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Weekday dim sum: Dragon, Casa, Empire or Grass Mt?

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I know there are endless threads on dim sum already, so my apologies. Here is what I'm trying to accomplish: my mother-in-law (very Caucasian) wants to take my mother (very Chinese) and us for a dim sum lunch next week. I don't want to do a high-end spot like LWH, Grand or Empire Court because my MIL will have a heart attack at the prices. So I'm looking for a mid-range spot with good quality (for my mother) and reasonable prices (for my MIL). Major bonus points for cleanliness. Minor bonus points for atmosphere.

I combed the threads and narrowed my options down to Dragon Dynasty, Casa Imperial, Empire Oriental Cuisine and Grass Mountain Villa. Which would our dim sum experts recommend? Am I missing another, more obvious, choice?

I don't frequent dim sum spots, so am really at a loss on my own. I don't even even know if all my choices are even open during the week for lunch.

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  1. TorontoJo, I found Casa Imperial to be close to the same quality as Empire Court, but the selection of dim sum offered was more conventional/standard at Casa Imperial, and more innovative at Empire Court. Using the 2 dishes per person plus 2 for the table approach, the dim sum came to just over $20 per person at Casa Imperial IIRC, whereas Empire Court was closer to $25 per person. The atmosphere at Casa Imperial is sort of Faux French/continental- gilded frames, impressionist paintings,area rugs, comfy chairs, etc., and it's very clean.

    Haven't been to the others you mentioned. Yang's on Bayview might be another option you could consider- it's on my want-to-try list for 2009.

    1. I agree with phoenikia's comment, and Casa Imperial is not much cheaper than Grand.

      I think Yang's is your best bet here. With s,m,l = 2.8, 3.8, 4.8. XL is 6.8 and SP is 8. Most of the items on the menu are s,m,l and if you do not order too many XL and SP, the price will be reasonable. It has more dim sum selections than Empire Court and Grand. Environment and service are good.

      Here is some of the review of Yang's for reference :

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/573082

      1. I found Grass Mtn Villa not very clean and the dim sum that I had once there was rather boring. The place just looked old and a bit worn down.

        Yangs Fine Chinese in Richmond Hill is brand new and sparkling clean w/ impeccible service, but higher price. Atmosphere is more modern contemporary. You can probably get away with around $20 per person, so long as you stay away from the XL and SP prices that Skyline was referring to.

        Another one to consider is Spring Villa on Woodbine, north of Steeles. The best deal is before 11am sunday mornings since there's one price on all dishes (I haven't been for a good 6 months though after I moved south). Place is very clean and decent service as well.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Royaljelly

          Is the special at Spring Villa on Sundays only or is it 7 days a week?
          Do you know if there is a one price special after a certain time (perhaps 2pm??)

          Where exactly is Yang's? Dragon Boat?

          1. re: minto

            The special at Spring Villa is for all days of the week, I believe. Only works if you put your bill in before 11... no specials for afternoon tea, unfortunately. Although - they sometimes let you do it after 11, I think the latest that you could hand your ticket in is something like 11:30am.. and then they let you sit with your food till 12, to finish it.

            1. re: jennjen18

              I went to Spring Villa on New Year's Day during regular hours, and the quality was higher than any other pre-10:45am visit I've had in the previous few months (though I hadn't been there since the fall, so I don't know whether this is related).

              In particular, the steamed rice noodle rolls were excellent, the pan-fried turnip cake was the best version I've had turned out from them (contained chunks of plump turnip in addition to the shavings - a good sign), and a 'Pan fried vegetable bean curd roll' was superb, beautifully crisp and light all at once.

        2. Another choice is Dragon Boat, it is big with good and clean environment. It is not Empire Court or Yangs, but good dim sum overall, was there 2 weekend ago with 5 friends and end up paying $11 each (include tax and tips) with a full stomach. I think if you go on a weekday and finish before 11:00am, all the dim sum are like $2.6, but I am not sure about timing, it is better to call and confirm. This is what I call good value dim sum.

          http://www.dragonboatcuisine.ca/

          6 Replies
          1. re: skylineR33

            Hi Skyline, I haven't seen too many posts about Dragon Boat yet (aside from yours). They claim themselves as a "fusion" style resto, does that also apply to their dim sum or just lunch/dinners? Both of my mac webbrowsers don't seem to be able to view their online dim sum menus.

            Minto, you'll have to call up Spring Villa to ask if they have single-priced dim sum on weekdays or after a certain time, since I've only been there on a sunday morning (very early to get a table, say before 10:30am).

            Yangs is located at Bayview & Weldrick (same plaza as where the Bruno's is).

            Unit 30, 9665 Bayview Ave, Richmond Hill
            905-884-3388

            1. re: Royaljelly

              Hi Royaljelly,

              I don't think it applied to their dim sum or lunch/dinner. Their dim sum is very cantonese. It is just a regular cantonese restaurant with some szechuan dishes. Probably it is refering to having some set lunch with items like spring roll and fortune cookies gear towards Caucasian ? But one can order very cantonese style food from there.

            2. re: skylineR33

              I've been to Dragon Boat twice. It was very good and recommended by a bunch of old chinese ladies who spend their time dim summing here and there.
              The first time (Saturday) the place was PACKED, the second time (mid-week) we got there early and were seated right away but as lunch hour progressed it was packed again.
              The Lo Bak Ko (not sure how to spell it, but the turnip cake) here is about the best I've had! Their rice rolls are amazing.

              1. re: Joshman

                I've had several good dim sum experiences recently at Dragon Boat as well. I'd recommend the steamed taro cake, the rice noodles in soup with bbq duck, and your standard ha gow (bountiful, quality shrimp) and siu mai for starters, but I was happy with most of the other choices as well.

                Prices are competitive (S/M/L $2.40/3.40/4.40), and for the weekday special, they just have to enter in your order in their computer before 10:50am for the special price.

                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                  Just make sure you hand your order in before 10:50. I've seen them inform customers they're not eligible for the special because they handed the sheet in 2 mins late.

                  Also it's cash only for the morning special, m-f, excluding holidays.

                  1. re: aser

                    Was at Dragon Boat for a holiday "banquet" set menu. Food was quite good and about as good as its old location. After talking to my parents about the strange "fusion" name, I've come to the conclusion that it's supposed to generate buzz amongst the local community and is considered the next big thing in that circle.

                    The old Dragon Boat location had good dim sum at prices lower than the 500-pound Gorillas of the dim sum circuit in the GTA, and Casa Imperial probably won't fit in your budget.

            3. I knew I could count on you guys! I think Yang's it is. We'll be going either Monday or Tuesday, so I'll let you all know how it goes. Thanks!

              1. Thanks to everyone who recommended Yang's. Just got back from lunch with the mothers and it was a bit hit all around.

                We ordered:

                - Har gow
                - Chiu Chow dumplings w/minced pork and peanuts
                - Sticky rice with chicken wrapped in lotus leaf
                - Steamed BBQ pork bun (always a must for my husband)
                - Home made chinese crispy pancake ("pancake" is a definite misnomer, "pastry" would be more apt)
                - Chinese chive dumplings
                - Spring rolls (a must for my MIL)
                - Rice noodle roll w/beef and enoki mushrooms
                - Chilled mango and tapioca pudding
                - Oolong tea

                The stars for me were the chive dumplings (great chive flavour, though the pork could have been a bit more tender), the sticky rice, the rice noodle roll and the har gow. The kitchen has a very nice touch with all the different types of doughs/noodles (managing that tricky balance of delicacy and "chew") and the sticky rice was just the right texture and not a glutinous mass that I've sometimes had. The shrimp in the har gow were very fresh and immaculately cleaned.

                I also enjoyed the chiu chow dumplings, probably because I had never had dumplings with peanuts in them before, so it was a nice change. And the mango tapioca pudding was a refreshing way to end the meal. Oddly enough, even though it was mango flavoured and shaped like a fish, the flavour and texture actually reminded me of the "almond tofu" dessert my mother used to make when I was little.

                The place is spotless and the decor is quite contemporary, but warm (I love the wood slats on the walls). Service was excellent and unobtrusive.

                We were all comfortably full by the end. Total for the 9 dishes and tea, including tax and a generous tip was $57. My MIL was VERY pleased! :)

                Thanks again, you guys are the best!

                -----
                Yangs Fine Chinese Cuisine
                9665 Bayview Ave, Richmond Hill, ON L4C, CA