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Best "real" Chinese downtown TO?

j
Jenni_Bee Mar 25, 2009 12:35 PM

My husband and I will be staying downtown next weekend and we really want to have authentic chinese one night. I have read alot and notice that Asian Legend seems to be popular... is this authentic or just the same old thing you'd find in every city??
We do like schezwan and I also love some good Peking duck (who doesn't?) but it's not that important. Any help would be great. Thanks!

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  1. j
    Jenni_Bee RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 25, 2009 12:37 PM

    I spelled "szechwan" wrong! oops.

    1. c
      childofthestorm RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 25, 2009 01:24 PM

      If you can afford it, Lai Wah Heen would be the place to go, albeit for Cantonese as opposed to Szechwan. I've had the Peking duck for two and it was terrific. But it is not for the faint of wallet...however the impeccable service really goes a long way towards softening the blow.

      I don't think you can find good Szechwan in the downtown core, since I started making treks to the 'burbs nothing else will do.

      Not really a fan of Asian Legend...

      8 Replies
      1. re: childofthestorm
        j
        Jenni_Bee RE: childofthestorm Mar 25, 2009 01:33 PM

        Yes, I am aware of LWH and it's affect on the wallet. This is actually why I ended up posting on here, to avoid going there! lol We're doing an expensive night the next night.
        Any other suggestions??

        1. re: Jenni_Bee
          m
          miranda RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 25, 2009 06:29 PM

          Asian legend on Dundas is what my Chinese friends like and I love it...Miranda

          1. re: Jenni_Bee
            aser RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 25, 2009 08:33 PM

            Xam Yue does good seafood for downtown chinatown. I'm a fan of their black bean razor clams.

            1. re: Jenni_Bee
              Teep RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 26, 2009 06:43 AM

              All along the Spadina strip you can find authentic Chinese cuisine from different regions. Asian Legend is particularly good for Northern style dim sum all day. For Cantonese meals, where you order main dishes plus rice, E Pan is a personal favourite. Big Sky and Taste of China are also good. (Do NOT go to Lee Gardens though.) Peking Duck is a Northern dish but most Cantonese restos serve it as well, I've had it many times at E Pan.

              1. re: Teep
                T Long RE: Teep Mar 26, 2009 07:06 AM

                I'm puzzled by the dislike for Lee Gardens. My only complaint with them would be how crowded it can get when busy. Their prices are a bit higher than E Pan (also my favorite on that strip), but the food is quite good. It's relatively clean, and the service is normal. Also its seems its liked by both non-asians and asians. I think they are a good example of Toronto's excellent Cantonese cuisine.

                1. re: T Long
                  Teep RE: T Long Mar 26, 2009 07:33 AM

                  It used to be our favourtie but it went downhill. The last straw was when we ordered the "pan fried black cod", it came out with a thick batter (like fish and chips). Granted that was a few years ago, maybe they've picked up again, but with other great choices around, why risk it.

                  1. re: T Long
                    redearth RE: T Long Mar 27, 2009 06:04 AM

                    I agree - it's gone downhill... Too expensive for the quality, IMO. But they do have one dish that I'll go back for - Golden Tofu Balls. Yummo!

                    1. re: redearth
                      Teep RE: redearth Mar 27, 2009 08:08 AM

                      This is probably what is called Pipa Tofu, which is found in most Cantonese restos. Don't usually order it so can't tell you where there are good ones.

            2. ChalkBoy RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 26, 2009 07:11 AM

              Swatow or King Noodle (both on Spadina just north of Dundas). Swatow is a bit of a dump and features food that's a cross between Cantonesse and Szechwan. Very popular, as is KN (nicer decor but just as hectic). E Pan is probably the "fanciest" in Chinatown (ie modern decor) and not that much more expensive.

              Never understood the popularity of Asian Legend. V. average imho.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChalkBoy
                Teep RE: ChalkBoy Mar 26, 2009 07:35 AM

                Swatow and King serve good noodle dishes. Their dinner entrees aren't that great.

              2. c
                CoffeeAddict416 RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 26, 2009 07:47 AM

                On chow i never see Hua Sang on baldwin mentioned. It's a fave for when my richmond hill Cantonese fiends are "forced" to eat Chinese downtown :)

                Their specialty is double lobsters done in either black bean sauce or garlic and ginger. Anything they throw their black bean sauce on is good. Their lobsters, clams, and razor clams are kept live in a tank until serving.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CoffeeAddict416
                  f
                  FresserGuy RE: CoffeeAddict416 Mar 28, 2009 12:32 PM

                  I second the recc of Hua Sang. I've always enjoyed it, and not only are there lobsters great, everything else is too. It's usually filled with mostly Chinese families, which I take as a good sign. We've had a dish of sauteed Chinese greens -don't know what it is called, but they make it great! Their eggplant is wonderful - it comes in a pot, with minced pork, garlic, etc and the eggplant is incredibly soft and yummy. I also enjoy their cantonese chow mein, and their singapore style vermicelli noodles. The only dish I haven't liked there is the General Tso chicken - only ordered because my son wanted it, but I found it overly sweet and goopy. I find their prices quite reasonable too, with very large portions.

                2. JonasBrand RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 26, 2009 09:39 AM

                  In the downtown Spadina corridor the best bet is New Sky (Cantonese).

                  Asian Legend is a corporate chain and offers only standard fare, the one exception being AL's soup dumplings which are tasty.

                  For the best szechuan in Toronto, you'll want to head north to Szechuan Legend (no relation to AL).

                  -----
                  New Sky
                  353 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G3, CA

                  Szechuan Legend
                  3280 Midland Ave, Toronto, ON M1V, CA

                  1. j
                    Jenni_Bee RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 27, 2009 04:30 AM

                    Thanks for all of the replies! I think we'll be skipping the AL in favor of one of these other places.

                    1. d
                      daddyg RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 27, 2009 10:15 AM

                      I like Wah Too Seafood on Dundas. Great food.

                      1. m
                        mussetto RE: Jenni_Bee Mar 29, 2009 10:07 AM

                        Because eating Chinese is a communal affair it is important to know what dishes are house/regional specialties of that restaurant. Chinese people think of it as an art to banter with the wait staff about what dishes are fresh and specialties of the house to formulate a best of the best menu with the right balance of seafood, meat and veg, balanced mix of textures, intense and gentle flavours, etc. etc. It is the difference between and ok or terrible meal and an exceptional meal.

                        Dishes that were authentic and delish downtown.

                        New Sky: whole grouper tail and tofu ( not hot-pot version), taro nest with scallops and veg

                        Rol-san: Crispy beef, Cantonese fried egg noodle (authentic) long beans with pork and chillies

                        Xam Yu- fresh prawns, fresh lobster with green onions and ginger, razor clams

                        Asian Legend- soup dumplings, not a bad version of dan dan mein or spicy noodles, custard bread.

                        Have not been to LWH for dinner I tend to like the loud hustle and bustle of cheaper restaurants- reminds me of meals in HK.

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