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Oct 11, 2008 03:55 AM

Best Roast Pigeon in GTA? (reviews + photos)

Thought I would start a thread of the best roast pigeon in the GTA judging from the responses on earlier threads.

We are probably most familiar with the famed ‘Full House’ version, but some other versions have also come up over the past few months, so I would like to create a list to help everyone eat their way through the different versions of the crisp birds around the city.

Let’s start off with comments about the Full House version, as this one probably started it all. I have had pigeon only a handful of times before recently, as I had them in places such as Keung’s Delight and did not enjoy them as thoroughly. They were a bit too gamey, and this was probably due to the fact they were not handled well. The Full House version was very sweet, juicy and the skin was what set it apart. It was exceptionally thin and crisp. An excellently prepared dish (the same cannot be said of their other dinner items). This dish was quite pricey at $20 a bird. The size of it was a bit smaller than my hand, as is typical. Would I head here again for the bird? Not likely because the dishes that rounded out the meal were sub-par. The bird itself was very tasty though. Perhaps if you know ahead of time what to order, you may be safe.


Next up, we have a recently sampled Ruby Chinese Restaurant version at $8.99. At this price, I was tempted to order 2. Please note that this is only a ‘special’ item and is on sale for a limited time with a restriction on 3 birds for tables less than 6, or something to that effect. The bird’s flesh tasted similar to Full House, however, the skin was just not as crispy. But overall, I would say it was approximately 85% as good, and at 50% of the price – I would definitely order it again. They have it prepared two ways – the popular fried way with salt condiment, or with soya sauce. I will be returning to sample the soya sauce version and will let you all know how that goes. At $9 a bird, it is quite a steal. A great entry price to try this bird to see if it is to your liking. Please ask for it by name, as it is only available on the Chinese menu at the front of the room on poster board, if you cannot read Chinese.


I would, however, like to know everyone else’s thoughts on their favourite purveyor of pigeon. TIA

Cheers and Happy Eating!

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  1. Full House is mostly for banquet style of dinner and this is what they are famous for in case if you don't know ... and their banquet dinner is one of the best value vs quality in GTA. If you have been to there once and order some dish that is not good, it does not really show that it is not a good restaurant as there are hundred of items in a chinese restaurant menu and it is impossible to have all of them good. Go try their dinner for 10 and you will like it. On a saturday night, you will see 7 out of 10 table doing banquet style dinner in there.

    3 Replies
    1. re: skylineR33

      True enough skyline. I tried to get a few recs for a smaller family gathering before going, but there seemed to only be comments about their large banquet style dinners - I unfortunately do not have the luxury of dining in groups of 10 on a regular basis. I did mention that I believe, so it is not a review to dissuade customers from going to Full House. Hope this was not misinterpreted. Trust me, I feel the same way about many restaurants that have been labeled as 'poor', only to find that some may not have ordered the correct dishes - I made the same post about Ruby's not so far back, using almost the exact same wording in my argument.


      1. re: skylineR33

        this isn't quite the right thread to ask this, but is the full house banquet menu often printed in an equivalent english menu?

        a couple friends have been interested in going for a banquet style meal sometime but being the only asian in the bunch and speaking incredibly minimal cantonese and not being able to read an ounce of it makes me a little hesitant. i know what a dish is supposed to look and taste like... but trying to get a menu for 10 and making sure we get the right stuff concerns me.

        otherwise that legend dinner charles mentioned below sounds great. i could just fill it out with a few other dishes but hit the major items that my friends would likely want.

        1. re: pinstripeprincess

          Hi pinstripeprincess, the banquet menu at Full House do not have a equivalent english menu. This is also the case with quite a few restaurant on Hwy 7.

          But you can obtain copies of these menu (in chinese) just at the entrance of the restaurant, they put them in a rack on a counter table, grouped by different price range. You can go to obtain these menu in advance and think about it at home (hopefully you have some family members who can help out reading it ?), because these dinner set requires booking in advance.

          The banquet at Full House has a medium to high end quality and pricing. But in terms of quality and value, it is very good. It ranges something from $400 to $700 (cash deal all inclusive) for a typical banquet dinner for 10 and it is customizable, and they charges $50 more on weekend.

      2. Roast Squab/pigeon has become a staple feature in almost all GTO's Cantonese restaurants. In addition to the above captioned two restaurants, one can try it at Fantasy eatery, Maple Yip, Tanchikee, John's B-B-Q, Regal 16, O'Mei ( advance order ) Keung's....etc. Due to the use of five spice powder in the preparation, IMO, they all tasted pretty similar.

        To fully enjoy and appreciate the bird, one should adopt the approach taken by the majority of patrons in Hong Kong and that is to order one per person and eat the bird in its entirety, 'uncut'! This way it will help to retain more of the juice and temperature of the bird. For taste and comparison, for those of you fellow CH from Hong Kong, one should use the Sha Tin's 'Lone Wah'., Fung Lam or Kowloon's TaiPingKoon version as yardstick! I believe SkylineR33 love to compare the Full House version with Hong Kong's Sha-Tin ones? A bird in Hong Kong now costs over CAN$30 nowadays!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Charles Yu

          Thanks for the suggestions Charles Yu. Perhaps I will request it 'uncut' next time, as I feel I can probably consume a bird in its entirety on my next visit!

          Please note that the Ruby version did not have the 5spice rub preparation. This, I felt, made it also feel a bit lacking when held in comparison to the Full House version.

        2. We used to order the roast pigeon at Ruby's for dim sum all the time. I can't remember the price now, but a good way to sample the bird as well for first timers. It probably not as fresh as the made to order ones though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Royaljelly

            Hi Royaljelly

            Ahh, the famous dim sum version - I believe that was what they labeled as 'quail' though. I believe that one uses the same preparation method as the pigeon, though it was about $2.65 the last time I went! Quite a good deal. I have not ordered it as of late though, as I have switched my dim sum visits to solely Grand the past 1/2 year. If you have enjoyed that version, I recommend trying their larger 'pigeon' the next time around - rounding out the meal with some recommended dishes I had posted on another thread (fried sole prepared two ways, etc.)


          2. FYI,

            LEGEND ( Yonge/Glen Cameron, Thornhill ), one of the better Cantonese Chinese restaurant is cuurently offering 4 Prix Fix set dinner choices. One of them has the following dishes:
            - Diced winter melon soup with assorted meat and seafood
            - Peking duck two ways
            - Sauteed King mushrooms and greens with prawns
            The dinner is enough for 4-6 people and cost $68.95. A fairly good deal IMO.

            Another option is:
            - Soup of the day
            -Peking duck two ways
            -Sauteed beef with trio of mushrooms
            - Sauteed Lobster with Maggi sauce

            Also, $68.95

            3 Replies
            1. re: Charles Yu

              Thanks for the menus, Charles Yu. Sounds promising. I have never been to Legend, but the menu seems well suited to my usual smaller group gatherings. Have you had an opportunity to try it yet? How does their roast pigeon rank compared to others (say Full House's version)?


              1. re: BokChoi

                Morning BokChoi!
                I have tried Legend a number of times and found their food above par with a few dishes quite outstanding. My daughter just loved their 'Deboned Crispy roast free range chicken with flavoured sticky rice' - not a lot of restaurants have the skill to do this challenging dish.
                As for the pigeon, never tried it before. Will be giving it a try next week if time allows. Based on the quality of their B-B-Q products, reckon the pigeon should be more than acceptable!

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  Good morning Charles Yu. Thank you very much for the information. I have never tried that sticky rice dish you have mentioned - but it sounds very good. Hopefully I will be able to round up my usual dining companions to try this one out soon!


            2. Actually, when was the last time you were at Full House BokChoi? I was at tan chai kee last night (incidentally, they were pushing their own pigeon for $8.50 I think?) and drove by a unlit and dark Full House. Are they under renovations or...?

              8 Replies
              1. re: tksh

                Hi tksh. I went about a month ago? September 23, 2008 according to my photo log. I am not sure of their opening hours, as that was the first time I have ever gone there. Maybe the other 'Full House experts' can shed more light on the issue?

                I doubt I would go again, as they made some pretty critical errors (serving old, bitter vegetables, etc).

                For smaller parties that don't order the set menu, note that portions were exceptionally small for the price and quality.


                1. re: tksh

                  tksh, have you tried tan chai kee's version - what are your thoughts on their capability as a restaurant?

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    I haven't tried tan chai kee's version and to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen anyone eating it there either. But their other dishes are quite nice and I would wager you would get the opposite experience of Full House.

                    You know the style of casual Canto eating in HK where you would sit on folding stool on the side of the street under some blue tarp? Nothing amazing but just plain good food with the wok skills you wish you had. To me tan chai kee is the closest we have to that style of casual eating in Toronto. While not as cheap as their HK counterpart, you can easily feed three people for under $40.

                    I stayed away from them for the better part of this year because it looked like they changed management and they only had two girls serving a floor of something like 20+ tables but I'm happy to say that they have three girls now and service is fast once again. Pretty sure the kitchen didn't change either.

                    I definitely agree with you about Full House BTW. The pigeon was excellent but we too were disappointed but the quality of the other dishes. Still hoping I'll get a chance to try out their banquet service like skylineR33 suggested.

                    1. re: tksh

                      Hello tksh!
                      Did you try out Tanchikee's 'Sauteed fresh goose liver with garlic chives shoot' Awesome dish, lots of wok-hay and perfectly cooked liver ( if you like that sort of thing, that is! )

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        No! I actually went there to try out that dish (I know I heard about it from you in another thread) but I didn't see it on the white board where they list the 'seasonal' dishes. I really wanted to try that goose liver too damnit.

                        1. re: tksh

                          Hi tksh,
                          Too bad!! When I had that dish about 10 days ago, it was listed on the right hand side on the 'Special of the day' board above the cashier counter. May be they have exhausted their supply of foie?! I usually order take out lunch from them once a week. If I notice that dish again, I'll let you know, pronto!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Try out their pigeon for all of us and let us know how it goes!

                            1. re: tksh

                              Tanchikee's pigeon is good, very crispy skin and nice aroma. However, the way they fried it make it not as juicy as Full House's. But for $13, it is a good deal in Toronto with such a quality !