Wow! What recession? - Another high end Dim Sum restaurant in Richmond Hill!
Based on our resident Chinese food expert SkylineR33's suggestion, my family and I gave the new Regal Palace on 350 Highway 7 East, Unit 101 in Richmond Hill a try this lunch time! Nice, sleek and open space, its like a cross between Yang's and Casa Victoria?! Apparently most of the staff were from the once favoured Full House Restaurant across the street!
On skylineR33's advise, upon sitting down, we immediately ordered two plates of their acclaimed ' Best bun under the sky'. Not on the regular menu, this 85% rendition of the famous Hong Kong Fu-Sing version arrived piping hot after a 15 minutes wait. These 'kid size hamburger' buns was lightly glazed in honey, the sweet dough bun smothered in a most delicious, thick and runny B-B-Q pork stuffing! Very tasty and ultra addictive! This must be one of the best Dim Sum dish I've come across in Toronto! To save room for the rest, I only ate two of this delicacies. The first time I came across this nouveau varietal of a B-B-Q pork bun in Hong Kong's Fu-Sing, I gobbled down 5!!!! BTW, the Michelin 3* Lung King Heen inside Hong Kong's Fourseason hotel also make an awesome version!! So, in a way, we are fortunate to savour a close clone of this 'star calibred' dish.
The rest of the Dim Sum dishes included the usual regular favourites like Har Gow, Steamed glutunous rice wrapped with lotus leaf, Steamed spare ribs with black bean and olives, Abalone puff, Pan fried turnip patties, Deep fried taro croquettes, Steamed rice roll with jumbo shrimps, Deep fried chicken wings and Lychee/Goji seed jelly pudding! Of the above captioned list, the stand out was the mouth burning, piping hot Abalone puff. Lots of juicy filling in a light, flaky and crunchy shell. The seasoning of the spare ribs was also very bold and delicious. Overall, a very satisfying experience. Total bill comes to around $55 for the 3 of us before tax and tips. Pretty good value for the quality!
Within a span of less than 6 months, in the middle of a so called recession, I've noticed the opening of at least three top end Chinese restaurants in Richmond Hill alone! Emperor, Yang's and Regal Palace come into mind. On the other hand, downtown has seen its share of closings and restaurants down sizing like Boba, Perigee, Susur, Splendido, Atelier Thuet , Rain to name a few! Most interesting scenario!!
Having eaten there twice (light dim sum lunch 6 weeks ago and birthday dinner just this week) so far, I like the food at Regal Palace as well, especially since Chinese restaurants in Toronto tend to salt their food more heavily than the preferences of my family and we find Regal Palace willing to tone down the salt level. However, the service needs serious improvement before I frequent this place again, which is like shooting myself in the foot, or rather, taste buds.
Maggi lobster, composed from a 5 lb-er, was surprisingly tender, sweet, cooked to the appropriate doneness, and best of all, not too heavy on the salt. I normally don't like Maggi lobster, preferring it steamed or stir-fried with ginger and scallion, as I find the seasoning is often too salty or masks the sweet flavour of the lobster itself, but this was not the case at Regal Palace. The "white cut" chicken was remarkably tender and flavourful even without the scallion/ginger condiment. Fried rice with egg white and conpoy was executed nicely.
However, the roasted pigeon is no longer what it used to be at Full House, which was a real disappointment. Maybe it was an off night, but I'm quite sad about it, especially since I considered it even better than the renditions I've had in Hong Kong. This isn't to say it wasn't a decent execution of the dish, just that it wasn't like how good it used to be at Full House.
Also, the service is not impressive. My aunt, when ordering her birthday dinner, specified she wanted "sau bao" (birthday buns) instead of the assorted jellies on the set menu for dessert. The assistant manager (?) even promised to throw in an extra bun since the set menu was only for twelve instead of thirteen.
However, when the time came for dessert, the waitress set down jellies and wore a look of confusion when my aunt told her she had ordered buns instead of jellies. There was no apology from the waitress or the assistant manager/head waiter on duty that night even though the waitress did say, after asking the kitchen, that the buns were not written on the menu that the kitchen received.
If this was at a Chinese restaurant with a lower price point, this matter would not be such an issue with me. However, when considering the prices one is paying and the plethora of high-end Chinese restaurants in the area to which we could take our business, one would expect some sort of acknowledgment of mistake and apology. There was none and from the very beginning of the night, the service was gloomy to say the least. The waitstaff have airs and facial expressions more appropriate for a funeral.
The restaurant is perhaps understaffed at this point and needs time to get used to things and polish the service as it has opened only a few months ago. I will also say that the manager (?), Peter, with whom we normally deal, wasn't on duty that night. However, the assistant manager with whom we've dealt repeatedly at Full House didn't come over and acknowledge his mistake. Maybe I'm asking too much of a restaurant, especially one in Toronto, but a simple "Sorry" could have gone a long way to remedy the awful impression my family and I have of this nascent restaurant. I'll try Regal Palace again, maybe in a few months, for this "best bun under the sky" (my mouth watered whilst reading CY's description), but right now, I'm less than impressed with Regal Palace's service.
Glad you like the 'Best bun under the sky'. Thanks for the review. I agree with you and Isk that their service is really not up to par.
Their 5 spice cuttlefish tentacle is also some of the best in Toronto, I think it is better than the one at Casa Imperial and Yangs. And the Abalone puff as mentioned in your post is excellent !! However, other dishes I have tried there such as the cheung fan, clear broth beef tendon .... are mediocre IMO.
Isk, I have also tried their banquet dinner set. Here is a review which I have also post in another thread. I found their pigeon still one of the best in Toronto based on the one I tried there, do you have other suggestion for a nice pigeon in Toronto ?
For the dinner at Regal Palace, we had the Buddha jumps over wall banquet set dinner which need to be reserved in advance.
The buddha jumps over wall double-boiled soup is one urn per person. It has a very strong flavour clear chicken soup base with Shark fin, a whole dried abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw, whole dried scallop, etc...
The roasted pigeon is excellent as the chef is from Full House, very juicy, some of the best in Toronto area, if you like roasted pigeon, this is the place to go to.
The Maggie sauce lobster has very good soy aroma and wok hay.
The dried sea cucumber with dried shrimp roe sauce is ok, the dried shrimp roe flavour is not strong enough.
The deep fried whole sole fish is so crispy that eating the bone is like eating potato chip, not all the cantonese restaurant in Toronto can make it that crispy.
Regarding service in HK as mentioned in Isk's post, just want to add it can be much worst depends where you go, the service at some of the old fashioned "famous" chinese restaurant in HK can be quite arrogrant.
Unfortunately, Full House used to be my favourite until it slid downhill and I've been away for a while in HK, so I'm not yet up to date on what's good. However, I'm willing to give Regal Palace another shot, since I would love to recapture the taste of their roasted pigeon.
I remember having the Buddha Jumps Over Wall double-boiled soup back at Full House a few years ago; it was executed very well -- almost too well, as it rendered most of my table unable to finish the dishes that came afterward.
re: Charles Yu
ok thanks, I'll be checking it out. I've driven past it a bunch of times and noticed the sign.
The culture of eating out is just more prevalent w/ Chinese. Although everybody lives in big houses now, back home they were stuck in small apts w/ tiny kitchens. The cheaper price points of Chinese restaurants sure helps too.
For me the price of entry to a really good Chinese dinner is easily more tolerable than a mediocre/average meal at a Western cuisine restaurant. Dim Sum for 3 for $55 at a very very good restaurant?!? Compare that to lunch at $30-$40 per person, not including alcohol at say Nota Bene or brunch at Thuet's bakery.
Maybe that's why Chinese restaurants can thrive while high-end Western restaurants are suffering.
We enjoy eating out at western restaurants as well but we tend to do that only when we are on vacation in NYC, LA or Vegas.
In toronto, $15/person at Judy's cuisine can get us a very good meal. Same goes for Magic Wok. We are stuffed and will have leftovers.
$50/person at Casa Victoria will get us fancy dinner with shark fin and lobster. So in TO, we tend to stick to great tasting Cantonese feasts.
The only thing is I keep reading about the recession specials at Robuchon in Landmark, Spoon, Felix and other restaurants in HK. think it's time for another business trip.
A $50/person meal at Casa Victoria won't get you too far with shark fin. However I agree, the price range of an expensive chinese restaurant is so big that a meal can run from $50 to $500 per person ! As CoffeeAddict416 said, the price of entry to a really good Chinese dinner is more easily tolerable.