoyable dinner experience at dinner. The first time I discovered Grand was actually at dinner. I was mesmerized by the food (only ordered two dishes that meal to see what they could do) so I returned promptly for their dim sum. Have not gone anywhere else for dim sum since (except for Lotus when I feel like vegetarian dumplings). Went back a couple of times afterwards for dinner, but was quite disappointed, especially with their suckling pig.

                    Please let us know if you know what menu items your aunt ordered.

                    Cheers!

                    1. re: BokChoi
                      f
                      fickle RE: BokChoi Sep 17, 2008 05:49 PM

                      Here are some pix. Can't remember all the specifics unfortunately. I just remember the scallops were fantastic and that's usually a good indicator for me. If they don't cook it to death, than dinner will be edible!

                      http://www.flickr.com/photos/30680102...

                      1. re: fickle
                        BokChoi RE: fickle Sep 17, 2008 06:51 PM

                        fickle, their fried fish done two-ways looks just like the one I usually have at Ruby's Chinese restaurant. I wonder how much this version was - was it good? The one at Ruby's is about $14 for 1/2 a fish. Enough to feed about 4. A fantastic deal and I order it very often.

                        Great pics. Thanks.

                        1. re: BokChoi
                          f
                          fickle RE: BokChoi Sep 18, 2008 08:11 AM

                          Hi BokChoi,
                          Sorry, I don't know the price. The aunt picked and the aunt paid despite the customary fake fighting for the bill at the end of the meal.

                          1. re: fickle
                            BokChoi RE: fickle Sep 19, 2008 07:58 AM

                            Thanks, I understand.

            2. re: Royaljelly
              skylineR33 RE: Royaljelly Sep 21, 2008 07:39 AM

              Hi Royaljelly, I have been to Grand Chinese Cuisine for wedding banquet and dinner before and the food there is mediocre at best just for your information. I have more details in some of the post before.

              I am not sure how big your party is, but you have make sure they cover the parking for the whole night as Grand only validates it for 3 hours and only give out 6 parking slip that covers the whole night for the wedding party. Because the banquet dinner is longer than 3 hours on the night we went, almost everyone has to pay something like $3/per half hour. As a result, everyone has to wait in line for like 30 MINUTES because of all these confusion (as everyone think they don't need to pay for parking and there is only one attendent in the parking booth for payment) before getting out of the place. So watch out !

            3. re: BokChoi
              Food Tourist RE: BokChoi Oct 18, 2008 05:28 PM

              We finally made it for lunch today. After a wait to be seated (the place was half-full), server brought us forks, knives and...we stopped her and said we didn't need them and assured her that we are Chinese (well, one-quarter and one-half, but still true in both cases). I call this "spring roll" treatment when servers assume I want to eat the safe, Canadian-friendly menu items before I even order. It's annoying and results in a slightly lower tip.

              When asked about our drink order, I asked if there was a selection of teas. She mentioned a few choices such as oolong, jasmine, black...so I chose oolong. Then, for reasons unknown, two pots of tea arrived. When questioned, they said we had ordered both (oolong and Teet Goon Yum - which I only know because it was written on a sign on the teapot lid for some reason?!) and they took back the Teet Goon Yum, which now I regret not trying.

              Incidentally, we were charged $4 for "tea/condiment" (presumably $2 per head). At the start, when my dining companion learned that we would be charged a condiment fee (I thought it would be $1.50 total) he immediately sent back the mustard/hot sauce dish that had just arrived, because it looked as though someone had already been poking around in it with chopsticks!

              Service was really spotty and not at all the high calibre I experienced at suppertime one year ago. (Maybe they were offended by the return of the messy condiment dish?!) Near the end of our meal, they were pulling up carpets, moving tables immediately beside us, and bringing in flowers, presumably for a wedding banquet.

              Okay, on to the food. I liked it better than most of the Spadina Chinatown options, but it was far from perfect.

              "Deep-fried duck foie gras, minced pork & shrimp, wrapped in wafer paper" was the worst item of the 9 we tried. Greasy (left a patch of oil on my plate) and misnamed - the foie was merely liver. Not recommended.

              "Crunchy garlic shrimp roll" was the second worst. No real flavour to the minute amount of shrimp in the narrow "spring roll". Definitely no hint of garlic. I can't understand the high price for what is basically 3 long, narrow, ordinary spring rolls. Came with an average sweet 'n' sour dipping sauce and 3 sticks of raw peppers.

              Har gau were average with slightly overcooked shrimp pieces.

              Grand scallop dumplings were interesting but chock full of cilantro to which I have a personal aversion. My companion found them acceptable.

              Now, on to the better items.

              Deep-fried tofu filled with whole abalone braised in supreme oyster sauce was one huge piece but perhaps too subtly-flavoured, though I think subtlety is needed when the key ingredient needs to shine. I don't have much experience with assessing abalone quality so don't have a definite opinion on this one, except to say I wouldn't get it again.

              Pan-fried bun with minced pork & pumpkin in black bean garlic sauce was indeed tasty because of the bun itself, though the filling was lacking in quantity and flavour.

              Pan-fried turnip cake with chinese sausage definitely needed more turnip and more sausage. However, with a bit of the accompanying hot condiment, it was quite tasty.

              "Duck's tongue & matrimony vine embraced in a crystal consomme pudding" was the highlight of the meal. Slightly salty and savoury, with perfect texture and accompaniments. Innovative (to me, at least) as I have only had plain (but very tasty nonetheless) duck's tongues in the past, at places like City Inn.

              For dessert, "red bean paste pancake with home-made sesame ice-cream" really hit the spot, with a nice juxtaposition of crunchy, warm pastry and cold black sesame. We devoured it.

              We didn't try any items from the "Summerlicious" dimsum menu.

              Would I return? Yes, for a couple of reasons -- including rats on Spadina and proximity to home. My companion disagrees and would rather eat at Dragon Dynasty (where we were also given the "spring roll" treatment a couple of years ago!) Okay, I know the rats issue has been cleaned up (check DineSafe site) but the food at Bright Pearl and Forestview is still subpar in my mind. As for comparisons to Lai Wah Heen, I last ate dimsum there nearly two years ago and remember it as perfectly executed but lacking in excitement or oomph. So, there's no perfect dimsum in Toronto, but it's still fun trying them all and comparing.

              We paid by credit card ($50 plus tip) and did not receive any coupons or promotions.

              1. re: Food Tourist
                skylineR33 RE: Food Tourist Oct 18, 2008 07:41 PM

                The management team of Grand in last summer is not exactly the same now as they left to opened up another restaurant in the same plaza of Lion City in Mississauga.

                Regarding LWH, What do you mean by lacking excitement ? I think LWH is the best place in GTA to find excitement in dim sum with its long list of innovation dim sum both in taste and presentation. The dim sum list is also changed from time to time. The subtleness of its dim sum brings out a good balance in taste with different ingradients used without exaggerating the taste of it. Items like mini baked puff, perfectly baked with jin wah ham and shrimp, wrapped around with a rich ham sauce which is not found anywhere in other dim sum place. Vegetarian truffle roll, which sat on a bed of tender pea shoots in a premuim soy based sauce which a nice scent of truffle. In overall experience, where else can you find better excitement in dim sum in Toronto ? Any example ?

                1. re: skylineR33
                  Food Tourist RE: skylineR33 Oct 19, 2008 06:40 AM

                  I've been at least twice for dim sum at LWH, but not recently. The first time blew me away. The second time was still really good (no flaws like too much grease or poor texture) but lacked "spirit" (which I refer to as "oomph" on this board). I remember it was January, there were 3 of us including a visitor from Quebec, and I walked out a bit regretful that I had made her go there and pay such high prices.

                  However, knowing that the menu is changed from time to time definitely reminds me that it's time to return. I've also heard that the Peking Duck has slipped in quality and preparation since I last had it at LWH over 5 years ago.

                2. re: Food Tourist
                  BokChoi RE: Food Tourist Oct 21, 2008 08:29 AM

                  Thanks for the review Food Tourist

                  Yes, Grand, like all other restaurants, has strong points and weaker points. Glad you enjoyed the dishes that I recommended though! Perhaps on your next visit, you can try some of the other ones on my recommended list. My "recommendations" are my diplomatic way of saying "these dishes are worth the drive" - the ones left off the list are still good dishes, but were not stand-out IMO. They are still considerably better than the run-of-the-mill dim sum places dotted around TO (IMO). But they do have their faults.

                  Curious as to which dim sum places you would think are better than Grand in Chinatown though, as I have never found one. But I would be happy to try one.

                  LWH has been inconsistent for me as well. On my first visit, it was not very good and I could not figure out why it has developed such a reputation. My second visit was better, but still not worth the price tag. Then I went my third time to give it a final try (last week), and I was very happy (though much poorer as a result!) with my meal and found it exceptional. Because of this performance, I doubt I will add it to my go-to list as I do not want to pay $45 a head a leave unhappy. But to each their own.

                  Cheers!

                  1. re: BokChoi
                    skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Oct 21, 2008 09:00 AM

                    Yes, it is expensive, but no doubt LWH is the most consistent dim sum place in Toronto already FYI. There is no place that has 100% positive review or consistency in this world includes any of the stars restaurants.

                    1. re: skylineR33
                      y
                      Yum2MyTum RE: skylineR33 Oct 22, 2008 07:46 AM

                      Re the above comment that "no doubt LWH is the most consistent dim sum place in Toronto already FYI"

                      : ) Are you insinuating, skylineR33, that no one can suggest that LWH may not in fact be *gasp* the most consistent dim sum place in Toronto? I say 'bravo' to all the Chowhounds willing to express opinions that might not be consistent with the status quo, in spite of the fierce defences offered by some of the old guard on this board.

                      1. re: Yum2MyTum
                        skylineR33 RE: Yum2MyTum Oct 22, 2008 08:00 AM

                        Hi Yum2MyTum, it is just that it is quite obvious that LWH provides very consistent dim sum. It can be used as a dim sum standard in Toronto, regardless of its high price. I actually find it misleading and unfair in a way to say LWH's dim sum is considered inconsistent. To me, it is like saying Splendido's service is not consistent, whether you like it or not. If LWH's dim sum is considered inconsistent in Toronto, where can one find consistent dim sum in Toronto, whether you appreciate the taste of it or not ?

                    2. re: BokChoi
                      Food Tourist RE: BokChoi Oct 21, 2008 12:53 PM

                      I haven't found any exceptional dim sum in Spadina Chinatown but enjoyed my one experience at Rol San last winter. I also enjoy Mothers Dumplings for tapas-style eating (I forget what that is called - I know it's similar to dim sum but different region?) I'd say the dim sum items in Markham are better than Grand, but I'd be willing to return to Grand to try the items you have highly recommended.

                      1. re: Food Tourist
                        BokChoi RE: Food Tourist Oct 22, 2008 05:21 AM

                        I have heard good things about Rol San and Mother's Dumplings, but I have never been. From my impression though, I never thought they were considered 'gourmet' destinations - but I could be wrong! I have always planned on going to those places, so maybe I can see for myself the type of food that rivals the Grand!

                        I'm shocked that you found places in Markham better - which places are you referring to? It's closer to my house than Grand, so it would be quite helpful.

                        1. re: Food Tourist
                          skylineR33 RE: Food Tourist Oct 22, 2008 07:26 AM

                          Agree, Empire Court is on par with Grand if not better, Casa Imperial is close or the same in overall.

                3. always_eating RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 07:40 AM

                  Thanks BokChoi! I'm going to take my Dad there (not too much of a trek) because where he lives, the dim sum choices are a little sad. Usually he drives out to Scarborough for his fix.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: always_eating
                    BokChoi RE: always_eating Sep 16, 2008 11:54 AM

                    I do the reverse commute and drive all the way from Scarborough. Hope you both enjoy it. Please let me know your thoughts afterwards.

                    Cheers!

                  2. y
                    Yum2MyTum RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 12:31 PM

                    What a comprehensive review, BokChoi!

                    I've eaten at Grand a few times for dim sum - although clearly not as many times as OP - and I've never failed to be impressed. My favourites include the cod baked pastry in a thousand layers (savoury perfection), Grouper Rice Noodle with Baby Snow Pea Leaves, the mushroom wrapped in tofu sheets, and the scallop dumpling.

                    Grand has definitely inspired a new love for dim sum in me. I would definitely agree with BokChoi's assessment: that the food is absolutely delicious, and the place is totally worth the drive. I might add that service is extremely professional and courteous, and the restaurant itself is very nicely decorated, for what it is.

                    1. p
                      Pincus RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 02:38 PM

                      Just to clarify, the dim sum is available all day? Or is there only the dinner menu from a certain time on?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pincus
                        BokChoi RE: Pincus Sep 16, 2008 03:32 PM

                        Thanks for the kind comment, Yum2MyTum. Good choice of favourite dishes.

                        Pincus, the dim sum is only available during lunch, unfortunately. I think it ends around 3PM, but you should call to be sure. Dinner menu around 5PM onwards - though I have never been too impressed with their dinner meals.

                        Please also note that the weekdays dim sum menu is a bit more limited than the weekend menu. I tend to dine during the weekends, so the menu and photos reflect that more diverse selection.

                        Cheers!

                        1. re: BokChoi
                          JonasBrand RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 06:15 PM

                          Amazing review! Looking forward to trying this spot!

                          -----
                          Grand Chinese Cuisine
                          655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON M9W1J3, CA

                      2. jennjen18 RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 06:14 PM

                        Hey BokChoi. :) Do you know how dishes are priced? ie. how much is a S, M, L, XL, specials?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: jennjen18
                          BokChoi RE: jennjen18 Sep 26, 2008 10:03 AM

                          Hi jennjen18,

                          The prices are as follows:

                          XS: $2.80
                          S: $3.03
                          M: $4.80
                          L: $5.50
                          XL: $6.50
                          SP: $7.50

                          So you can match them up against the menus I have on flickr and determine the approximate price range for your meal. For a group of three, we generally have about 9 dishes and we are completely satisfied. Total comes out to about $60 for 3 - so about $20 a head. This is before the 'cash back' discount for paying cash.

                          Their phone # is 416 248 9898

                          Cheers!

                        2. p
                          peppermint pate RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 06:46 PM

                          I had flagged this post and set it aside to read when I had the time to "digest" it. Great review and gorgeous, drool-worthy pics. I love dim sum. It's a bit of a trek but you've definitely put this place on my "must try" list.

                          1. skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Sep 16, 2008 07:21 PM

                            Hi BokChoi, great report !

                            I agree Grand's dim sum is very nice in Toronto, but dinner is mediocre. However, in your shrimp dumpling picture (Har Gow), what is the dark colour thing ? Looks quite disgusting. It looks like shrimp's intestine which should be clean in any high end dim sum, or is it some kind of vegetable ?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: skylineR33
                              BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Sep 17, 2008 05:55 AM

                              Hi peppermint pate, jennjen18, jonasbrand, and skylineR33,

                              Glad you enjoyed the pictures and the review. Finally was able to put all my photos to use instead of just letting them gather dust on my hard drive.

                              Jennjen18, I’ll try to dig up the prices for you for the different categories. I don’t know the exact prices off-hand, I always just order my favourites and when shared amongst 3 people, the tab comes out to about $18 a head including tax/tip. I will try to find a menu – they unfortunately do not have a take home menu, but I did get a copy a while back when deciding whether or not to try their dim sum. I will try to scan it for you.

                              SkylineR33, those dark pieces are just the garnish. A fine sprinkling of parsley/cilantro to add colour to the dumpling – you can see a better photo of the garnish on http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . Same deal, but the colouring on that photo renders the garnish a bit more visible. Don’t worry, it is not the vein of the shrimp. They actually handle their shrimp quite while with their butterflying techniques and hand-knotting of the tail of the shrimp.

                              Cheers!

                              1. re: BokChoi
                                Teep RE: BokChoi Sep 18, 2008 02:34 PM

                                I'm interested in the prices too, especially if you say "cheaper than LWH", as in 5% cheaper? 20%?

                                1. re: BokChoi
                                  jennjen18 RE: BokChoi Sep 18, 2008 05:19 PM

                                  Yes, .. and I see that one of your pictures include a "Summerlicious" pricing! ... Do you know whether they have Winterlicious? Were they ever on the list for Summerlicious on the toronto.ca website?

                              2. TorontoJo RE: BokChoi Sep 18, 2008 05:40 AM

                                Thanks to your post, our next chowmeet is going to be dim sum at Grand! If anyone wants to join us, please visit the google group for details and to rsvp.

                                http://groups.google.ca/group/chowhou...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: TorontoJo
                                  BokChoi RE: TorontoJo Sep 20, 2008 09:43 AM

                                  TorontoJo, I saw your thread for the chowmeet and saw some comments about payment methods. They accept credit cards, however, you will not get the cash-back coupons for future use if you do not pay cash, as mentioned above. Hope that is of some assistance!
                                  Cheers

                                2. sugarcube RE: BokChoi Sep 18, 2008 10:48 AM

                                  Terrific Review BokChoi! The lobster dumplings as well as the fois gras ones looked especially enticing. It's just too bad that it's located all the way out in Mississauga!

                                  You mentioned Casa Imperial in your review (which I quite enjoy.. but reserve it for more special occasions as the price points are higher than other dim sum restos in the Scarborough area). How do you feel it compares to Grand (portions, taste, price)?

                                  p.s. no kidding about the Casa chef being trained by the one at Grand.. I did a double take for a few of your photos i.e.Goon Tong Gow (Seafood Dumpling in Soup). These items were an exact duplicate of what I've eaten at Casa before!.haha

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: sugarcube
                                    T Long RE: sugarcube Sep 18, 2008 01:33 PM

                                    The Grand is a good higher end dim sum restaurant inside the Doubletree International Plaza Hotel which is located in Toronto....near Mississauga but not in. (But far enough away that it seems to be there.)

                                    1. re: sugarcube
                                      BokChoi RE: sugarcube Sep 19, 2008 07:56 AM

                                      Hi Sugarcube, Teep, Toronto Jo and JennJen18

                                      Thanks Toronto Jo for setting up a chowmeet at Grand. I really hope you all enjoy it as much as I do. Teep, as I mentioned, the prices are about 20% cheaper because of all the coupons you get after paying (cash and if you spend over a certain amount – I think $30 or so), as well, the base prices of the dim sums themselves (S, M, L, SP). JennJen18 – I’m still searching for the menu prices at home. It’s been very busy at work lately, so I have been deferring my chow duties for a bit lately – many apologies. I hope to make the chow meet as well, but once again, work has been nagging as of late.

                                      As for Casa, I honestly have not been impressed (of course, I had tried Grand first, so if I had not, perhaps my opinion would have been different). Though I have only gone there twice, I have been sorely disappointed both times. The dishes were higher in fat/grease IMO and the presentation was definitely lacking and not as polished in some areas. But I could have been ordering incorrectly because so many people have posted favourable posts about it – I really believe that many restaurants have only a few key dishes that set them apart from the rest and in order to eat well, you must know what to order. I hope that people will post what dishes are popular there sometime before I even consider venturing back there. The place is in dire need of refurbishing as well – it appears they just took over from the former steak place and did nothing to give it a facelift. The portions are similar – but the food of Grand is incomparable as it was simply head-and-shoulders above Casa. Since the prices are similar, I would prefer to drive the distance and head to Grand. Nothing else satiates my appetite for dim sum anymore, besides Grand.

                                      As for summerlicious – they were not involved. They change their menus seasonally. Though I have noticed that they are not as varied as I would have liked – just because I go so frequently, I get bored faster than they change their menus. They try to have lighter items (dumplings and veggies) during the summer, and heavier dishes during the winter (foie gras dumplings, beefier dishes). I hope they become more adventurous, but due to the lack of business, they have tried to make their menus more conventional in order to attract a larger crowd (which makes no sense in my eyes, as you want to differentiate yourself from the competition to attract customers…but alas, I am no restaurateur).

                                      Cheers everyone!

                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                        skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Sep 19, 2008 12:20 PM

                                        There are certain item that I think is made better in Casa Imperial than Grand like the "Goon Tong Gow" (Seafood Dumpling in Soup). If you don't like Casa Imperial's atmosphere, go to the new Casa Victoria, their dim sum list are very similar. The problem with them are their dim sum are not very consistent. Grand is also more exepensive than Casa, although not by a lots.

                                        1. re: skylineR33
                                          BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Sep 22, 2008 08:14 AM

                                          Hi skylineR33 - Victoria is not consistent? Would that impair the overall quality of the restaurant and the experience itself? Would it be worth visiting, IYO? When it is 'off' is it still in line with Grand?

                                          Also, which items are good at Casa Imperial? I have been there twice and have been very underwhelmed each time. I was probably ordering incorrectly and would like some suggestions.

                                          The Goon Tong Gow at Grand has had several reincarnations. The earlier ones were very subtle in flavour, even for my tastes. I did not particularly favour those early versions. They have since 'improved' (in my eyes - by making it more conventional in flavour) the chicken broth body/ flavour and it is definitely comparable to some of the best in the city for that price range. The presentation alone makes it worth ordering if but just one time.

                                          Cheers!

                                          1. re: BokChoi
                                            skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Sep 22, 2008 01:37 PM

                                            I am not sure, since you are ok to drive all the way to Grand for dim sum, you might as well stick with it for it's consistency. Dim sum items like Goon Tong Gow, Har Gow, Jar Liang, Abalone puff, scallion pancake,etc .... are all good at Casa Victoria but I also experience some off days in there.

                                            1. re: skylineR33
                                              BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Sep 23, 2008 06:50 AM

                                              Thanks for the recommendations. I am always willing to try new restaurants...at least once. I am very fickle though and if they fail to impress the first time, I very seldomly go a second time. I hope they are "on" the day I go just so that I can see their full potential. Maybe I'll go on a day I am too lazy to drive to Grand.

                                              Cheers skylineR33!

                                    2. t
                                      tochowchick RE: BokChoi Sep 19, 2008 02:45 PM

                                      BokChoi...
                                      Thanks so much for telling me about Grand...my chowpal and I went there for dim sum today and wow...GREAT quality...delicious. Can't remember all the yummy things we had but everything was not only extremely tasty but also beautifully presented. We arrived about 1:30 and the dining room wasn't full at all...a very enjoyable and leisurely experience. We'll be going back!!!

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: tochowchick
                                        BokChoi RE: tochowchick Sep 19, 2008 04:34 PM

                                        Great to hear that you had a memorable experience. Thanks for your comments, tochowchick. I was glad my post helped you discover this gem of a restaurant.

                                        Cheers

                                        1. re: BokChoi
                                          jennjen18 RE: BokChoi Sep 20, 2008 12:20 PM

                                          Give it a week - I say after a week, all Chowhounds are gonna tell their friends/families, and then Grand will be packed out the doors... :P Plus the Chowmeet coming up too...!!!

                                          1. re: jennjen18
                                            BokChoi RE: jennjen18 Sep 21, 2008 04:40 AM

                                            Jennjen18, have you had an opportunity yet to drive all the way out there? Let's hope I can still easily get a seat the next time I head over there!

                                            Cheers

                                      2. t
                                        tochowchick RE: BokChoi Sep 21, 2008 07:15 AM

                                        One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post...be sure to take your parking ticket in with you...they will stamp it so you don't have to pay to park!!! Nice touch...

                                        1. syoung RE: BokChoi Sep 23, 2008 02:26 PM

                                          Thanks BokChoi for the comprehensive review. We'll give it a try on your recommendation. My only reservation is, usually, if a resturant has to hand out coupons to attract customers and, despite doing so, is still "½ empty all the time", that's almost never a good sign.

                                          It's location is an issue, but the Chinese community is sufficiently large and close knit that you'd think word-of-mouth would've spread like wild flower over the many years of its existence about their amazing dim sum that ranks up there with some of the better in HK. So why is it still only half full all the time?

                                          In any case, we'll have a try in the coming month and see how it goes. The longer drive is certainly preferable to having to wait an hour or more for a table at many dim sum restaurants in Markham or Scarborough or even North York.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: syoung
                                            T Long RE: syoung Sep 23, 2008 06:23 PM

                                            How this place stayed open given their dining room traffic was always a mystery to me until the OP mentioned their catering business which includes a major airline client.

                                            1. re: T Long
                                              BokChoi RE: T Long Sep 23, 2008 06:53 PM

                                              The first time I stumbled into Grand, I was taken aback by how empty it was. But since I was already there, I dragged by co-diners in with me and we tried the food. The rest, as they say, is history.

                                              I find that many diners prefer cheaper dim sum and honestly do not find the food 'worth' the premium. Many of my friends find 'Perfect' restaurant totally sufficient for their tastes. For those that do, that is good for them that they can find food for such a good price. Places like Ruby find themselves absolutely packed (about 300 persons) at lunch every single day, and I cannot stomach their dim sum (though their bbq noodle soup dishes are amazing at lunch). Many people eat to be full and are satisfied with the basics. But to each their own - I do not try to understand why some terrible restaurants are always packed.

                                              For me, there is nothing that will satiate me but Grand. They have had to 'tone down' the luxury of their items quite a bit since I first started going there because the better items did not 'keep' well and since the turnover was low, they only made the more popular items that would sell in a day - as everything is made fresh each day. I hope they will reintroduce items as they become more popular.

                                              Please don't remind me of the bitter taste left in my mouth last time I went to Casa Imperial and had to wait nearly 2 hrs to get a seat - for mediocre (better than average for Toronto, of course) dim sum in the end. So disappointing! So I agree, the drive is equivalent to the wait at some of the more popular dim sum places.

                                              Cheers and I hope you enjoy the dim sum there!

                                              1. re: BokChoi
                                                skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Sep 23, 2008 07:53 PM

                                                I don't think you can compare Ruby with Grand, they are at a total different price range, people go to Ruby for the cheap dim sum deal which can be like 5 times cheaper than Grand.

                                                As for Grand, I have known friends who like Casa Imperial just as much as Grand which I totally understand why. It is cheaper to eat at Casa, quality is in generally pretty good with all the comments from my foodie friends and much less traffic time. For less wait time at Casa, make a reservation next time, it will be a bit better. But rarely you have to wait 2 hours to eat there.

                                                Every dim sum place has it's strong items and people has different preferences. For example, I prefer the fried cuttlefish tentacle, 酥炸魷魚鬚, at Casa than Grand as it is with the five spices at Casa and less batter, however, sometime the tentacle they use is too big. However, I always prefer the way it is prepared and the taste of it. The one at Grand is more like western style fried calamari to me with the way they use the batter. Compare the one in your picture with the picture here and you will see the differences.

                                                For me, dim sum at Grand is better than Casa in overall but whether it worths the extra effort and time to get there, it depends on the individual.

                                                 
                                            2. re: syoung
                                              aser RE: syoung Sep 24, 2008 12:24 AM

                                              Most dim sum goers tend to favour the regular no frills dim sum, especially the older crowd (ie. large % of dim sum goers). The new higher end stuff tends to attract the younger people and foodies. Plus most Chinese people I know hate driving far for things they can get around the block. Yes quality is not comparable, but that's not the way they see it.

                                              This brings up the second point, Grand is under the same parent company as Dragon Dynasty and Big Mouth Kee, both very conveniently located in Chinese hotbeds. Why waste 40 mins driving to the airport when Dragon is 10 mins away?

                                              I'm playing devil's advocate....

                                              For the record, Casa is my go to spot for dim sum nowadays. A good balance between quality and price.

                                            3. w
                                              Westwardho RE: BokChoi Sep 24, 2008 08:00 AM

                                              Wow, that's quite a review. As a westender, I can't believe that we are lucky enough to have Grand within a short drive. I agree with all of the kudos for dim sum. I have been for dim lots and lots, but never for dinner oddly enough. I have never had a bad experience and I have never had to wait for a table, whis is sad in a twisted way.

                                              The only "strange" things that I have found have been an array of bean curd creations that never seem to hit the mark. Last time I had a bean curd and egg thing, that was tasty enough, but texturally it was all mushy stuff. I am pretty adventurous to try new things, but boy, you even adventure to the desserts!! You are hard core. ;-)

                                              The only thing consistently missing is something with a bean curd wrapper (fried or steamed)

                                              Everything is really delicate. Perfectly cooked. Tons of professional service. My kind of place. And still predominantly frequented by an Asian clientele I might add.

                                              (But for cheap and cheerful I go to Emerald Chinese at Huriontario and Eglinton)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Westwardho
                                                BokChoi RE: Westwardho Sep 24, 2008 10:41 AM

                                                hi Westwardho - I am pretty much game for anything that is edible. I will try just about anything once - I mean, how else will you learn and discover new sensations? It's all about sensory overload for me. I try everything and post the photos and comments to take the guess work out of ordering for fellow CHers, family and friends.

                                                They have a great beancurd wrapped chicken with taro and baby corn that is quite good. It also has fish maw in it. I find that dish is pretty good and it was a relatively new addition. Perhaps you should give that one a try?

                                                This is the one I was mentioning:
                                                photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                I was not a fan of their fried bean curd stuffed with seafood and pork mixture. I found it very heavy and greasy. But it is a popular dish and I often see it on neighbouring tables. Great price, I must add, for what you get.

                                                Cheers!

                                              2. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Sep 29, 2008 04:35 PM

                                                Tried a couple of additional dishes (there isn't much on the menu that I have yet to try). Some were quite poor in quality (maybe just not my taste, hence why I have never tried them) and some were surprisingly good.

                                                First the good:

                                                Salmon and Foie Gras on Rice in Casserole: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                Closeup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                Single Serving: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                Excellent flavour exuded by the bits of foie peppered throughout the topping. Warm, and hearty. The salmon was sweet and not overcooked, considering the preparation method. Approximately $12. Serves about 4 with about 1~1.5 bowls each.

                                                The Fried tofu stuffed with Abalone was another winner. I have had this before, but neglected to get a photo of it. Decided to give it another try and was pleasantly surprised by this rediscovery.$3.30 (S) It has very few chunks of abalone, but it is nicely rounded out by the fresh and fragrant mushrooms. Great little dish for the price.
                                                Abalone Tofu: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                Another strong dish revisted from the past is the turnip pastry in thousand layers. Very sweet (yet subtle), excellently fried/baked to give it a very light, crisp texture. Not oily in the least. Quite enjoyable and will order again.

                                                Turnip Pastry: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                Now the bad: The tripe. The first time I ordered it, I was blown away by the texture and flavouring. Every time SINCE then though, it has been a complete disappointment. The tripe just was not as fresh as it was the first time - each time a bit too overcooked and 'floppy' for my tastes. I really hope they can emulate the first version again sometime. It was the best version I have had in TO: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                and finally, the ugly:
                                                OK, so I have never been a fan of beef balls, so perhaps I am just being a bit biased, but this is definitely a contender for my most disliked dish in Grand. The texture just threw me for a loop and the depth of flavour was not there (expecting a bit more 'kick' - cilantro? something?). Also, not a fan of the presentation: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                Single Beef Ball: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                Hope you enjoy the photos and recommended dishes to try and to avoid. Please note that the dim sum menus come on the separate loose-leaf papers and NOT the leather-bound menu. Those would be the dinner items that are not recommended (as highly). Even though the pictures look fantastic, please stick to the dim sum menu to fully appreciate all Grand has to offer, and to understand why I have held it in such high praise.

                                                Cheers and Happy Eating!

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: BokChoi
                                                  skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Sep 29, 2008 04:57 PM

                                                  If you want a good tripe, try out Casa Imperial 's XO sauce beef stripe, it is much better.

                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                    BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Sep 29, 2008 05:18 PM

                                                    Thanks. May head there again then once I gather enough intel on what I should try there and what to avoid.

                                                  2. re: BokChoi
                                                    w
                                                    Westwardho RE: BokChoi Sep 30, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                    Yeah, I went on another expedition Sunday. Had the normal stuff, but also ordered the "mushroom something-or-other" near the bottom of the menu. It was good. A siu mai type dumpling with the mystery meat stuffung and cute enoki's sticking out of it. And then steamed and served in the same sauce as the bean curd rolls. Real tasty. The other strange departure was the "rice roll wrapped around bean curd wrapper and pork filling" That was actually ok too, and a HUGE portion. Black bean ribs were tough, but I did get there late. The rest was fantastic. Best pan fried turnip cake in the city IMHO

                                                    1. re: Westwardho
                                                      BokChoi RE: Westwardho Oct 1, 2008 10:49 AM

                                                      Hi Westwardho,

                                                      Great to hear your review. I am glad you have enjoyed those dishes you described - they were amongst the weakest of their offerings, but they are still above average in terms of dim sum in Toronto, IMO. The black been ribs I actually have never tried - I have had the version on the noodles, is that the one you tried? That is prepared by their 'dinner' chef/team and not the dim sum chef, so yes, I agree it is of lower quality.

                                                      I would agree with you as well about the turnip cake - absolutely amazing with the XO sauce it is served with. Beautifully presented as well...

                                                      Cheers!

                                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                                        t
                                                        tksh RE: BokChoi Oct 2, 2008 07:59 PM

                                                        I might as well report my experience, listing items as they were printed on my receipt (too lazy to type out the Chinese names):

                                                        Prawn dumpling: awesome skin, mediocre filling -- where's the juice and bamboo shoots? Seriously, at $5.50 for four, I expect it be much more than this.

                                                        Bok choy dumpling: again, awesome skin but the filling was average.

                                                        BBQ pork bun (and in chinese, it's abalone sauce BBQ pork bun curiously): definitely agree with BokChoi on this one, it's quite good.

                                                        Seafood dumpling: the 'ma tei' in the paste overpowered the other flavours but was otherwise average and not worth ordering again.

                                                        Squid tentacles: BokChoi nailed this as one of the best in GTA, not much more for me to add.

                                                        The fried fois gras thing: we ordered it for kicks, it wasn't bad but not something we would try again ($3.30 each!)

                                                        Sesame balls: usually these are sweet but Grand Chinese had these 'salty' style and they were very good, the fried skin was well done and the filling nicely balanced. This actually made the meal for us.

                                                        Custard tarts with swallow nest: I couldn't taste the swallow nest but the tart was damn good, in my memory it's probably the best I've had in GTA, just very much on the small side. 3 for $5.50 but I would definitely order this again even just for take out.

                                                        Hits and misses for us as well but at $50 for two people before tax, it was cheaper than we expected and where it hit, it was quite up there. Just a note for peeps whole like to drink early: they only open at 10:30 on weekends and when we went, it was empty for the first hour so the staff got to hear all of our conversation while we heard all of theirs (protip: their sweet water has been very poor lately apparently, many complaints).

                                                        Has anyone tried their dinners? I know they use dim sum chefs are different from their dinner chefs so was wondering how their dinner staff fared. They have a nice special on of their 10 people set meals.

                                                        1. re: tksh
                                                          skylineR33 RE: tksh Oct 2, 2008 08:37 PM

                                                          Cut from one of my earlier post regarding some of my dinner experience there :

                                                          Grand's dinner is poor with some dishes average at best. Had one of their most expensive dinner set a few months ago which features "One Head" abalone. But found out that it is a ripped off as it is no way the size of even a "three head". It is cooked very rough with not enough time, the taste of the broth is not infused into the abalone at all, leaving it like eating rubber. The other dishes are average at best. The last course fried rice is some of the worst fried rice I have ever eaten, it is as dried as eating a piece of boiled chicken breast, I think they over burnt it.

                                                          After that we had another 10 courses dinner in there which is also very disappointed, especially with the steamed sea bass which is over cooked to the point that the texture of the fish is even worst than frozen fish.

                                                          1. re: tksh
                                                            BokChoi RE: tksh Oct 3, 2008 05:47 AM

                                                            Thanks for the comprehensive review, tksh. Seems like we have similar taste when it comes to our 'favourite' dishes at the Grand. I have a very boring lineup nowadays when I go - I rotate through about 15 -18 different items each time I go, because they are the tested and true favourites. I cannot wait to see a new revamped menu. I think I might go there a little TOO often...
                                                            Cheers!

                                                            1. re: BokChoi
                                                              t
                                                              tksh RE: BokChoi Oct 9, 2008 05:43 PM

                                                              skylineR33: I'm very disappointed to hear that their dinner chefs are so poor. Considering the money they spend to attract quality dim sum chefs, I would've thought they would do the same for dinner service. So much for that ten person special I wanted to try.

                                                              BokChoi: I have to admit I'm not as daring as you to work through the whole menu like you have. 15-18 items each time is a lot! That's enough to feed five people.

                                                              Like someone else mentioned in this thread, I was surprised by their condiment charge. It's certainly cheaper than a tea charge but... if you're charging for condiments, then why are you serving regular chili-oil? Might as well be in-house XO sauce if you're going for that type of class and charging for condiments.

                                                              1. re: tksh
                                                                BokChoi RE: tksh Oct 9, 2008 05:54 PM

                                                                Sorry, I should have been more clear ! My regular repertoire consists of about 15-18 favourites. I only have about 9 dishes each visit. That is plenty for a table of 3. I have yet to be disappointed with their dim sum (as of late - they were a bit patchy last Christmas - but they have stepped up their game since then). Hope you enjoy the rest of the dishes the next time you visit.

                                                                Cheers!

                                                                1. re: tksh
                                                                  BokChoi RE: tksh Oct 10, 2008 06:26 AM

                                                                  BTW, they do have an excellent XO sauce variant served with their pan-fried turnip cake. It comes with the dish and I have found it to be of very high quality. Save it after you are done with your turnip cake to use with your other dishes if you so desire.

                                                                  Cheers!

                                                      2. w
                                                        Wandering Foodie RE: BokChoi Oct 1, 2008 01:22 PM

                                                        Hey BokChoi, I'm curious... what is their affiliation with Big Mouth Kee and Dragon Dynasty?

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Wandering Foodie
                                                          aser RE: Wandering Foodie Oct 2, 2008 09:32 AM

                                                          they're all owned by the same company.

                                                          1. re: Wandering Foodie
                                                            BokChoi RE: Wandering Foodie Oct 2, 2008 12:13 PM

                                                            aser is correct, Wandering Foodie. I would say that is where the similarities end though - the chefs and the menus are completely different. So if you have been less impressed with one, the same sentiment should not be extended to the rest of them. To be honest, I have never tried Big Mouth Kee. I have often gone to Dragon Dynasty, because it is near my home and have good BBQ. I used to enjoy their dim sum as well, but have recently found it to be quite patchy.

                                                            Cheers!

                                                            1. re: BokChoi
                                                              skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Oct 2, 2008 08:36 PM

                                                              No, there are some dinner set which is exactly the same in Grand and Dragon Dynasty but Grand charges more. I have eaten some of those dinner set... I think the quality of Dragon Dynasty is better.

                                                              1. re: BokChoi
                                                                aser RE: BokChoi Oct 2, 2008 10:04 PM

                                                                Big Mouth Kee is open until 4-5am, depending on the day of the week. It's emulating the late night dai pai dong 鑊氣 vibe. I've had pretty decent meals there. Their black bean clams/razor clams or typhoon shelter crab go well w/ a beer.

                                                                Once I was lucky enough to have a banquet meal at BMK cooked by the head chef of Dragon Dynasty. A family friend knew the higher ups and pulled some strings to arrange it. Had geoduck in hotpot amongst other things.

                                                                1. re: aser
                                                                  BokChoi RE: aser Oct 3, 2008 05:28 AM

                                                                  How is BMK when the head chef at Dragon Dynasty is not cooking there? I have heard that they have gone downhill significantly as of late. The popularity of DD is another factor which may be keeping Grand affloat (i.e. the owners can afford to carry a hemorrhaging restaurant a little longer with the profits from another restaurant lining their pockets).

                                                                  CHeers!

                                                            2. h
                                                              herbs go karts RE: BokChoi Oct 3, 2008 12:38 PM

                                                              Headed to Grand last weekend based on the chatter... now when I was growing-up my Dad took us for dim sum every weekend. That's about 52 dim-sums per year x many years. He liked dim sum.

                                                              Our menu list comprised:

                                                              Grand scallop dumpling - beautiful presentation, very good contrast of textures and tastes in filling

                                                              pork pumpkin bun - as bok choi commented, the bun texture is simply excellent, this is what it should be like

                                                              lotus leaf rice - Very good quality of rice and cooked with care (which isn't usually the case!) Having said that, my usualy problem with lotus leaf rice is that I like the Taiwanese style, which is a very robustly flavoured/filled variation and you're just not going to get real Taiwanese style at dim-sum

                                                              deep fried shrimp roll - perfectly deep fried, great crispness and crunch. good clean shrmip flavour... but on the expensive side! It is very good but I would not order it again simply due to price

                                                              sesame ball with duck filling - pretty creative, pretty tasty in an odd way. frying technique notable for excellence, again

                                                              chicken and shitake dumpling - beautifully presented, liek with the grand scallop dumpling very good contrast of texture and taste in the filling

                                                              steamed lotus green tea cake - the only disappointment. nothing special and it somehow took 45 minutes after everything else was finsihed to serve; and they knew we were waiting. nothing special. At least they took it off the bill.

                                                              Presentation and creativity receive high marks. Everything is presented beautifully and the kitchen is highly skilled. It is definitely on par with Lai Wah Heen.

                                                              Wouldn't hesitate to go again; a real find for dim sum fans since it is significantly less expensive than Lai Wah Heen. Non dim-sum fans may not appreciate their subtleties though.

                                                              One thing that bothered me is they charge for condiments! And the two dishes of condiment (hot sauce and sweet sauce) were served as part of individual orders - not as if you have a choice to take them or not they just come with the order. Doesn't seem quite right to me.

                                                              26 Replies
                                                              1. re: herbs go karts
                                                                T Long RE: herbs go karts Oct 4, 2008 05:44 AM

                                                                Hi Herbs: Do you have any idea how long Grand has been around and serving the high end dim-sum.....my uninformed perception is that it was not that old...less than 5 years, but your post seems to indicate otherwise. Thx.

                                                                1. re: T Long
                                                                  skylineR33 RE: T Long Oct 4, 2008 08:13 PM

                                                                  Grand has been in business for quite a while, a bit more than 2 years, it just that it never takes off. It got quite a lots of attention in the beginning but cannot hold on to the momentum. Dim sum is great there, but I do not think it is really much differences from what I can get in dim sum places in Richmond Hill after all, and many of my `foodie` friends thinks the same too, especially with the extra one and a half hour to and from there.

                                                                  LWH is on top of it in my opinion in terms of refinement, presentation, innovation, environment and service.

                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                    T Long RE: skylineR33 Oct 4, 2008 09:41 PM

                                                                    Ths Skyline....that is the period I thought too. I see now that I misread Herbs..he was just refering to his current visit there. Too bad that Grand's business doesn't seem to be flourishing.....wonder if there would be any plans to transfer their dim sum chef to their operations in Scarborough or Markham at some point, such as when their lease at the Hotel expires.

                                                                    1. re: T Long
                                                                      BokChoi RE: T Long Oct 5, 2008 06:49 AM

                                                                      T Long, I actually spoke to them about this option, and since Dragon Dynasty is doing so well, they did not have plans to replace their chef there. It would make sense, there is only room for one head chef at each restaurant location. The dim sum chef of Grand is actually from the Scarborough/Markham area and he makes the commute each morning to prepare the dim sum for Cathay Pacific and the restaurant itself. He also mentioned he prefers the working conditions of Grand as he was a head chef at high-class restaurants in HK before he headed over to Canada. He enjoys the cleanliness of the DoubleTree and the spaciousness. When I saw the interiors of the kitchen, I can understand what he means - it does not look anything like the kitchens of the Scarborough/Markham/Richmond hill Chinese restaurants that I have seen. The place is immaculate and not cramped in the least.

                                                                      skylineR33 and I have had long discussions about who has better dim sum, and whether or not Grand is worth the drive. We are in disagreement, but I hope that you will eventually have a chance to try it and come to your own conclusion.

                                                                      p.s. To the ones that attended the ChowMeet - How the did it go? I am a bit nervous to find out.

                                                                      Cheers and Happy Eating!

                                                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                                                        f
                                                                        fickle RE: BokChoi Oct 10, 2008 02:06 PM

                                                                        Hi BokChoi. Sorry for the delay in posting. We are notoriously known for being very slow or not posting at all after our meetups! I think it’s the fact that we make comments throughout the meal so it feels like the review is done already. Here’s a summary as I recall it, hopefully the other folks will pip in and add their comments.

                                                                        We had reservations for 11am. There were 2 other tables occupied when we arrived. The dining room did fill up to about three quarters full throughout the 3 hours we were there. We were served Jasmine tea as we perused the menu. We created our own dim sum tasting menu. Since we had 13 people, we decided to have each person select one item of their choice and order enough pieces for 13 people. It was a great way to sample a wide variety. We had the following:
                                                                        Har gau
                                                                        Siu mai
                                                                        Spareribs in black bean sauce
                                                                        Prawn, yellow chive & corn in steamed rice roll
                                                                        Pan-seared cuttlefish mousse cakes
                                                                        Pan-fried turnip cake with Chinese sausage
                                                                        Shrimp mousse tempura
                                                                        Deep-fried sesame balls stuffed with bbq duckling, taro & pineseeds
                                                                        Chicken & Shitake mushroom dumpling
                                                                        Fried rice with conpoy & shrimp in lotus leaf
                                                                        Scallop dumpling
                                                                        Pan-seared tofu layer fold with assorted veggies
                                                                        Crunch garlic shrimp rolls
                                                                        Steamed bbq pork bun
                                                                        Egg tart
                                                                        Red bean paste pancake w/black sesame ice cream
                                                                        Steamed cake w/green tea & lotus seed paste

                                                                        Here are the pix:
                                                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbcurio/...

                                                                        Highlights for me were the turnip cakes, sesame balls, the chicken & mushroom dumplings, the egg tarts and the steamed dough of the bbq pork bun (the pork itself was tough and overcooked but the dough was fantastic). I think the least favourite dish was the spare ribs. They were bland and rather tasteless. I was very impressed with the deep fried items, none of which were greasy or oily. The service was inconsistent, it ranged anywhere from incredibly attentive to complete neglect but nothing that couldn’t be rectified the old fashioned way by waving the arm like my mother used to do!

                                                                        Thanks for the original recommendation, I think the group enjoyed themselves. I personally will return.

                                                                        1. re: fickle
                                                                          p
                                                                          Pincus RE: fickle Oct 10, 2008 02:17 PM

                                                                          Why am I looking at these photos at dinner time?! Now I want to go!

                                                                          1. re: fickle
                                                                            Jacquilynne RE: fickle Oct 10, 2008 06:39 PM

                                                                            I agree with fickle's assessments for the most part, though I thought the chicken&mushroom dumplings were prettier than they were tasty.

                                                                            The egg tarts were amazingly good, and although I was the one who ate the most of them because damnit, I love dim sum spare ribs, those spare ribs were just not good in any way.

                                                                            I also didn't like the shrimp mousse tempura -- textural issues. Though the taro that came with it was good.

                                                                            And the pancake ice cream dessert was also excellent.

                                                                            I thought the har gow was a little iffy. The filling was excellent but the wrapper was gummy and didn't hold together well enough to get them out of the basket whole.

                                                                            On the whole, however, it was excellent, and there were some interesting dishes I hadn't tried before, which made it a lot of fun.

                                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                              BokChoi RE: Jacquilynne Oct 10, 2008 07:56 PM

                                                                              Jacquilynne, thanks for your thoughts as well. I was not a fan of the shrimp mousse tempura the time I had it, I don't think I have a photo either, but it was not the most eye-pleasing dish. I too believe their egg tarts are some of the best in Toronto, hands down. Two-bite egg tarts, as I like to call them.
                                                                              Their wrappers are often the best in the city, sorry to hear they were a bit off that day. I went later that day and found it quite firm and bouncy - but each plate is steamed individually, so perhaps yours was left a bit too long in the steamer.

                                                                              Glad to hear your overall impressions were favourable. I am happy the chowmeet was a success and that you guys enjoyed yourself at Grand. Thanks for giving it a try. I was a bit stressed to hear the outcome. I hope it did not disappoint!

                                                                              Cheers and Happy Eating!

                                                                              1. re: Jacquilynne
                                                                                t
                                                                                tksh RE: Jacquilynne Oct 10, 2008 09:27 PM

                                                                                Wow, I might want to revisit Grand sometime and try their dumplings again. I had the complete opposite of everyone's experience when I went: awesomely thin, delicate and moist skin but very dry and bland fillings. Maybe I just went in on a very bad day.

                                                                                The egg tarts are definitely a winner, just too bad they're so small.

                                                                                1. re: tksh
                                                                                  BokChoi RE: tksh Nov 7, 2008 05:42 AM

                                                                                  tksh, I would have to warn you that Grand is definitely more subtle than many other dim sum places around Toronto. Hopefully it does not translate to 'bland' though, but do try it again. I tried a few new dishes on my most recent visit and some were winners, some losers. Please see review below.

                                                                              2. re: fickle
                                                                                BokChoi RE: fickle Oct 10, 2008 07:52 PM

                                                                                Thanks for the thorough review, fickle. I am happy that you enjoyed the meal and will be returning! Good to hear that it was satisfying. Which spare ribs dish did you try? Was it the one set atop a bed of noodles? I actually enjoyed that dish quite a lot - it had a nice preserved vegetable sauce on top - is that the one?
                                                                                I am sorry, I just reread your post - the spareribs were the black bean ones - I have actually never had this dish. Good thing too, it seems!

                                                                                Sad to hear that the BBQ pork bun was a touch of a let down. I have always found it stellar! Especially the texture of the meat inside, the sauce, as well as the fantastic bun around it.

                                                                                But glad the overall experience was a positive one.

                                                                            2. re: T Long
                                                                              h
                                                                              herbs go karts RE: T Long Oct 5, 2008 06:31 PM

                                                                              hi T, yes that just my remembering Dad dragging us around to eat dim sum - not memories of Grand from long ago.

                                                                              They were not very busy during our visit. Perhaps 10 tables.

                                                                              I do agree with skyline that as far as upper-end dining goes, LWH is superior in terms of ambience, atmosphere and polish - but for me Grand is competitive with LWH on the dim sum itself. And for the price quite exceptional I think.

                                                                              They're just in a really off-beat location.

                                                                              1. re: herbs go karts
                                                                                BokChoi RE: herbs go karts Oct 5, 2008 06:48 PM

                                                                                herbs_go_kart, glad you agree that the dim sum is quite competitive with LWH. Hoping that others will also be willing to give it a try!

                                                                                Cheers

                                                                                1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                  skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Oct 5, 2008 06:55 PM

                                                                                  Yes, in overall Lai Wah Heen 's dim sum has better quality.

                                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                    Charles Yu RE: skylineR33 Oct 5, 2008 08:02 PM

                                                                                    After reading so many exchanges pertaining to Grand vs Casa Imperial vs Casa victoria vs LWH, may be I'll chip in my quick two cents worth.

                                                                                    IMO, in order to stand out, dim sum chefs of all the aforementioned four places all tried to introduce 'noveau/fusion' items to the traditional mix. ( CV being the least adventurous ) As such, it is hard to compare since their 'creations' are kind of different. However, whether I am having dim sum in Vancouver, Toronto, Hong Kong or Canton, I always use the quality of the traditional ' Har Gow " as a measuring yardstick for dim sum quality of an establishment. I want to see the skin of the morsel to be ultra thin and yet has the strength and dexterity to hold the filling when being picked up by chop sticks. The skin texture has to be a bit elastic and chewy. As for the filling, I would like to see crispy/crunchy fresh 'whole' prawns being use not chopped up ones. Next come the hard part ( since I only had it a few times in Hong Kong ) and that is, I'd like to see some juice amongst the filling not the 'dry won-ton filling' style. Finally, the steaming time has to be spot-on to prevent over-cooking and disintegrating/breakage of the skin. With this as an evaluation criteria, I would say only LWH manage to satisfy this test. The rest were fairly OK with Casa Victoria's 'giant golf ball size' version being my least favourite.

                                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                      skylineR33 RE: Charles Yu Oct 5, 2008 09:23 PM

                                                                                      Yes, it is really hard to find a good and refined Har Gow in Toronto. With my experience, Casa Imperial is the best in it's family of restaurants, with that being said, they also have big Har Gow. Lai Wah Heen's Har Gow is more traditional and refined as you mentioned.

                                                                                      If I have to compare the noveau items, who in Toronto can beat Lai Wah Heen's specialty/innovation item list ? They are all very nicely prepared.

                                                                                      http://www.metropolitan.com/menus/lwh...

                                                                                      1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                        T Long RE: Charles Yu Oct 6, 2008 05:32 AM

                                                                                        Charles: Are Lai Toi Heen and Empire Court (inside Hilton @ Hwy 7 & Warden) in the mix with your aformentioned big 4 or do you think they are a step below? Pricewise, I think these together may be the top 6 in the GTA. I like your use of Har Gow as a reference point. A good friend of mine in Vancouver uses BBQ buns (Cha Sui Bow?) as his reference point when comparing food quality of Dim Sum restaurants.

                                                                                        1. re: T Long
                                                                                          Charles Yu RE: T Long Oct 6, 2008 05:45 AM

                                                                                          Been to Empire court only once. Service and atmosphere very good. Foodwise only on the OK side. IMO, paying premium for the decor not the food. Furthermore, in my case, Full House is much closer to my place. As for LTH, never been for dim sum lunch. Sorry, no input there!

                                                                                        2. re: Charles Yu
                                                                                          BokChoi RE: Charles Yu Oct 6, 2008 05:52 AM

                                                                                          Though I am not a huge fan of Har Gow's - not a shrimp fan - I would have to say that your description almost perfectly describes Grand's version, so I am a bit confused. Though I would agree it does not have a significant amount of 'juice', it was not dry in the least - more moist I would say. They do use a 'whole' prawn as well, and IMO it definitely holds its own against LWH. I think it is a great alternative to LWH, and at a significant discount. It is definitely in a different class from the Casa chain from my experience.

                                                                                          I must emphasize that LWH and Grand are both excellent dim sum restaurants and I feel lucky to be able to have two great options in our great city.

                                                                                          Cheers!

                                                                                          1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                            skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Oct 6, 2008 12:39 PM

                                                                                            I prefer Casa Imperial's Har Gow over Grand's, it is more juicy. I would put LWH in a different class than the rest, Grand and Casa Imperial in the same class as I can find certain item better than each other in these two restaurants. Evironment wise, for sure I prefer Casa Imperial, it is like dead in Grand, in which Casa is a bright clean restaurant, with its high ceiling and atmosphere, it is more suitable for happy gathering Sunday morning dim sum selection.

                                                                            3. re: herbs go karts
                                                                              jennjen18 RE: herbs go karts Oct 4, 2008 06:42 AM

                                                                              Okay, that would irk me too, if they just put the sauces on the table and make you have them... That's one thing that I totally do not like, and thought that Toronto would never have.... (and only Hong Kong). Would that maybe be why people dont frequent this restaurant as much? Because of these inconvenient charges?

                                                                              1. re: herbs go karts
                                                                                BokChoi RE: herbs go karts Oct 4, 2008 07:14 AM

                                                                                Herbs go karts, I would agree, the condiment charge always upset me as well. When I used to ask them about it, they would say "But the tea is free!" and I would accept that, because I know many higher-end dim sum places would charge for their teas. For instance, if you eat in the 'tea room' in Ruby, they would add a surcharge of about $1.50 as they serve higher quality teas in that room. I do agree that Grand's tea is of higher quality, but still. Then a few times I would order dishes that did not even come with condiments, or I would ask them to take away the mustard/hot sauce and I would STILL get the charge. Nowadays I do not even drink tea, so this charge used to get me hot and bothered under the collar, but I have gotten used to it. Now that you bring it up again.... it'll take me a while to forget. I guess if it bothers me so much, I should probably ask them again WHY they have to make this separate charge? But then again, they could just go and increase the prices of their dim sum to absorb this charge, which I would not prefer.

                                                                                Glad you had a great time there. I too agree that they are right up there with LWH and for an excellent price. I hope they remain in this price range. Thanks for the review. The green tea paste was never a favourite of mine. I actually found it too gummy and 'pasty'. It was dense and quite oily. I didn't take a picture of it from the time I ordered it last, and never ordered it again. Thanks for the reminder that I should not try it again just to get a photo.

                                                                                Cheers!

                                                                                1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                  jennjen18 RE: BokChoi Oct 5, 2008 08:18 PM

                                                                                  Ok wait wait wait... so they charge these condiments by the condiment plate?? ... Hmm, this is getting a bit more bothersome as I would like .. so how does this work? And how much is each condiment?? How much more should I expect to pay?

                                                                                  1. re: jennjen18
                                                                                    BokChoi RE: jennjen18 Oct 6, 2008 05:46 AM

                                                                                    jennjen18 - they just charge $1.50 for the table for the 'condiments'. It is just like a 'seating fee' that you would see in HK, or Europe. It substitutes the 'tea charge' often seen on bills from other Chinese restos. Really, it should not deter you from trying it, as you are still getting fabulous dim sum at a good price.

                                                                                    Cheers!

                                                                                    1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                      Food Tourist RE: BokChoi Oct 18, 2008 05:40 PM

                                                                                      As I stated above, we were charged $4 for "tea/condiment" on the final bill and there were only 2 of us. We didn't try to ask about it, just accepted it and paid. I hope they didn't take advantage of us.

                                                                                      1. re: Food Tourist
                                                                                        BokChoi RE: Food Tourist Oct 21, 2008 08:23 AM

                                                                                        Hi Food Tourist,

                                                                                        You may be correct. I was upset about it at the start as well, but over the years, I have failed to make note of it on my bills when I pay. Thanks for the correction.

                                                                              2. mogo RE: BokChoi Oct 9, 2008 10:12 PM

                                                                                This post brings me great happiness. Here I thought the west side was a dim sum wasteland. Who'd-a thunk it'd be hiding out by the airport. I will yum cha forthwith.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: mogo
                                                                                  BokChoi RE: mogo Oct 10, 2008 06:24 AM

                                                                                  Good to hear you stumbled upon this thread then, mogo. Do report back! I hope you enjoy the food as much as I do.

                                                                                  Cheers

                                                                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                    mogo RE: BokChoi Oct 25, 2008 11:42 PM

                                                                                    So I finally went to the Grand! About 60% of the tables were full when I went -- it's actually kind of nice to be in a less hectic environment. Any other place would be packed to the rafters during prime dim sum hours. Anyway, everything was very good: the siu mai was identifiably porky, lacking filler and MSG. Chicken feet were very tasty -- usually I don't like them, but these were a happy exception. Deep fried squid cooked just right, with a touch of curry (which gives it extra points in my book). The Cuttlefish mousse cakes had a delightful texture. There were also some excellent dumplings with snow peas in soup, and the lotus leaf wrapped sticky rice was a real winner.

                                                                                    I haven't eaten at Lai Wah Heen or many other dim sum places out in the east end, so I don't know how it compares, but I CAN say that what I had at Grand was really, REALLY good. And that there is nothing out in the west side of Toronto that remotely resembles it. I can definitely see why you drive across the city for this stuff, BokChoi!

                                                                                    1. re: mogo
                                                                                      BokChoi RE: mogo Oct 26, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                                                      Hi mogo,

                                                                                      Glad to hear you enjoyed your dining experience at Grand. Thanks for writing back about what you enjoyed as well! I hope it will help people sort through which dishes are winners, so that more people will have stellar experiences there.

                                                                                      For the price, I have not found anything that can match Grand (Cantonese fare). It was amazing each time for me. I cannot wait for them to change their menu, so that I can try something new and report back. If you have a chance to go back, do try some of the other dishes on my recommended list - I am sure you won't be disappointed!

                                                                                      Cheers

                                                                                2. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Nov 7, 2008 05:45 AM

                                                                                  Went back recently and ordered their BBQ Duck & Noodle combo. Delicate and crisp is what I have to say about the skin on the duck. Fishy and very disappointing (unfortunately) is how I would have to rate the noodle soup broth. The noodles were overdone as well, unfortunately. I would not recommend the noodle soup, but would highly recommend their BBQ duck.
                                                                                  The photo speaks for itself: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                  Noodle Soup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                  Another winning dish was their wonderful honey glazed spareribs. Sweet, crunchy and dry. The marmalade used was wonderful.

                                                                                  spareribs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                  Cheers!

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                    BokChoi RE: BokChoi Nov 16, 2008 05:46 AM

                                                                                    Went back to Grand recently and tried a couple of new dishes including a wok-fried diced tenderloin beef with black been sauce. Not bad, but not too great either. A generous portioning, but the texture was a bit too soft for me (reminds me of tenderizer usage?) and the flavour depth was just not there. I believe they need to add a bit more 'heat' to the dish. I dipped the pieces in the XO sauce that came with the turnip cake and that improved the taste immensely.
                                                                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                    Siu Loong Bao (Shanghainese Dumplings) were also sampled. I had them a while back, but I believe this time, improvements were made. The cost is also less per piece. It was quite sweet and did not have an overpoweringly 'porky' flavour, which was nice. Dried conpoy was also quite present. Only thing missing was the 'soup'. Otherwise, it would have been a great version. It was moist, but I prefer it to be brothy inside.

                                                                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                    Closeup: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                    The Lao Saa Bao was also nice (runny custard filling). It had a nice 'grainy' texture, and was sweet by just the perfect amount. It was also very runny, which was always appreciated. Similar to the Dragon Dynasty version, which up to now, was my favourite version. I still think they rank neck-and-neck in my book.
                                                                                    Lao Saa Bao: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                    During dinner, they also serve a wonderful pear puff dessert with their set menus. They look just like real pears and they are filled with dark Lotus Seed Paste. Amazing. The stem is achieved with a taro root 'twig'. I really hope they can add this to their regular dim sum menu.

                                                                                    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                    Inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                    CHeers!

                                                                                  2. a
                                                                                    afici0nad0 RE: BokChoi Dec 14, 2008 09:54 PM

                                                                                    for those who have made the visit recently, how was their service (lunch or dinner)? indicative of their price point?

                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: afici0nad0
                                                                                      BokChoi RE: afici0nad0 Dec 15, 2008 03:15 AM

                                                                                      I can only comment about the lunch service as I have not been for quite some time for dinner.

                                                                                      That said, I have found them to be the most consistently performing dim sum restaurant in the city. Given the quality and the price point, I would be hard-pressed to find any other restaurant that comes close to delivering such value. Their service can be a touch spotty at times, as noted by some others, but if they are busy and you need their attention, a bit of hand raising will always do the trick. Their service is amongst the best for Chinese restaurants in Toronto. They are not LWH, but one has to consider the price when comparing service quality as well. I have found them to be much better than Casa Imperial (try getting a table there if you are not a regular), but a touch less doting than Empire Court (but on the occasions I have gone to Empire, the restaurant was almost always empty). Yang's service is pretty good, but they've only been open for about a month so it's tough to say if they can uphold the standard.

                                                                                      Cheers!

                                                                                      Cheers!

                                                                                      1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        tksh RE: BokChoi Dec 15, 2008 04:54 PM

                                                                                        What's your take on Yang in comparison to Grand?

                                                                                        Their dim sum menu reminds me of Grand quite a bit and my hit-miss rate at Yang's was about the same and around the same price. Found their service staff to be smarter (overhead the floor manager saying he just came over from another 'high end' canto restaurant).

                                                                                        1. re: tksh
                                                                                          Charles Yu RE: tksh Dec 15, 2008 05:36 PM

                                                                                          Just had another Dim Sum lunch at Yang's today. Quality has slipped a bit. eg., Chicken feet not tender enough, B-B-Q pork buns' filling has a slightly greasy aroma. Rest of DS were OK!

                                                                                          1. re: tksh
                                                                                            BokChoi RE: tksh Dec 15, 2008 07:23 PM

                                                                                            tksh,

                                                                                            I found that their menu read like a hybrid between Grand/Empire Court and Casa Imperial, with CI being the largest influence. The tastes were similar to Casa IMO because they were quite strong. I prefer a slightly more subtle taste (Grand), so I would rank this place a touch behind Grand. The dumpling wrappers here are quite good, though their rice noodle roll was just okay. I cannot fairly evaluate Yang's because I went with a dining companion that ordered everything shrimp (3 out of 6 dishes) and I generally do not enjoy shrimps. DC ordered 4 out of 6 dishes. I found I did not enjoy the dishes ordered by said DC compared to the dishes that intrigued me. The shrimps were quite good though and definitely above average in quality, taste, size and texture. I plan to head back before I render my final decision about this place. It seems promising. Also, I find that places try MUCH harder in their first few months than after the opening buzz has died down. I also know it is a habit of many Chinese restaurants to have a touring chef team that sweeps into a kitchen when it first opens to establish a good reputation and moves on after their contract ends. I am not saying that they employ this tactic, but I keep all of this in mind when I dine.

                                                                                            Trust me, when I first tried Grand 2 years ago, their service was top-notch and rivaled some of the better high-end restos in Toronto (pulling out the chairs for the ladies, folding napkins after you vacate your seat each and every time, a team of two delivering each dish with one holding the serving tray, while the other places it on the table, constant monitoring of tea temperature, etc.). They have slipped quite a bit (turnover of staff), but I still think they're solid compared to others in the same price category. I have only found a few misses in their dishes and have so many favourites to choose from now after going for 2 years.

                                                                                            Price-wise, I found Yang's to be much pricier than Grand. They have excellent ingredients though as a result, including the usage of a lot of abalone. We ordered 6 dishes and it came out to about $40. I was hungry after a few hours. Granted, I ordered a lot of SP and XL items.

                                                                                            And as for the manager from another 'high end' canto restaurant, I do know that I saw one of the former managers at one of my other favourite restaurants Ruby working on the floor at Yang's. He was a bit shocked to see me there because I guess we were both 'cheating' on Ruby. Service was good when I went. Staff was friendly.

                                                                                            Either way, as Charles has just mentioned they may already be slipping. I think it's hard to judge a newly opened restaurant. I'll get back to you as soon as I pay them another visit.

                                                                                            Cheers!

                                                                                            1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                              skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Dec 15, 2008 08:07 PM

                                                                                              To be fair, one can also have a much cheaper dim sum at Yang than Grand, it really depends on what one orders.

                                                                                              Grand : S=$3.30 M=$4.80 L=$5.50
                                                                                              Yang's: S=$2.80 M=$3.80 L=$4.80

                                                                                              How's the abalone dim sum at Yang's? Do they use dried abalone or fresh abalone ?

                                                                                              1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                                BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Dec 17, 2008 08:29 AM

                                                                                                I guess I go more with a 'gut feeling' - is my gut full, or does it still feel hungry after spending $20? Not too scientific, I know.

                                                                                                Also, I don't base prices only on the "S/M/L/XL/SP" prices, as each restaurant tends to categorize different items in different price categories. ie one may classify their rice noodle roll/cheung fun as a "M", while another would classify it as a "L".

                                                                                                But I'd like to know your thoughts too once you give it a try. I would think the abalone is similar to one that you may have sampled during dinner - I doubt they would go through the laborious process of reconstituting/preparing several types of abalone for each type of dish. I think it would be rather a fine-tuning of the quantity presented. But I could be wrong. Has anyone tried both their dinner and dim sum yet and can comment on the similarities?

                                                                                                1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                  skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2008 08:54 AM

                                                                                                  Of course one will still feel hungry when ordering only the SP items with like $20 dollars. I find S/M/L/XL/SP a good indicator to show how expensive the dim sum is at the restaurant, most of the time if not always, the pricing category for rice noodle roll is standard especially at high end ones, beef rice roll is M and shrimp rice roll is L. I doubt it is any different at Yangs and Grand.

                                                                                                  Also FYI, there are many different types of abalone with hugh price differences and most of the time, the one used in dim sum is different from the one used in dinner. One really need to have the knowledge to justify the high cost of it. Just like the shark fin in the seafood shark fin soup dumpling, many restaurants use a lower end shark fin for it.

                                                                                                  1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                                    BokChoi RE: skylineR33 Dec 17, 2008 09:28 AM

                                                                                                    I think everyone is aware that there are many types of abalone. Hence why I asked the opinion of those that have eaten both Dinner and Lunch there. Let's see what they have to report back. No point trying to infer and argue without any facts.

                                                                                                    And if I must further discuss the price issue, I'd also want to draw attention to the weighted average price of their dishes as another measure of the relative price point of a resto (# of dishes in S category on the menu, # of dishes in M, etc.). But that's just getting way too technical.

                                                                                                    Either way, I was trying to assist another CHer by providing my opinion on the limited amount that I sampled that one visit. I had no intention of going into too much detail, as I had only visited them once and cannot fairly judge them, as I had previously stated.

                                                                                                    1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                      skylineR33 RE: BokChoi Dec 17, 2008 09:36 AM

                                                                                                      Ok, cool, I just point it out because I thought you are not even aware of whether it is fresh or dried abalone as in my original question, when you mentioned there are abalone dim sum at Yangs. And it is a fact that most restaurants use different abalone in their dim sum from their dinner.

                                                                                                      I don't know how to calculate weigthed above, all I know is the price of L at Yangs' = M at Grand, and S/M/L are the majority in a dim sum list.

                                                                                                      Another example is in Grand's dim sum - Deep fried Tofu with abalone, the abalone used are not the same as the one used in dinner.

                                                                                              2. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                t
                                                                                                tksh RE: BokChoi Dec 16, 2008 06:27 PM

                                                                                                Yes, good points on the big "first few months top show" disclaimer. They have a small floor though and only one VIP room so there's some hope that out of sheer competition and need to survive, they'll maintain their quality. I'm not sure if Toronto can support /that/ many high end dim sum places, especially in such a gloom economy.

                                                                                                Grand is a lot further than Yang's so if they can keep up the quality, that's a big advantage over Grand for me and I'm sure for a good number of others on this board as well.

                                                                                                Grand's egg tarts and BBQ pork buns were definitely better. Yang's beef tendons were damn good though.

                                                                                                1. re: tksh
                                                                                                  BokChoi RE: tksh Dec 17, 2008 08:31 AM

                                                                                                  Yes, it is quite a small restaurant, isn't it? I should try the tendons on my next visit. I plan to go again next week. Any other recommendations for dishes to try?

                                                                                                  As for Grand, it's still THE place to go for me for my weekly fix. The value makes me smile after every meal. The tastes? Right up my alley. Nice a quiet too, though I have noticed they're almost becoming full nowadays... quite shocking. I wonder if I'll have to start making reservations one day.

                                                                                                  Cheers!

                                                                                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                    t
                                                                                                    tksh RE: BokChoi Dec 18, 2008 03:07 PM

                                                                                                    Something like twenty small tables or a dozen banquet size tables is my guess. (Casa Victoria seems to have double that many tables doing banquet + another dozen tables for 'normal' diners every weekend!). Definitely very small restaurant, wonder how that affects their margin and their business strategy. Grand isn't large either but at least they have their CX catering gig to support them.

                                                                                                    Other than the beef tendons, the items I tried were decent but nothing spectacular except for the rice noodles: I actually thought the shrimps used in their noodles were oversized and didn't go well. The taro dumplings btw, look nice, smell nice but is sadly too weak on the taro taste.

                                                                                                    1. re: tksh
                                                                                                      BokChoi RE: tksh Dec 18, 2008 07:06 PM

                                                                                                      I do love taro anything, but I find it's hard to find consistent good quality taro in this city's dim sum. Too bad. Have not tried Casa Victoria yet - what are your thoughts on it?

                                                                                            2. re: BokChoi
                                                                                              a
                                                                                              afici0nad0 RE: BokChoi Dec 16, 2008 08:40 PM

                                                                                              service consistency is all i'm looking for during dim sum hours. whether good or bad, at least i'll know what to expect.

                                                                                              in any case, grand will be a dim sum spot i will definitely visit.

                                                                                              1. re: afici0nad0
                                                                                                BokChoi RE: afici0nad0 Dec 17, 2008 08:34 AM

                                                                                                Ahh, yes, I understand. They are very competent and kind. Quite friendly and most of them do speak English (which is a plus, as most dim sum places employ mainly Mandarin- or Cantonese-only speaking employees). They sometimes get overwhelmed when it gets a bit busy (as it has been as of late), but if you wave your hand, they will rush over and assist you. They are all very nice.

                                                                                                I hope you have a pleasant visit and do report back once you try it.

                                                                                                Cheers!

                                                                                          2. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Dec 15, 2008 07:48 PM

                                                                                            A few additional winning dishes include their honey spareribs. The sticky, sweet coating of honey and marmalade nicely offsets the slight saltiness inherent in the pork. The crispy texture of the fried spareribs is exceptional. They are masters of deep-frying.

                                                                                            Honey spareribs: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                            Another winner is their new sticky rice dish in a bamboo box. The box is just for presentation (it isn't steamed in it by any means). The texture of the sticky rice is perfect, and there is a touch of crust on the 'burnt' pieces, which is always a plus in my book. There is lap cheung, chestnut pieces, dried shrimp and mushroom dotting the splendid rice. I would definitely order this dish again ($10.99).

                                                                                            Sticky Rice: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                            You can really see the quality of the ingredients and execution in something as simple as this sesame puff filled with BBQ duckling and pine nuts: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . The ingredients are diced finely, but large enough to lend texture, and allow for differentiation of flavours. The frying is amazing, which leads to the puffed airy lightness of the pastry. For about $20 per person, you leave completely satiated.

                                                                                            Cheers and Happy Eating!

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                              w
                                                                                              Westwardho RE: BokChoi Dec 19, 2008 07:50 AM

                                                                                              Sorry. I know this is a little off topic, but I am a big Grand fan myself and need a little help. First, I was at Pearl at Queen's Quay yesterday. I was pretty impressed with everything that we ate. (And we ate EVERYTHING). I was out looking for Tempo the other day. THere is no website and I read that it was on Vic Park north of Finch. I could not locate it. I ended up at what was formerly New World, which is called Empire this week - it was sufficient for $2 dim sum, but not what I was looking for because I was all the way out in Scarborough and wanted something good. Does anyone have an address for Tempo?

                                                                                              1. re: Westwardho
                                                                                                T Long RE: Westwardho Dec 19, 2008 09:22 AM

                                                                                                Have not heard about a restaurant called Tempo in that area, although the Empire place which you went to is at the corner of Vic Park and Tempo. If you were in that area, Casa Imperial which has been mentioned in this string is just around the corner at Warden and Steeles....some people think its an OK place.

                                                                                                1. re: Westwardho
                                                                                                  Food Tourist RE: Westwardho Feb 3, 2009 06:46 AM

                                                                                                  Has anyone else had such a great experience at Pearl Harbourfront lately? I want it to be good because I love having a lake view but have been reluctant to try it in case it is overpriced.

                                                                                                  We had yet another family dinner at Grand very recently, and although I didn't love the peking duck (why are their pancake/wraps so deplorable?) and most of our dishes were decent but not excellent, my family seemed happy enough. However, I would definitely not return for dinner. The restaurant is always mostly empty even on a Saturday night. The fire alarm in the hotel disturbed over half of our time there with no compensation or apology from the wait staff though that in itself wouldn't matter if food was memorable.

                                                                                                  I had pretty good dim sum at Rol San on one of its busiest Sundays very recently. Definitely would choose them over Grand next time I crave dim sum.

                                                                                                  1. re: Food Tourist
                                                                                                    Full tummy RE: Food Tourist Feb 3, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                                                                    I had dim sum at Pearl a month or so ago. We were a group of six, and we tried many things, all delicious. We ordered a stir-fry veggie mixed plate, not sure what it's called, because we just pointed as it passed by. It was exceptionally fresh, with a lovely mixture of peppers, mushrooms, lotus root, etc. Of course, because it's cart service (though you can order, as well) you have to watch for things that have been on carts a little too long, for example, when they're trying to sell the last one or two plates, and the food is cold.

                                                                                                    1. re: Food Tourist
                                                                                                      Food Tourist RE: Food Tourist Oct 22, 2009 01:29 PM

                                                                                                      The fire alarm went off again today 3 separate times over the lunch hour. Doubletree by Hilton had better resolve their issues - it did more than disturb everyone's peace of mind, it ruined an important meeting.

                                                                                                2. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Apr 15, 2009 10:15 AM

                                                                                                  I recently had dinner there and was very impressed, to say the least. I will have a longer report later. One dish that stood out was their Orange Beef. Normally, I would have never ordered such an ordinary sounding dish, but this version came highly recommended by the manager. It was exceptionally well fried - dry, crisp, light. The sauce was not sickly sweet, and had a beautiful bitterness from the zest of the orange. The sauce was not 'prepackaged' fast food sweet and sour sauce, and tasted rather of marmalade. It was outstanding and would be enough to drag me back to the West end for dinner. It is not much to look at, but the taste was phenomenal.

                                                                                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                  1. Paulustrious RE: BokChoi May 16, 2009 06:58 AM

                                                                                                    Just adding a link...

                                                                                                    http://www.grandchinesecuisine.com/in...

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Paulustrious
                                                                                                      red dragon RE: Paulustrious May 16, 2009 04:11 PM

                                                                                                      Thanks for the link!

                                                                                                    2. s
                                                                                                      SocksManly RE: BokChoi May 28, 2009 10:34 PM

                                                                                                      Going tomorrow.. Is Friday part of their "weekend" menu?

                                                                                                      I could literally walk there from where I live... but I couldn't walk home. ;)

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: SocksManly
                                                                                                        BokChoi RE: SocksManly Jul 30, 2009 12:09 PM

                                                                                                        SocksManly, sorry for the delay in response (as you've already probably gone and come back numerous times by now ... ), but Friday is not part of the weekend menu.

                                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                                        pyatachok RE: BokChoi Sep 11, 2009 10:45 AM

                                                                                                        Sorry, guys, to disappoint you all who are raving about Grand Chinese Cuisine, but our experience there was absolutely mediocre.

                                                                                                        FOOD: We ordered Har Gau, Grand Scallop dumpling, Shark’s fin & seafood dumpling in chicken broth, Steamed chicken feet, Steamed dumpling with mushrooms and corn, Chicken & shitake mushroom clear dumpling, Prawn chive & corn rice roll, Minced beef rice roll, Deep fried lobster roll with yogurt sauce, Baked cod fish pastry in thousand layers, and Red bean paste pancakes with ice cream.
                                                                                                        Nothing from all these dishes impressed us at all. On the opposite, the quality of their dough was in the lowest level we ever tasted. It was breaking at the slightest touch of the chop sticks. Yogurt with lobster rolls was out of the place completely. Our impression was that they are trying to invent asian/europian fusion but all their “tries” were failing. Just a nonsense experience for us. Plus half of the dishes mentioned in your post which we‘d like to taste where not in the menu.

                                                                                                        SERVICE: Our waiter was a funny Guy. He tried to limit the number of orders we would like to do at the same time trying to impose his personal likes even when wasn’t asked about his opinion. His attitude was: those white people do not understand anything in dim sum cuisine so do as I tell you. After a little while he lost an interest in us completely which coursed more waiting time for everything( dishes, check, drinks…) Their hostess started our experience with making us wait till she finishes whatever she was doing without even apology, and finished it with forgetting (even after being reminded) to stamp our parking tickets. So all together it didn’t add to impression about this place.

                                                                                                        AMBIENCE: This is the only thing that was positive.

                                                                                                        In conclusion I’d like to say that a big part of our trip to Toronto was devoted to Chinese (particularly dim sum) cuisine. We are big fans of this cuisine and after reading your posts had big hopes to find some outstanding taste experiences. Unfortunately we found only one so far and it wasn’t Grand CC (though we made our trip time longer in order to attend it). From all of our experiences Flushing, NY and San Francisco, CA still share the 1st place of quality and inventiveness of the dim sum cuisine in North American continent.

                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: pyatachok
                                                                                                          skylineR33 RE: pyatachok Sep 11, 2009 10:59 AM

                                                                                                          I am sorry for your experience, but just want to tell you Grand is nowhere close to the best chinese/cantonese food Toronto offers. There are various post on this board and even in this thread give negative review to Grand. Grand is good a few years ago but definitely pass its' prime time. Well, if a big part of your trip to Toronto is devoted to Chinese (particularly dim sum) cuisine, maybe you should do better research next time, where else have you visit in your trip ?

                                                                                                          1. re: skylineR33
                                                                                                            p
                                                                                                            pyatachok RE: skylineR33 Sep 11, 2009 01:36 PM

                                                                                                            We didn't go to LWH because they said it's the same as Grand but more expensive, so we didn't want to spend money for the same meal. But we went to Dynasty next to ROM and it was quite good but not outstanding ether. What impressed us the most from chinese cuisine it's actually the hole-in-the-wall Mather's Dumpling place. We hope to visit Toronto again and have a better luck, but thank you for concolation responce :).

                                                                                                            1. re: pyatachok
                                                                                                              skylineR33 RE: pyatachok Sep 11, 2009 03:39 PM

                                                                                                              LWH is actually another level up from Grand, with a more expensive price to pay, but this is where you go for the best dim sum in Toronto, this has been mentioned numerous times on this board. Probably your research of where to go for Chinese food in Toronto is from somewhere else and not from this board ? If you are serious about chinese food, try to make the effect to visit some of the better ones in Richmond Hill/Scarborough area in your next trip.

                                                                                                        2. BokChoi RE: BokChoi Feb 4, 2010 06:23 PM

                                                                                                          Managed to try a few more dishes during the holidays so I thought I'd share my thoughts!

                                                                                                          Fried stuffed eggplant: This was a very nice take on an old dim sum classic. They shaped it like a maki roll, and laid it on the plate like a slithering snake. The fry job was really good; dry, crispy and not too much batter. The stuffing was well flavoured, and not too salty. It was a nice contrast against the subtly sweet eggplant. The sauce was not overpowering, nor was it overly salty. This was a nice new addition to the menu/selection:
                                                                                                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          Eel seems to be their big thing with the newest version of the menu. They had a nice deep-fried pocket filled with eel. I enjoyed it. As you can see, the batter is light and crisp. The batter consistency reminds me of the pork or duck-stuffed taro dim sum dish. Overall, another strong entry. Not one of my favourite dishes, but I would say I wasn't disappointed: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          A new dumpling was added to the menu. I don't immediately recall the name of it, but I would say it was probably the weakest dumpling they have on the menu. I'll try to get the name next time: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          This is the second new eel dish. This was an eel maki; made with Chinese sticky rice. The eel was sweet, the sauce slightly salty, and the sticky rice sweet of course. It was fun, though I wouldn't say it was a strong dish. I found the rice to be too overwhelming due to the sheer volume of rice (ratio of rice to eel was too high). The rice paper wrapping was a pretty touch though: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          A lotus leaf wrapped doughy 'dumpling' was another new dish. It reminded me a lot of my favourite duck and pine nut puff ball, but without the sesame coating, and not deep fried (steamed in lotus leaf instead). Was I a huge fan? No, I would have to say that I didn't appreciate the consistency of the dough: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                                          Inside: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          A classic superior dumpling in soup ('Goon tong gau'): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . Better than average, that's for sure.

                                                                                                          This stuffed pepper dish with noodles was a huge failure. It was honestly pretty gross. The noodles were soaked with a vinegar-y sesame dressing (it reminded me of the cold dressing on cold soba noodles), and the texture of the noodles were soggy. I couldn't bare to finish it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          Free during the New Year's (compliments of the chef for diners) was this jelly dessert. I would have to say that it was pretty, but the taste fell flat for me. The green 'mint' flavoured jelly reminded me too much of listerine (this is not what I want to think about when I'm eating dessert). The berry one was kind of bland. Overall, the jellies were too stiffened with too much gelatin. However, it was free. So free = good :
                                                                                                          )http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          And finally - dessert

                                                                                                          Deep fried egg custard balls is another favourite dessert of mine: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . Picture 'lau sah bao', except deep fried. It's not quite as gooey, because it has less filling, but the crispy exterior is very satisfying. It provides a nice textural contrast.

                                                                                                          The black sesame balls have been on the menu for a while, but I never save enough room for it. And now I know what I've been missing. This is a delightful confection that is filled with sweet black sesame paste. When you bite into the crisp and fluffy exterior, the warm, melty black sesame oozes into your mouth. The black sesame is above average for fragrance, which is nice. The batter surrounding the puff is light and not at all oily. I would say this is a very strong dessert, especially if you (like me) love black sesame: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                                          Melty insides: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                          Cheers and happy eating!
                                                                                                          BokChoi

                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                            sasgirl RE: BokChoi Feb 5, 2010 06:21 AM

                                                                                                            Bokchoi, I would like to compliment you on your amazing reviews! I love looking at the pics and reading your very comprehensive review.

                                                                                                            My husband and I are huge fans of Grand because of you and go every chance that we get! It also doesn't hurt that it's only a 10 min drive from our home. My 2 year old son loves their sticky rice in lotus leaf! And the huge lobsters in the tank provide good entertainment for him as well. :)

                                                                                                            1. re: sasgirl
                                                                                                              l
                                                                                                              lilaki RE: sasgirl Feb 11, 2010 09:59 AM

                                                                                                              hi sasgirl,

                                                                                                              i'm also about 10 mins from grand and have been thinking about going ... can you give me an idea of the price range? i'd like to take the whole family ... so we'd have six adults and a toddler. thanks!

                                                                                                              1. re: lilaki
                                                                                                                sasgirl RE: lilaki Feb 12, 2010 06:24 AM

                                                                                                                Hi lilaki,

                                                                                                                Last time I went it was with 5 adults and we ate a lot of food! We all paid $25 per person. It depends on how much you order. You can check out their dim sum menu and prices on their website: http://www.grandchinesecuisine.com/in...

                                                                                                                I also attached a pic of our food on that visit.

                                                                                                                On the weekends, they have that menu plus 2 other menus with weekend specials. I'm actually going tomorrow with friends again so I will take pics and post a review.

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                1. re: sasgirl
                                                                                                                  BokChoi RE: sasgirl Feb 12, 2010 03:57 PM

                                                                                                                  Hi Sasgirl,

                                                                                                                  A couple of additional dish photos for you! I managed to try the pan-fried dried shrimp noodle roll. It was fine with a nice sear. Nothing mind-blowing. it was a shrimp noodle roll: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                                  Beef with green onion pancake roll was nice. I found that the crispness of the roll was lost because it was sitting too long after being 'jeened'/seared (in order to be turned into a roll). I wouldn't recommend it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                                                                                                  Nothing terrible, mind you, but not one of their strongest dishes.

                                                                                                                  And finally, their shrimp with corn rice roll. One of the best versions I've had in the city (I love how the corn makes this roll sweeter, and adds a crunch that none of the other rice rolls feature): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                                  Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you enjoyed Grand. I really hope they make it! They truly deserve your kind words.

                                                                                                                  Cheers & Happy Eating!
                                                                                                                  BokChoi

                                                                                                                  1. re: BokChoi
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                                                                                                                    tochowchick RE: BokChoi Feb 13, 2010 09:55 AM

                                                                                                                    Hey BokChoi,

                                                                                                                    Make sure you read Joanne Kates glowing review in today's G&M...she really likes it! Thanks to you, my chowpal and I have also enjoyed a couple of great dim sum meals there too!

                                                                                                                    1. re: tochowchick
                                                                                                                      BokChoi RE: tochowchick Feb 26, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                                                                      Great to hear they're getting the praise they deserve! And I'm happy to hear that I was able to help you discover them :) It's just so good there.

                                                                                                                      Here are some more photos:
                                                                                                                      Tofu wrapped fish maw + chicken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                                      Beef Noodle Roll: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                                                                                                                      I tried a couple of new dishes, but haven't loaded those photos yet. I'll post back later.

                                                                                                          2. elvisahmed RE: BokChoi Feb 15, 2010 09:06 AM

                                                                                                            The Globe and Mail did a nice review of this place on the weekend here is a link:
                                                                                                            http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: elvisahmed
                                                                                                              BokChoi RE: elvisahmed Feb 26, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                                                              That's great! Too bad she didn't get to try some of my favourite dishes. Seems like she tried most of the newer, and less impressive (IMO) dishes on the menu. Anyway, she liked it, and that's what counts.

                                                                                                            2. l
                                                                                                              lilaki RE: BokChoi Mar 1, 2010 06:09 AM

                                                                                                              hi hounds,

                                                                                                              does anyone know how long (approximately) dim sum may take for 6 people on a saturday? i'd like to get there at noon and be done by 1:30 - 2 pm. is that possible? (i've only ever been to dim sum with carts ... no clue if no-cart-service means that it takes longer?)

                                                                                                              thanks!

                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: lilaki
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                                                                                                                Yum2MyTum RE: lilaki Mar 1, 2010 06:40 AM

                                                                                                                Hi lilaki - this time frame is completely attainable. The fact that there are no carts does not lead to slow service: food is usually turned around promptly at Grand.

                                                                                                                1. re: Yum2MyTum
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                                                                                                                  lilaki RE: Yum2MyTum Mar 1, 2010 07:07 AM

                                                                                                                  hi yum2mytum,

                                                                                                                  excellent! thank you!

                                                                                                                2. re: lilaki
                                                                                                                  BokChoi RE: lilaki Mar 3, 2010 05:37 AM

                                                                                                                  Agree with Yum2MyTum - we usually don't take longer than 1.5-2 hrs. Good thing is that they also take reservations, unlike most dim sum places. (Usually, a reservation isn't required because they're not all too busy).

                                                                                                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                                                                                                    sasgirl RE: BokChoi Mar 3, 2010 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                    I've made a reservation the last couple of times I went but there were always plenty of empty tables when we get there.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sasgirl
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                                                                                                                      wontonfm RE: sasgirl Mar 4, 2010 04:01 AM

                                                                                                                      When I went we made a reservation for whatever time they open on Sunday. We got there and the place was empty. Within the next hour the place was packed.

                                                                                                                      WON
                                                                                                                      --------
                                                                                                                      http://whatsonmyplate.net

                                                                                                                  2. re: lilaki
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                                                                                                                    lilaki RE: lilaki Mar 4, 2010 06:22 AM

                                                                                                                    hi everyone,

                                                                                                                    thanks for all the info. i'm going on saturday ... we're taking hubby's family ... not the most refined palates but always up for an adventure. i don't think they've been to dim sum before so this will be fun! i'll try to write down what we order (father in law will likely snag the bill and i can't fight him for it ... even if it's just for record keeping) and report back!!

                                                                                                                    1. re: lilaki
                                                                                                                      sasgirl RE: lilaki Mar 4, 2010 07:15 AM

                                                                                                                      Enjoy! We also took friends who never had dim sum before and they loved it! I hope your hubby's family likes it too. They now have one big menu to pick the dim sum from instead of 3 separate menus.

                                                                                                                      1. re: lilaki
                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                        lilaki RE: lilaki Mar 6, 2010 05:54 PM

                                                                                                                        hi hounds,

                                                                                                                        thanks to all for the advice/info. and to bokchoi for the original review. we went today with hubby's family and had a great time. dim sum was a hit with the in laws! they loved it! we ordered way too much food though!

                                                                                                                        off the top of my head, here's what we ordered and my comments/thoughts (lack of comments doesn't mean the dish was bad):

                                                                                                                        - Pan fried turnip cake - loved the nori wrapper! This was a big hit.
                                                                                                                        - Grouper rice noodle with baby sow pea leaves - again beautiful presentation. Very tasty.
                                                                                                                        - Cod Baked Pastry in Thousand Layers - this was my absolute favourite dish of the entire meal - beautiful, flavourful, buttery pastry. i would go back just for this dish!
                                                                                                                        - Chicken and Shitake Dumpling - this was the first thing i tried and i remember thinking that it was excellent
                                                                                                                        - Steamed Chicken with taro, king mushroom, and fish maw wrapped with bean curd
                                                                                                                        - Deep Fried Lobster rolls with a sweet, light yogurt dipping sauce - very good - interesting combo with the strawberry yogurt.
                                                                                                                        - Pumpkin with pork bun
                                                                                                                        - Har Gow - hubby thought this was the best he'd ever had
                                                                                                                        - Siu Mai - ditto as the har gow
                                                                                                                        - BBQ Pork bun
                                                                                                                        - Deep Fried Squid
                                                                                                                        - Deep fried dumpling with shrimp and pork
                                                                                                                        - Prawn rice roll (with corn) - loved the crunch
                                                                                                                        - Shrimp Spring Rolls - not a huge fan of these but the in-laws wanted spring rolls
                                                                                                                        - Mushroom Rice Roll - good texture but a bit bland
                                                                                                                        - Grand Scallop Dumpling - i think these had cooled and were a bit tough by the time i ate one...probably would've been better if warmer
                                                                                                                        - Fried stuffed eggplant - wow, great presentation and taste!
                                                                                                                        - Pan-seared tofu layer folded and filled with assorted vegetables - yummy!
                                                                                                                        - Black sesame balls - the BEST sesame balls i'd ever had! totally not like those traditionally huge 'tennis balls' you get at other dim sum places

                                                                                                                        i'll definitely go back to grand. it was way better than the 'hole in the wall' dim sum places that i've been to and WAY less greasy and more flavourful. and as everyone confirmed, we were outta there in 90 minutes (maybe a little less). service was very good ... the servers took the time to explain what each dish was as it was brought out. overall, it was a very successful lunch!

                                                                                                                        1. re: lilaki
                                                                                                                          2
                                                                                                                          2k1sedan RE: lilaki Mar 8, 2010 09:01 AM

                                                                                                                          interested in going to the Grand
                                                                                                                          what is the best time to go there for dim sum to avoid line ups?
                                                                                                                          thanks

                                                                                                                          1. re: 2k1sedan
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                                                                                                                            lilaki RE: 2k1sedan Mar 9, 2010 06:15 AM

                                                                                                                            perhaps some of the other hounds can provide advice here ... we were there on saturday around noon ...it was not crowded when we arrived. they do take reservations though so you could do that if you want to avoid a line up for sure.

                                                                                                                    2. m
                                                                                                                      maurice benson RE: BokChoi Mar 7, 2010 06:08 AM

                                                                                                                      i would like to recommend ROL SAN as the #1 dim sum in Toronto downtown .The food is always hot no cart service,the staff are friendly The restaurant has two dining rooms one at the front and another at back past an open and very clean kitchen. feel free to walk past the first lineup and line up at the back room where the friendly manager gives you a # The line moves quickly

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: maurice benson
                                                                                                                        Chocaholic RE: maurice benson Mar 7, 2010 07:47 PM

                                                                                                                        Yes, thumbs up for Rol San dim sum downtown!!! Always hot and good!!!

                                                                                                                        1. re: maurice benson
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                                                                                                                          LTL RE: maurice benson Mar 8, 2010 09:13 AM

                                                                                                                          I love Rol San as a quick, affordable and reliable downtown option, but I put it in an entirely different category than Grand.

                                                                                                                          1. re: LTL
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                                                                                                                            wontonfm RE: LTL Mar 8, 2010 07:30 PM

                                                                                                                            completely agree. Grand is much more creative with their dim sum options and has higher end options (think foie gras) along with dim sum standards.

                                                                                                                            Think chip truck poutine vs. Bymark poutine.

                                                                                                                            WON
                                                                                                                            http://whatsonmyplate.net

                                                                                                                        2. y
                                                                                                                          yaddayadda RE: BokChoi Mar 21, 2010 03:47 PM

                                                                                                                          Got to agree with BokChoi. Grand is definitely a keeper. Hope they stay in business a good long time.

                                                                                                                          1. s
                                                                                                                            smfan RE: BokChoi Jun 18, 2010 06:25 PM

                                                                                                                            I like Yang's better than Grand. Less MSG/soy protein.

                                                                                                                            1. Nevy RE: BokChoi Feb 2, 2014 04:53 AM

                                                                                                                              My extended family came here on the weekend for CNY dim sum and compared to its past , the lustre is dulling. I would say there are still the best in GTA West but in comparison to GTA east, there were some average dishes.

                                                                                                                              The environment is showing its age and a lack of dedication for maintaining. Chair covers used to be nice in the day are showing frays and stains on a few chairs per table. The table itself was lopsided. The walls and carpets showed lots of scrapes or winter stains. It's a bit sad to see it be this way.

                                                                                                                              The Great dim sum choices
                                                                                                                              - grouper and snow pea leaves in rice roll. The fish slices were really tender. This was such a great option compared the traditional shrimp filling
                                                                                                                              - pan seared tofu skin with mushrooms and vegetables. Crispy with little oil, the vegetables were slices of shiitake mushroom, crunchy carrots, and other traditional chinese vegetables.
                                                                                                                              - egg tart with swallow nest. Flakey pastry with still hot and just set sweetened egg custard, it's one of my favourite renditions in the city and its still fantastic
                                                                                                                              - salted egg yolk and milk custard steamed bun. Lovely creamy texture with a nice contrast of the salt playing into the sweet filling. The bun wasn't overly thick and it had large amounts of custard

                                                                                                                              The good
                                                                                                                              - cheung fun of sirloin steak is much better than the average chewy tasteless ground meat
                                                                                                                              - rice roll of crispy tofu skin with pork and seafood was a great play of texture and taste, though I wish they used larger pieces of shrimp
                                                                                                                              - Siu Mai was nicely wrapped and presented with roe and scallop on top. Good flavour and steamed properly
                                                                                                                              - Sticky rice was filled good pieces of chicken instead of bones, skin , and cartiledge of bad places. Great umami with pieces of mushroom
                                                                                                                              - har gau was sadly not as good as previous memory. Nice large whole shrimp but over steamed so it tougher than hoped. Skin was thin but because of the over steaming, it was a touch too fragile . It was wrapped nicely and still better than anything in GTA West
                                                                                                                              - we ordered the braised tofu skin with egg white fish since it was rated the best Toronto Chinese 'vegetable' dish last year. The egg was wonderful. Soft fluffy and i would have loved this on all of my future brunch dishes. The braised tofu skin was inconsistent and it let the dish down. Some if the pieces were tougher as if they were a but dried out

                                                                                                                              The average
                                                                                                                              - sad to report the cha siu bun was a bit disappointing. The filling was small and missing the wonderful flavours of the past. Bread was soft and tasty but filling wasn't great

                                                                                                                              Service was dismal compared to the past. You'd think the staff would make attempts to actually have conversation on CNY. Instead we just got states and head nods. Not even a single utterance of one word from the room manager and we even spoke Cantonese to him!

                                                                                                                              The price is higher than Emerald and Sam Woo but I think it's better because the food quality is above the rest. Even if it does feel like they've rested on their laurels.

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