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May 12, 2009 06:05 PM

chinese resto recs for visiting nyc'ers


So a few of my friends are coming down from New York for Memorial Day weekend and plan to hit up the wineries in Niagra and do a little bit of touring in Toronto. They are asian and are very much interested in trying the chinese restaurants for dim sum and dinner possibly? If anything, I figure great chinese food is something that's not too abundant in NYC over our other local specialities. They have a car and are willing to head up the 'burbs provided it isn't too much out of the woods... :)

Any suggestions for chinese restaurants up north or downtown (can't think of any for downtown off the top of my head really)? And while we're at it-any recs for wineries out niagra worth visiting?

I haven't been able to make it up to some of the restos up north but I've heard good things about Tanchikee, Ruby and I've been to the Grand myself so that's great for dim sum but I would appreciate further thoughts. Also recommended Chiado since I know they love seafood and not sure if upscale portuguese is something that can be obtained in new york.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. How many Chinese meals are you planning to eat?

    If you are willing to head up north, the choice is unlimited!!! However, I would stick with Cantonese since IMO , TO's version and choices are far superior to what NYC has to offer!

    My choice in no particular order would include at least the following:

    O'Mei, John's b-b-q, Yang's, Emperor, Judy's Cuisine and Tanchikee in Richmond Hill

    Sun star, Fantasy Eatery, Casa Victoria and Maple Yip in Markham/Scarborough

    With the change in head chef and/or owner, I would stay away the the previously mentioned favourites such as Dragon Dynasty, Casa Imperial and Full House.

    If you can narrow down your criteria and wants, may be I can provide you with a finer and more detailed breakdown.

    Lastly, In addition to my own, I'm sure fellow chowhound Chinese food experts such as SkylineR33, Aser, Bokchoi, Royaljelley....etc will have plenty to contribute!

    14 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Well thank you for your informed recommendations Charles! I was hoping I could count on your expertise! :) My friends are planning to have 2 chinese meals max-so I was thinking Tanchikee as per the lovely write up you contributed to a few months ago in Blog T.O. Nonetheless, I am really game for anything as long as they are willing to drive up there! How about dim sum would you recommend any of those mentioned above for a dim sum lunch? I've suggested Grand but that will be really far considering they are staying downtown.

      Anyways thanks again!

      1. re: deabot

        This thread is pretty much a wrap, the bases are covered.

        One little thing I want to add though. With most Chinese restaurants having such big menus, there are bound to be duds at each place. So it's best to remember the region of cuisine the restaurant specializes in and stick to ordering those dishes. Example would be, don't get mapo tofu (Sichuan) at a Shanghainese joint (dumplings).

        I like Yang's for dim sum the most, best balance between quality and price amongst the higher tier places. If money is no object, then head to LWH. In terms of variation, one thing not mentioned on this post so far is vegetarian, my pick for that is Graceful Vegetarian.

        If it's one and perhaps the only thing Toronto is better than NYC at foodwise, it's Chinese.

        1. re: aser

          "pretty much a wrap"

          This is pretty much the same for western restaurants as well, Splendido, Scaramouche, Nota Bene, Colborne Lane and may be a few new one like Loire. There is just not too many restaurant in Toronto.

          For chinese food, it is usually best to go with 4-5 people to share food. The menu of a chinese restaurants are always hugh with tons of items. For a more expensive restaurants (especially cantonese restaurant) such as Yangs', Empire Court or John's BBQ (which things can be very expensive there), and if you really want to taste the best of what the restaurant can offer (provided money is not too much of a concern), call in advance and have a customized menu to feature the best of what the restaurant can do.

          1. re: skylineR33

            "There is just not too many restaurant in Toronto".


            1. re: ChalkBoy

              I am comparing the number to other big cities of the world relatively. This can be shown by the repetitve recommendation of "good" restaurants on this board either it is Chinese restaurant, or non-chinese restaurant. For dim sum as an example in Toronto area, where many are ok, there are less than 5 which I call "good dim sum" in overall.

      2. re: Charles Yu

        Charles got a great list ! Just some more info here for deabot.

        Omei has quite a lots of write up here already, first choice for lobster.

        Tanchikee is a good wok hay restaurant, but service is ridiculously slow.

        John's BBQ, best to call them up and have a customized menu for your group if your chinese friend can speak cantonese, or at least call advance for items such as the double-broiled premium soup, "Pipa" roasted duck, "Grapefruit peel" Soya chicken, all these need to reserve one day advance.

        Yang is good with the dinner set (but don't order the cheapest one).

        Maple Yip for the steamed whole scallop on shell if you are early before it is sold out (or call to check in advance), or the steamed fish with Soya sauce which is also really nice.

        In my opinion, Grand is not really worth the drive at all, quality can easily be matched up by Yangs or Empire Court in Richmond Hill or you can get much better dim sum at Lai Wah Heen (downtown, but more expensive).

        There are still a lots more to offer in Toronto for Chinese food, enjoy !

        1. re: skylineR33

          For Dim Sum, why bother driving up north?! Lai Wah Heen downtown provides top notch Dim Sum that we Torontonians are proud of and would love to show off to their NYC 's visiting friends!

          If you have a whole group of people, then, instead of Tanchikee, I would settle for O'Mei and its unique 'Lobster 4 ways'! You won't get that in NYC or even Hong Kong!

          SkylinR33's recommendation on what to order at John's B-B-Q is spot on. To that list, I would also add their 'King of B-B-Q pork!" Cooked when order. Hard to beat!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            I echo Charles -- Lai Wah Heen is fantastic for dim sum and is right in the core. It's a little pricey and I personally prefer Grand, but given that Grand is a bit of a trek, I think LWH is the clear winner under these circumstances.

            1. re: Charles Yu

              Its probably been mentioned in previous posts but how much doe the Lobster 4 ways cost? Is it a complete meal or just part of a meal?


              1. re: szw

                Depending on market pricing, an average 7 pounder would cost around $140. Enough for a party of at least 6-7 person. Add a plate of veggie and a couple of meat dishes and all of you will be stuffed! BTW, dessert is usually complimentary.
                FYI, the four ways are usually:
                - Steamed claws with minced garlic and Xiao Shing wine.
                - Deep fried head pieces with peppered salt
                - ' House secret' sauteed lobster tail pieces
                - Fried rice or E-fu noodles with tomale ( prefer the latter )

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  holy crap that sounds yummy!!! Thank you to everyone for their excellent suggestions! I will be sure to forward the recs on and hope that I can set aside some time to join them! Esp for lobster 4 ways!

                  1. re: deabot

                    If your friends really like Lobster and if you have enough people, order two 9 lbs Lobster and do a Lobster 6 ways !! We had 11 people one time and did that.

              2. re: Charles Yu

                While I agree that Lai Wah Heen is top notch, it's a bit formal for bringing out-of-town relatives, no? I would want to give them a more traditional dim sum experience myself.

                I think Yangs, which I tried on Charles' recommendation, is the perfect combination of excellent food and a nicer atmosphere than the usual dim sum joints but less formal than Lai Wah Heen.

          2. Since I was scanning a menu for sukhothai, I figured I would throw a few others I had lying around that pertains to this thread. Yang's menu is quite recent, while the Casa menu is from a couple of years ago, could've seen some changes.



            1. Lai Wah Heen is a good place to try out for dim sum, then I would give Ambassador a try for dinner.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Seth_G

                I had the lobster 4 ways at O-Mei 2 weeks ago. Yes it cost about $140 not including tip it was a 6.75lb lobster. BRING YOUR CAMERA TO TAKE PICS AND SHOW YOUR FRIENDS!

                We didn't know what the 4 ways were. And I don't think the waiter explained how they were gonna cook it.

                We got the (1) steamed scallions and garlic with mung bean noodles that was good, but a bit oily. (2) Stirred fried (i guess this is the house secret) -- that was my favourite, (3) deep fried (you can forget this), and (4) fried rice with tamale.

                If we had known before, would have just preferred the steamed and the house secret.
                I prefer my tamales steamed.... so I would have wanted that with the first dish.
                I think you can forget the deep fried, they use the legs for that. You can't get at it at the restaurants, I saw most people brought it home, so did we.

                But they put too much garlic. I would have had them only put half of what they put. Its way too much!
                How come no one has mentioned that. Is it only me who thinks they are heavy handed with garlic?

                1. re: Chocaholic

                  It is just preference, we enjoy with the amount of garlic they use.

                  Agree the if the Lobster is only 6 pounds something, the salt and pepper deep fried lobster leg dish has not much to eat, it is more for a 10 to 12 pounds lobster with bigger legs.

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    Ooooh if I only new that before hand!

                    1. re: Chocaholic

                      But how about the head pieces in the deep fried dish ? There is not much meat in there too ?

                      1. re: skylineR33

                        There was meat in the head pieces. Just like the tail!