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Rol San Restaurant - 323 Spadina Ave

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Not sure if there is already a thread about this restaurant so sorry in advance, but I wanted to ask about the dim sum prices and the two different rooms.

I haven't been to Rol San in a long time and decided to go there for dim sum today. It was pretty busy, about a 15 mins wait or so. I was waiting in the front and then started noticing people coming from the back and sitting in the front. Then I started noticing people coming in and walking right to the back. Why do they have two different lineups?

As for the dim sum prices, I thought they were expensive, ranging from $2.99 to $3.99! Is that how much dim sum normally is or is it because of Chinese New Year? I'm surprised considering I've read people's comments about how cheap it is.

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  1. There are two different line-ups. Someone in the front usually lets you know if there is room in the back, they will tell you to go to the back. In the back, they will give you a number. But its not very organised especially after 12pm it gets so busy - sometimes there is no one to greet you and give you any info. If there is a long line up in front, I often just go myself to the back and see how that line-up is.

    Rol San used to be my favourite place to go - I liked ordering from the sheet instead of waiting for carts to come by - the food is always fresh and hot. I used to make sure to go before the 12pm rush. But because of the weird line-ups and the price (yes I totally agree it is more expensive than other places) I now prefer Forestview on Dundas.

    2 Replies
    1. re: chinglish

      I love Rol San - is the quality as good at Forest view, and is the service cart of sheet? What about lineups at the weekend?

      1. re: KitchenVoodoo

        I have to say that the quality and execution is far superior at Rol San over Forestview in our opinion. No comparison.

    2. I think Rol San is great quality and value (often as good or better than LWH and half the price). We are happy to pay just a tiny bit more for the freshness and excellent preparation (considering the lineups lots of other folks seem to agree).

      If you want something cheaper with carts (but not nearly as good or fresh) try Yui Wah on the 3rd floor on Dundas east of Spadina.

      4 Replies
      1. re: JonasBrand

        I know I've said it on this board before, but I really don't understand why people like Rol San. When I was there last (a couple months ago), there was not a single dish I would call good. The rice noodles were overcooked and lacked smoothness. The fried squid was flavourless and soggy. The seafood fried noodles were the biggest disappointment. Instead of arriving crispy and hot, they sadly slouched on the plate undercooked and unappetizing.

        We may have visited on an off day, but if I'm to return again, what dishes best display Rol San's quality and value?

        1. re: foxymoron

          They do have off days. Persevere! It's worth it. The Moo Shoo pork is fantastic. So is the almond chicken. And I love the way they do their chinese broccoli! Crunchy and garlicky. And the stuffed bean curd (ie. tofu that has a piece of shimp on top and is deep fried and drenched in some unknown, totally delicious sauce) is so good that it haunts my dreams. I adore this place. It's been my favourite Chinese restaurant for years, despite a few imperfect visits. The overall yumminess plus the low price point make me forgive the odd soggy item.

          I've never heard of the second lineup, though. Usually I just walk through the front door and am seated in either the front or the back.

          1. re: Sarah Cat

            The unknown sauce is supposed to be black bean sauce. Usually at dim sum places, they use a watered down version of the real thing. You can get jars of it at any Chinese groceries.

            It's been a while I've been there, but the line up is not "official". Sometimes people who know of the back room (I think it used to be called the VIP room) go and line up there instead of the front, thus creating 2 lines.

        2. re: JonasBrand

          Everybody has their own taste preference, so good for you on finding Rol San as good as LWH. Saves a lot of money!

          Rol San is my regular dim sum joint, but for me they do not have (and I don't expect them to have) the "delicate" touch, creativity and refinement that you can get at LWH or for places that are relatively easy to get to from downtown, Grand.

        3. I was there on Saturday - there was one line-up at front door for both front and back. About a 10 min wait. The host sent people in line to back as space became available and second fellow back there seated you. Was with my niece and nephew (15 and 13 yrs old) for their first Dim Sum experience and they loved it. Everything was delish...favourites were Har Gow, Chicken Wings, Chicken & Chive Dumpling Soup, Sticky Rick in Lotus leaf and fried Pork Dumplings...safe choices for newbies.

          1. I am a huge Rol San Fan! I just noticed that they are now serving Dim Sum all day / night all night's except Saturday.