visting toronto (visiting pacific mall)
My trip to toronto is all about asian food! Please help me by suggestomg the best place and what is a must have there;
HK cafe style
good milk tea
crab-preferrably something different from garlic and ginger or hot pepper style.
dim sum (how is casa imperial?)
shave ice dessert
dessert (tong suew)
also pacific mall what other malls to must visit?
and anyplace that must not be missed.
(I will use Pacific Mall as a hub - if there is a different location you will be focusing on, please let me know)
My personal favourite tong siu place is in Market Village right adjacent to Pacific Mall (in the same complex). Please see a recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548501 . There a number of other places mentioned as well that are nearby. There is also mention of shaved ice dessert nearby in that thread. Pacific Mall is not very interesting for locals, but great for a visit, IMO. It's quite small, and the stores relatively repetitive. But there is great food nearby to be found!
The best BBT/milk tea place (IMO) in Pacific Mall is TenRen’s (in the centre court on ground level). The reason why I enjoy them is because they do not water down the flavours unnecessarily. Lychee Slush Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... Their Mango slush is another strong one. Of course, there are classic Milk Tea flavours as well (Taro, etc.) They are strictly take-out. For better atmosphere, you will have to go north to Hwy 7 (GoForTea is a good one for décor, though the BBT itself is not the best).
There are many bakeries in Pacific Mall, but none of them are very good, not even the patisserie. Avoid Windsor Bakery, it just looks good. If you want Chinese baked goods, head uptown to Ruelo on Hwy 7: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/564237 (Times Square - another good Chinese Mall to check out if you are in the neighbourhood, as is Woodside Mall further East) or just 10 minutes south of PMall on Brimley to Huntingwood - Aromaz. I like them quite a bit. Here is a recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/387070 . Pac Mall has "gai-dan-jie" waffles that are great and fun to eat. Good for the kids (or kids in all of us). East of PMall is the Market Village - they have this store that sells ice cream waffles for $2 on weekends (approx) with flavours that include taro and durian fruit. It's been a while since I last had one, so I'm not 100% sure if they're still there.
Casa Imperial is the closest decent dim sum place to Pacific Mall if you are trying to cover all places in one go. However, I have not been a fan of it – the food is very heavily flavoured for my tastes and quite salty/full of MSG. But it is a safer bet in the neighbourhood. Many people love it. It is quite pricey though, just an FYI. Another nearby one is Lotus Pond vegetarian restaurant. They have quite nice, and light dim sum during lunch hours. They are located at Finch and Midland. I prefer them over Casa, but that’s just my viewpoint. I’m sure others will chime in. Here is a recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/532998
If you are coming in from the airport, you can perhaps give Grand a try: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/557688
Another one, of course, is LWH, but that is downtown.
Head west towards 404, and you will cross Middlefiled on Steeles. There you will find the Chinese grocery megastore T&T: http://www.tnt-supermarket.com/en/sto... . Great for picking up snacks and just to view.
Further west on Steeles, you will come across Metro Square Café. Please see this thread for other suggestions: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/561529 most of these places offer “gong sic lai cha”, or milk tea. I was not sure what you meant by milk tea – if that was bubble tea, or just traditional milk tea. Ten Ren’s (mentioned above) is a traditional Taiwanese teahouse, so they also offer many types of tea, besides BBT.
Vietnamese – there are many chains nearby that are similar. Nothing that is too ‘standout’, though I have enjoyed Pho Vietnam: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/545077 and it is within a 15 minute drive from Pacific Mall, just south on Kennedy.
For a good peking duck, head to Dragon Dynasty or Ruby Chinese Restaurant. Both have excellent BBQ IMO, though of course, reviews have been mixed! I have never had a bad experience at Ruby. I have yet to make a post of what to order there, but I will get around to it one day.
Most places serve the aforementioned crab styles. I have yet to come across something too different. However, Fantasy does offer crab in different styles. Please see if any of these styles interest you: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Also in Scarborough is Zen for Sushi. They are very excellent in quality, though not the cheapest sushi you can find - it depends what you are looking for. Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Nearby on Steeles at 404 (west of Pacific Mall) you have J-Town, the Japanese grocery store/mini mall. They have a sushi store inside, as well as a location to buy Wagyu beef: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Here is a recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/546741
Please note that their sushi is freshest on weekends - also best for selection. Some days, their sushi has been less than fresh. For ridiculously cheap (and not high quality sushi, but completely edible!) sushi, go to Hwy 7, there are a tonne of places in that area for sushi <$10 a head. My personal recommendation for that type of sushi is Gal's at HWY 7 & Bayview in the same mall as Full House Restaurant. Lunch combos for $6. Aoyama and Cafe Michi have also had many recommendations. I personally prefer Zen to Aoyama. I have not tried Cafe Michi as of yet. They are both relatively nearby to Pac Mall.
There is a hot pot place adjacent to Pacific Mall, but I haven’t tried it yet – the menu does not seem very appetizing. Congee at Lotus Pond (mentioned above) is nice, as is Fantasy Restaurant. Be forewarned that I prefer the ‘runny’ consistency of the jook they (Fantasy) have there because I like the soup base and enjoy the flavours. It is not for everyone. They have a great combo there for $5 during weekdays (I think they recently increased their prices by 50cents though). Here is a recent thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/544953 . They have great ‘wok hay’ in their fried ‘gon chow ngow hau’ that is included in the combo. Here are more menus and photos of the aforementioned $5 combo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
Hope this can be of some assistance! I am sure many others will give their opinions as well. Have a good vacation.
Cheers and Happy Eating!
Just to clarify - I think Casa Imperial is fine. For the price, I expect something a bit different in terms of flavour, salt content and MSG. I find their price to be one of the highest in Toronto, but their food does not match, IMO. However, if you cannot travel far, it is a good choice. For Richmond Hill/Markham area, I prefer Empire Court.
Royaljelly, how's the crab at Saigon Star? Is it a good crab, or just something different? I've had curried crab before but the ones I have tried have never blown me away - what's the best one IYO? I'll search out the durian shake next time at Pac Mall - I've been dying to try it, but did not want to buy the whole fruit. Is it made with fresh durian? Thanks for the tip. I agree with the noodle comment. It's a good show though - fun to watch.
I haven't had curry crab other than the Saigon Star one. Their crabs are decent, probably similar to what you get at T&T etc. The curry sauce is rich and flavourful, but not overly spicy like real curry... more like a asian modified version. When you have it w/ the piping hot crusty french baguettes, it's quite nice. Other dishes at Saigon Star are just ok, maybe others can recommend specific dishes that are worthwhile to try.
As for the durian bubbles shake, it's similar to durian ice cream that you can probably get at T&T, but it's made into a drink form. Not too sweet, good durian flavour (not too stinky, even my 3 yr old son loves it). Their bubbles are nice too, not too chewy or overly huge. I haven't seen durian flavour at a lot of bubble tea places, and when I do find it, they taste too watered down compared to this place at pac mall.
If that's the case, to be fair, the more expensive ones like Grand and Empire Court also cannot match the price with the quality of food they offer. I have read review and experience myself the bad skin of Har Gow or the rough filling of simple items like bbq pork bun in these places. I would say they are all really not very consistent and have room for improvement to at least get these staple items right with the high standard of dim sum they claim they provide. But nonetheless, these high end dim sum places are considered to be the best Toronto can offer and in fact they are all pretty good in overall.
I would agree, they are all pretty good overall. I am happy that there are so many good dim sum places in Toronto to choose from, actually. I feel bad for my SO that works in a city without much Chinese food. It is always so terrible trying to find decent Chinese food when I visit them.
Nice suggestions BokChoi!
For crab that's a bit different, you could try the curry crab at Saigon Star. Order the little french baguettes that are freshly baked to soak up all the sauce.
Try some roasted suckling pig at Peaktop on Hwy 7 (First Markham Place). They only sell in on Saturdays (and maybe Sundays) 6:30pm and they go quick. Get it for take out to try. There's probably a few other places that now carry it as well that others can suggest.
I'm addicted to durian milk shake bubble tea at Pacific Mall. It's like an ice cream milk shake, with enough durian flavour that doesn't overwhelm you. Can't recall the store name now, but it's near the North/East corner of the mall, off to one side. It's a tiny shop, with a cotton candy making machine in the front. Front glass is lined with different colored 8x10 printouts of the drink items.
I was really disappointed with the hand-made noodle place on the 2nd level of the mall. Only dish edible was the deep fried eggplant. Noodles were lame, another deep fried pork was full of fat and almost no meat.
The BBQ duck at Shark Fin City (also 2nd level) used to be one of the best in Toronto, but lately it's supposedly going downhill according to others.
For dim sum, you can get the regular stuff almost any larger city in North America. What Toronto does best is the high end stuff. Stick to the places like Casa Imperial, Casa Victoria, Lai Wah Heen, Lai Toh Heen, Empire Court, Grand, etc etc. You really can't go wrong with any one of those places, just pick the one closest to you.
As for the Chinese malls, they're all about the same. You'll see many shops all selling similar things, like eye glasses, pirated DVDs, teenage clothing, hair products, chinese herbs, etc. Unless you have lots of time to kill, there's no real need to visit all the other malls IMHO (ie. Market Village, First Markham Place, etc).
There may be a few unique shops you might be interested in. In Pacific Mall, there's one knives store also at the North end that sells some pretty good quality stuff. I bought a cleaver there that I just love using. Great for chopping through bones or that mother load of a watermelon.
You might also want to try some Korean places, which Toronto does pretty well. Some are all you can eat BBQ, where the quality isn't as good, but you do get a belly full of meat.
May I ask where are you from ?
I suppose you are not looking for all these food inside pacific mall, right ? The following suggestion are all pretty close to that area.
HK cafe style - Cha chan tang or HK style western food ? For HK style western food, there are not too many good one now, Maxim is a good choice.
good milk tea - Phoenix (金鳳), best 'cold' milk tea in Toronto, similar to the famous Phoenix of HK which is icey cold with no ice cube used. Must try.
crab - Curry crab at Saigon star or the plum wine sauce crab of Ngau Kee (牛記) outside First Markham Place.
Hot pot - I don't recall any good one in here, they are all AYCE. Dow's (稻香) on Hwy 7 and west of Leslie is ok.
Dim Sum - Casa Imperial is a great choice, but expensive. They all use MSG, it is not particular strong there. I do not recall the food there is particularly heavy flavour. It is just normal flavour from what you can get for the newer style HK dim sum.
Peking duck - Chung King (北來順) just outside Market Village besides Pacific Mall. This restaurant is always busy.
Dessert - Full House (滿記), the one in the Chinese mall at Leslie and 16th. Their 杨枝甘露, Mongo Sago with pomelo and Durian or Mango pancake are good. There are also a lots of other tong suew places serve similar quality chinese dessert like the one called Gee Sung Tong (芝蔘堂) in Time Square, Hung Fook Tong (鴻福堂) in Commerce Gate plaza, Hui Lau San (許留山) outside First Markham place (may be you should also visit this chinese plaza if you have time, it is on Hwy 7 and Woodbine).
Sushi - there is no good sushi near that plaza, a good one is Cafe Michi which is on Pharmacy and Sheppard. And they use real wasabi (eventhough there are different grade in real wasabi).
I like 金稻火鍋 (Kam Toa) for hotpot much more than Dow's or Rolling Pot (the one by pac mall, hygiene horror stories). Kam Toa is located on Leslie north of Hwy 7, it's located right across from World Bowl. Dow's charges 50 cents per egg now, plus I find their condiment selection to be much more limited than Kam Toa.
Only problem w/ Kam Toa is the back room. They have a smaller separate back room they open when it's really rammed. Forget service if you get stuck in the back room. I generally go elsewhere if I can't get a seat in the main room.
I heartily second Phoenix for the cold milk tea. Went there on a CH rec for Hainan chicken rice (disappointing, but in desperate times...) and found the milk tea to be the best part of the meal.
Full House's Mango sago with pomelo is no longer what it used to be, but it's still ok. Tracy Dessert (Hui Lau San)'s is also fine, but not fantastic. What you should try at Tracy Dessert is their "streetside rice noodle roll". Perhaps not the best rendition, but it's tasty. Perfect for late night snacking, especially since it's open late. The guilingo at Hung Fook Tong is pretty ok, but not super strong.
I believe there's also another dessert place in Peachtree Centre (I can't recall the name right now), that's on the north side of the strip mall, which does a decent guilingao.
For soup dumpling (xiao long bao) as mentioned below, there are a few places which get tossed around a little more than others: Ding Tai Fung (First Markham Place), Hi Shanghai (mall across from Pacific Mall) and 369 (Peachtree Centre at Hwy 7 and Kennedy). My personal choice is DTF, having tried all three places, but I know other people have strong opinions on their xiao long bao.
Hi lsk, did you try the streetside rice noodle roll at Tracy (許留山) recently ? My friend just tried it and told me it is not as good as before ! What a pity ...
The other dessert place in PeachTree is Sweet Culture (架勢堂), besides the guilingo, their 西米露 (site mike lo ?) is also not bad !
No, I haven't as there hasn't been much chance for "siu ye" lately. That's sad to hear, I would always order that even if I was full from dinner because it was so nostalgic.
Yes, that's the name, Sweet Culture. Is the "sai mai lo" you're talking about the sago dessert in the milky soup?
re: Chester Eleganté
Agreed on the rum and cream crab over Saigon Star's curry crab. I actually love this more packed up for the next day and gently reheated and served with a piping hot baguette from Ace Bakery. The Vietnamese baguettes Ngau Kee offers are fine, but I like a sturdier crumb so it soaks up even more of the sauce.
Ngau Kee also does a decent fish ball noodle soup -- a little heavy on the MSG, but I quite like the fish broth accented with the fried shallot (or is it garlic?). When it was still Maple Pepper over at Shoppes on the Parkway, they also did a great salt-baked chicken, but I can't speak for recent times.
I'm sure you'll have a blast trying all of the great suggestions above. I'd be a fool to try and add anything "better". :)
BokChoi, I'm sorry to make such an extremely minor correction to your post, but the T&T you referred to is at Warden and Steeles (not the Middlefield one). ...That's all--shutting up now... ;)