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Feb 4, 2009 06:55 AM

True confessions: I've enjoyed some Chinese meals at C'est Bon

For the longest time, I didn't venture into CB because of the scathing reviews I'd read here. But one day some months back, we were going to go to Tabla but it was closed so we went to the closest place. I didn't have high expectations, but in the end I was very pleasantly surprised. True, it's not "real Chinese" in that they don't serve tea unless you order it and soup comes out in single servings (not one big bowel meant for drowning in) and they... well, they have a Sweet and Sour section on their menu. But I've been back twice since that first visit and I've always enjoyed my food and been pleased with the service--very fast, and very accommodating about changing ingredients and such. Specifically, we've had the hot and sour soup (which was very good but needed to be heated up more---so the last time we were there, we asked for it to be extra hot from the stove---this worked out well); veggie steamed dumplings (quite nice though not as many interesting ingredients as at Asian Legends and Tasty); sauteed fish in spicy sauce (satisfying but not as good as the fish in Real Chinese places--the fish isn't as tender and it almost has the texture of having been blanched before hand but unlike Real Chinese, it is deboned and the onions and spice that it's prepared with were very tasty); Thai curry fried rice (very nice curry taste); vegetarian ma pa tofu (very pleasant soft tofu); c'est bon mixed veggie (I love the assortment--you rarely get so many legitimate Chinese veggies in one dish at a Real Chinese place----lotus bulbs, bak choi and Chinese broc to name 3 of them---and very fresh).

Those are the only dishes I can recall directly but we've also ordered some eggplant dishes in the past and a noodle, the names escape me--but they were all good. The only dish that I didn't like (ironic since I think this is the only dish many people who dislike the main course food do find pleasing) was the deep fried mars bars. Yeah, that was not something I'd ever try again. But CB is definitely on my routine of places to eat at!

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  1. Interesting...thanks for the positive take;) I hadn't tried C'est Bon for the same reasons that had been keeping you away. Good to hear they are using Chinese broccoli in the mixed veg:)

    1 Reply
    1. re: phoenikia

      I do find having Chinese broc to be a dividing line re Real Chinese and Fake. I've phoned quite a few Chinese places near Y & E and none have Chinese broc. Of course, real Chinese to me means you should be able to order sauteed water cress or spinach or pea shoots with garlic but I'm pretty sure CB is not THAT "real". Still, they seem to occupy a pleasing middle ground.

    2. I too like it here when I'm in the mood for Canadian Chinese food. The Yonge/Eglinton location is clean with great service and they've also got a patio in the back which is nice to eat on during the summer.

      I'm a fan of their Singapore noodles and pork dumplings, which are generously prepared with fresh ingredients. They tend not to skimp on prep, including de-veining of shrimp which is a lot more than what I can say about my last my last meal at Rol San...

      1 Reply
      1. re: eller

        I haven't been to the Y & E location even though it is closer to me--mainly because the parking is much easier at the one near Sporting Life. But I'll keep that in mind for when the weather gets warmer.

      2. My wife and I always get our Chinese food delivered from C'est Bon and we have NEVER I repeat NEVER had a bad experience with them. So, I too am quite suprised at how this restaurant has been trashed here. Yes, it's very Canadianized food but we have always found it to be fresh, hot and tasty. Their sweet & sour chicken balls, ginger beef, mu shu pork are our favourites.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bogie

          I don't see where it's been "trashed"????. I've been there and find it good for a quick meal.

          1. re: Helen

            I too have had some good delivery from this place. It is always fast and hot.

          2. Based on this thread, I decided to order delivery from C'est Bon today. I've avoided it in the past due to the odd name, location, and bad reviews. Well, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. It's actually a fair step up from "Canadian Chinese" restaurants, though not in the same category as the places in Markham (even from the perspective of the menus -- no banquet-style dishes with hard-to-find ingredients here).

            I decided to order a range of dishes that I consider Chinese comfort food -- the type of stuff my mother would make at home. Ma po tofu, dry sauteed green beans, beef in black pepper sauce, mu shu pork and general Tso's chicken (ok, Mom never made this, but my husband likes it!). The mu shu pork was excellent, with finely slivered ingredients and not overly seasoned or sauced. The pancakes were authentic and reasonably thin (though you definitely need to order extra pancakes). The ma po tofu is one of the better renditions I've had from a delivery place, with tender tofu, minced chicken instead of pork, some useless frozen peas and carrots and a decent, though slightly underseasoned sauce. The green beans suffered from being steamed in the closed container during delivery, but they were still tasty. The general tsao's chicken was in a heavy, dark and sticky sauce, but I honestly couldn't tell you what "good" or "authentic" general Tsao's chicken is like (though I've made Florence Dunlop's delicious version, and it doesn't resemble this stuff at all). But the chicken itself was decent quality white meat and fried well without too much batter and hubby liked it. Hubby liked the beef, as well, and said the meat wasn't the scary over-tenderized stuff that cheap restaurants use.

            So overall, I really enjoyed the dishes I tried. It definitely fills a niche for me, as I've haven't found any Chinese place that delivers to my house, or is within a 10 minute drive that I've ever ordered from a second time. It's not haute Chinese cuisine, but the stuff I had was a fair rendition of Chinese home cooking. I would imagine that with a menu as large as they have, there are probably hit and miss items. But based on what I ordered today, I will definitely order from them again and try some other dishes. The mu shu was a big winner for me, and I can see myself craving it regularly. Thanks, Ediblethoughts for your post! I never would have given this place a chance otherwise.

            Oh, and I should add that I was impressed that there wasn't a pool of grease at the bottom of any of the containers.

            9 Replies
            1. re: TorontoJo

              I had the veg version of the ma pa tofu and you've described it perfectly. Down to the useless (though inoffensive peas/carrots). As you said, a bit under-flavoured sauce but still very satisfying overall. And ditto on the lack of grease. I very much appreciated that!

              1. re: Ediblethoughts

                Out of curiosity, do their tofu dishes use fresh tofu, or the fried cubes? I'm not a fan of the latter...

                1. re: piccola

                  The mapo tofu uses fresh tofu. Very tender.

              2. re: TorontoJo

                Thanks for posting your comments on the dishes you ordered, TorontoJo;) Will have to give this place a try sometime soon.

                1. re: phoenikia

                  At the end of the day if you enjoy it, that's all that counts. I appreciate that you realize that it's not 'authentic' chinese (whatever that means since there are so many different regional ways to prepare chinese cuisine) but who cares as long as the flavours appeal to you. I am chinese and I'll tell you once in a while I like a well made 'chicken' ball with the flourescent sauce. I also get tired of the 'real' chinese places because we go all the time and everything starts to taste or feel the same. I hate to admit it but even that Soy Sauce fried rice at the food court sometimes hits the spot.

                  1. re: theel

                    Totally agree. Good food is good food...period. And whether a food is good is purely subjective. So enjoy that fried rice and never apologize for foods that you enjoy.

                2. re: TorontoJo

                  My partner and I have had craving for both General Tso and Kung Pao and this place should fit the bill. My issue with General Tso chicken is the chicken is usually super sketchy - rubbery, fatty, mysterious chewy bits. How was the quality of the chicken they used? Kung is genrally diced breast meat so not so concerned about that one. Thanks for the helpful review and any additonal help would be appreciated!

                  1. re: abigllama

                    The chicken is good quality chicken breast. No weird textures or bits! They do a good rendition that my husband orders regularly (I'm not sure there is such a thing as "authentic" General Tsao, and it seems to be a little different in every restaurant). I would, however, recommend against the kung pao chicken, or at least warn you about it. I grew up eating my mom's version, which AFAIK was quite authentic, and C'est Bon's version doesn't resemble it at all. It doesn't taste bad, but it just doesn't taste like kung pao. Their mushu pork and mushu chicken are MUCH better.

                3. Had a meal there last night (south of Eglinton location), for what it was (fancier Canadian Chinese cuisine), it was enjoyable. Rice was cooked nicely, vegetables were fresh and still had some snap to them, and the braised tofu was not overdone. Service was fine, what I would call pleasantly efficient. Wouldn't go out of my way to eat there, but if I was in the neighbourhood and hungry I would drop by.