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Cafe 28 - Richmond Hill, A Very Pleasant Surprise!

Charles Yu Jan 11, 2009 08:22 AM

Came across this pseudo-HK style diner/steakhouse on 10 West Wilmot in Richmond Hill ( across from World Bowl ) yesterday evening. The place was packed with lineup at the door!! A great sign!

Place was cosy and service was very friendly by Chinese standard. Our party of 4 each ordered an entree that comes with a choice of Lobster Bisque, New England Clam Chowder, Caesar Salad or House fruit salad as starter. Accompanying bread were some surprisingly good toasted olive baguette with garlic butter. Very addictive! Soup was very creamy and delicious, just a touch under-seasoned. The Mixed grill platter of rack of lamb, b-b-q baby back ribs and chicken steak at $18 was an unbelievable value. Huge, ultra tasty portion!. Another entree of Oyster Florentine on rice was topped with a generous portion of creamed spinach au-gratin plump oysters. Very rich but again pretty delicious. My entree of braised Burgundy style oxtail at around $10 was very aromatic and yummy. At least 8 pieces of the tender bony delight. Not stingy at all. Only slight let down was the Foie Gras fried rice. Tasty but most of the foie turned to rendered fat during the cooking process. Wonder if the chef thought of that when he invented the dish?! Ha! The table next to ours ordered another mixed grill combo of beef tenderloin, seared foie gras and jumbo prawns. Looked great. At $28, looked like a good value as well.

Total meal for 4 comes to only $75 all inclusive! Not bad for a delicious Saturday night outing!

  1. Charles Yu Mar 3, 2009 06:35 AM

    Well! Based on inputs from Aser and Pigurd, another restaurant with potential has gone downhill! Sigh.....!!!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu
      p
      pokerdan Mar 3, 2009 10:08 AM

      I really sorry for QGR. I think they offer the best HK style western food (I would say they are European style food prepared by chinese) in term of price and taste. I can't see cafe 28 can compare to them. Since my wife no 1 favourite western food is gone, I keep hunting for a replacement. I recently ran to a French chef operated restaurant in Yonge and Shepperd areea. The food is impressed for my first time but the bill ..... and I will definitely repeat and report back if it worths.

      1. re: pokerdan
        c
        caitlink Mar 3, 2009 04:37 PM

        Why is it that better quality HK style western food restaurants never survive in TO? We used to love Dickens. And we also gave Lucullus a try (it was at the Times Square pho location) which served souffle for dessert. Sometimes it's just fun to eat at places other than 'chai chung tien'. Does anyone have any idea why?

        1. re: caitlink
          skylineR33 Mar 3, 2009 05:35 PM

          What are the immigrant mostly come from nowaday ? HK western food no more. The trend has changed, the regional chinese cuisines has taken over.

      2. re: Charles Yu
        Chester Eleganté Mar 6, 2009 11:38 AM

        Hi Charles, I found the lobster bisque was quite under-seasoned as well, though a couple others enjoyed the light taste. You'd have to try it again yourself to see if it really has gone downhill, or just that different people have different preferences. However, one person did order the lobster linguine and found it almost tasteless. Fruit salad was not the mayo-laden fruit salad of yore (had lettuce in it as well).

        In the mixed grill, the ribs were quite pedestrian, but the lamb was tender and tasty, and the chicken also fared well. Oxtail is very good, comes with veggies and a choice of rice or linguine. One friend chose the linguine and was quite happy with the selection. Another also yearned for the days of Dickens. The pork chops on rice were also well received. "Foie gras rice" would've been an insult at full price, but for $1 it was all good. They prolly put in even less with the bonus orders.

        The best looking dish was a giant leg of lamb platter that a neighbouring table received. What was weird though was that one waiter told us that it's a special that you have to order a day in advance, but when we asked another guy about it after, he tried to tell us that it was no longer on the menu, and that tonight's was "the last one". When further pressed, he allowed that maaybe we could get it in if we called in advance. Haha. Anyway, it was still a pretty satisfying meal for most of us at the price, as the mains were quite enjoyed.

        1. re: Chester Eleganté
          j
          jonlui Mar 6, 2009 04:20 PM

          hi , i was wondering if u go tthe rice with the oxtail? which woul du recommend rice or linguine? what is the sauce base?

          is the mixed grill enough for two tgo share?

          1. re: jonlui
            Chester Eleganté Mar 9, 2009 03:05 PM

            I didn't order the oxtail, the two friends sitting next to me both did (one rice, one linguine). I usually like rice with my oxtail, but like I said, my friend was cool with the pasta. I only tried the meat. I think the sauce is a sort of red wine with tomato and veg gravy. The mixed grill just feeds one. Btw some of the meals come with a mango pudding at the end.

      3. aser Mar 2, 2009 05:16 PM

        I had high hopes after your positive reviews. Perhaps I went on an off night, I was a bit disappointed.

        We went on a Sunday, quite early for dinner, 5pm. First to arrive so I would hope the food would be optimum quality.

        The salads were ho-hum, nothing to write home about, very under-seasoned. I had the lobster bisque, which was again under-seasoned and just lacking in lobster flavour.

        The mains arrived, I ordered the rib eye. I requested medium rare, but the steak was cut as an ultra thin, but wide piece. Obviously impossible to cook a cut that thin medium rare. I grew up on hk style western food so I know not to expect a 2 inch steakhouse steak. Even then it was incredibly thin, thinner than anything I've encountered. The seasoning was rather plain, just salt and pepper. I'm not faulting them for this as no sauce was advertised on the menu, but most hk style diners that offer steaks usually will have something like a black pepper sauce.

        My gf had the breaded pork cutlet curry, more creamy than curry flavoured. It was average, not very memorable.

        I was expecting something alone the lines of Dickens (rip). Alas, it didn't deliver.

        Should I give it another shot? I figured I would order the steak since it's their bread and butter? Speaking of bread, Charles is right about the garlic bread though, quite addictive.

        4 Replies
        1. re: aser
          skylineR33 Mar 2, 2009 06:32 PM

          All the good HK western food have been closed down, only the more expensive Maxim is still around. Even Queen's Grill Room has just been closed, the food there is pretty nice, better than Cafe 28 but more expensive ...

          Cafe 28 is a economical HK style western food restaurant, now they have the $1 foie gras deal (which can be order if the order of the table is > $30), I think it is one of the better one with what is left in Toronto for HK style western food, too bad.

          1. re: skylineR33
            aser Mar 2, 2009 09:48 PM

            I haven't been to Maxim in years, perhaps time for a revisit. It's hard going to that plaza and not getting sucked into Yang's....

            For economical hk diner, I've actually enjoyed the dime a dozen (New City, Golden Flower, May Wah, Wei's, etc) more than Cafe 28. I know Cafe 28 is trying to elevate beyond the standards like these other places, but it missed the mark for me.

            I tried going to Queen's Grill Room after going to Cafe 23 on 1/13 (see earlier post) and it was closed. Obviously I got denied twice that day as QGR was gone.

            I haven't been to Phoenix in a while either, worth going back?

            I'm willing to give them another chance, but won't be ordering steak again. Looking at things like oxtail or brisket (if they have it) instead.

            1. re: aser
              skylineR33 Mar 2, 2009 09:58 PM

              I see. There is also a Maxim on Finch between Bayview and Finch, it is a better Maxim out of the two.

          2. re: aser
            p
            Pigurd Mar 3, 2009 04:43 AM

            i also noticed the lobster bisque lacked much flavour... also, the "lobster" linguine had crayfish tail pieces in it instead of lobster, which makes me wonder if the bisque and linguine was made with crayfish instead of lobster? that might explain why it was quite underseasoned, though you would think the chef would taste things...

          3. j
            jonlui Mar 2, 2009 01:06 PM

            i was jus wondering whether ur oxtail came with a side of rice , pasta, or vegees of somesort?

            1 Reply
            1. re: jonlui
              Charles Yu Mar 2, 2009 04:08 PM

              Yes!

            2. a
              afici0nad0 Jan 25, 2009 01:48 PM

              visited cafe 28 for lunch this past saturday.

              menu is very limited. i was expecting more. ordered the yellow curry chicken on rice for $9 + tax + tip. i liked the curry sauce. hints of heat and coconut milk. other than that, didn't find the order very satisfying.

              as far as ambiance is concerned, dining area is clean, cozy and simple. definitely not a place which requires screaming to the wait staff for attention.

              food = 6/10
              atmosphere = 7/10
              would i go back? = "no"

              nothing bad about this place, nor, nothing extraordinary either. i did see the dinner specials though. looked pretty good.

              3 Replies
              1. re: afici0nad0
                Charles Yu Jan 25, 2009 02:21 PM

                Cafe28's forte is a 'Hong Kong style steak and seafood house'. As such, a critique based on the ordering of a luncheon 'curry chicken' dish is IMO not fully appropriate and sufficient in determining the strength of this type of eatery!

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  t
                  theel Jan 25, 2009 06:12 PM

                  SO and I went there Friday night based you your review (and convenience because we were in the area). It was quite a pleasant surprise for a HK style western place. The soups were very good for what they were and the prices were fairly reasonable given the flavour and portions. Wife had the curry veal and I had baked porkchop (it was actually deep fried but what the heck, chinese cooks can deep fry like no other). I used to be a fan of Maydoh (Kennedy and Denison) 6-7 years ago because of the pricing, portions and flavour. Cafe 28 is a much nicer place, better soup and dinner prices are about the same. Nice to know that it's there when I'm in the mood for HK style cafe. Not many good ones around anymore.

                  1. re: Charles Yu
                    a
                    afici0nad0 Jan 26, 2009 10:38 AM

                    point taken

                2. w
                  Wil Jan 19, 2009 04:36 AM

                  I tired this place last night strictly based on Charles' review :) For the parents out there, there are high chairs available here.

                  I ended up ordering the NY Steak + Foie Gras, my wife had the baed Pork Chop Fried rice. The Steak was quite good consideing we're not at a top end steakhouse, cooked to medium rare perfectly. Unfortunately, the foie gras was not very good, it was a mush and it didn't have a good taste to it at all. I wouldn't bother with it the next time. Their Lobster Bisque was excellent, and my wife enjoyed the ceasar salad, everything homeade (courtons/dressing)

                  Definately good value, nice atmosphere, we'll definately be back. Their afternoon tea specials look really good as well.

                  1. s0memale Jan 14, 2009 08:14 AM

                    Hi Charles,

                    Once again, thank you so much for one of your informative reviews! I can't wait for your next surprise!

                    Ever since I read this review, I can't seem to get the words 'foie gras fried race' out of my head! I'm really curious to know if it was just downright dissapointing, or it's not that bad, and actually worth ordering - if I am craving something like that.

                    Also is it a big portion, or could I order one of the mix grill sets as well?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: s0memale
                      Charles Yu Jan 19, 2009 04:43 PM

                      Portion was pretty big and filling. However, like I said, the Foie Gras fried rice was kind of a miss. The rice should be cooked with the foie added last and NOT during the frying process.
                      BTW, you have to be 'some MALE' to consume both the fried rice and mixed grill! Guess you can always doggy bag!

                    2. g
                      graydyn Jan 13, 2009 11:45 AM

                      Thanks for another great find Charles!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: graydyn
                        aser Jan 13, 2009 12:08 PM

                        I tried going yesterday (Monday) at 3ish, it was closed. :(

                      2. s
                        stv Jan 12, 2009 02:51 AM

                        I think you mean 10 EAST Wilmot St in Richmond hill

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: stv
                          Charles Yu Jan 12, 2009 04:41 AM

                          You might be right?! I'm always confused by the east/west designation of streets in that area!! Anyways, its directly across from the World Bowl main entrance.

                        2. c
                          ComeUndone Jan 11, 2009 04:41 PM

                          Wow, this is awesome news! I've been looking for an alternative to Goldsor in the neighbourhood and your review sounds very promising. Gonna give it a try some time this week.

                          1. a
                            afici0nad0 Jan 11, 2009 01:48 PM

                            damn, i'll need to visit this place asap.

                            this place in the same plaza as the hot pot at the corner unit?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: afici0nad0
                              Charles Yu Jan 11, 2009 01:57 PM

                              Yes! Parking is pretty bad though! You might need to park across the road in the World Bowl parking lot!

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