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Jul 21, 2009 12:16 PM


It's been years since I've been to Toronto. I'll be coming in on Friday and would like to have a REALLY good asian meal on this night!

Memory and locations fail me, but I recall the last time I had (I think) szechuan - really spicy!! - at a small unassuming place near the waterfront possibly and it was absolutely ace!

What is the absolute best (not trendiest, fanciest, high end, most expensive, popular) but hands down best Chinese food served in Toronto?? Don't want to spend too much, but would like a really enjoyable meal!

Also: any recommendations for mexican and/or seafood before leaving the next day??

Might sneak in an early afternoon meal... and Mexican for lunch will probably be the choice!

Any suggestions, advice, help?


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  1. The best of the best is lai wah heen, but it is indeed high end and expensive.

    Mexican isn't Toronto's strong point. Strong seafood restaurants would be Chiado or Starfish.

    1 Reply
    1. re: aser

      I would add Zee Grill for fish.
      Chaido is more expensive, and I am among the minority on this board who don't like Starfish.
      If you want the Giant Lobster ways go to O-Mei on Hwy 7
      Charles introduced this to the board and I always take New Yorkers there, as everything in N.Y. is better, but they don't seem to have this dish.

    2. If you're dead set on Mexican, the food at Milagro isn't bad.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dr. No

        Milagro is very decent, with locations in the downtown and uptown. If you are looking for something a bit more casual, El Trompo on Augusta in Kensington Market has good tacos, Mexican beers, and decent margaritas. A nice opportunity to wander through that area, as well. If you're in town this weekend, Kensington will be doing a pedestrian Sunday, with a lot more street food and some buskers, which can be good fun.

      2. If you're not opposed to traveling up to the suburbs, Charles_Yu just made a post regarding Emperor: I also really liked Yang's (yet another Charles_Yu recommendation). There are far more great Chinese restaurants north of downtown.

        aser is right though: LWH downtown is exceptional (for dim sum at least).

        1. The waterfront Chinese restaurant that you are thinking about may be Pearl Harbourfront in Queens Quay Terminal. Second floor on south end of building. Unfortunately, IMO the quality went down 4 or 5 years ago.

          1. IMO, trying to single out the 'best' Chinese restaurant in Toronto is as challenging as trying to single out, say, the best French restaurant in New York!

            Every good Chinese restaurants mentioned on this board all have 'wow factor' signature dish(s) that really stand out whilst at the same time also feature other 'attractive sounding' dishes that can be hit and miss and a total waste of money!. The secret, IMO, is to pick a restaurant that features enough consistent signature dishes in their repetoire that can be combined to form a self contained meal. For example, in the case of O'Mei, for a group of 6, say. One can order a giant lobster 4 ways, add their signature meat dish - House special roasted free range chicken and their signature veggie dishes - stirred fry Chinese broccoli with diced dried tile fish and Braised eggplant with enoki mushrooms,conpoy and oyster sauce and voila, you have an instant seven course dinner. For an additional $10, you can even add a plate of their stand out 'sweet and sour' pork too! Another option could be the Lobster two ways of Wu-Yi Villa ( stirred fry tail meat and lobster croquettes combo ), combined their yummy hand roasted squabs, stirred fry fillet of flounder with crunchy deep fry bones, one or two veggie dishes...etc and you'll have another 'tough to decide' choice!

            For the money that Lai Wah Heen is charging, especially if exotic items like sharksfin, steamed live fish, fresh seafood etc., are in your radar, then, one can travel up by subway to Finch subway station, grab a taxi and head out to one of a handful of great restaurants in the Richmond Hill / Markham area, have a similar quality meal, take the same way back and have enough change for coffees at Starbuck!.

            The restaurants which I would select from would include: Yang's, Emperor, Regal Palace, Wu-Yi Villa, O Mei and Regal16 ( Yes skylineR33, I've just had two independent feed back from foodie friends that quality has returned at Regal16 ). Not to mention Casa Victoria, Judy's Cuisine, Fantasy Eatery, Legend, Tanchikee, Ambassador......etc and the list can go on and on! BTW, this is only my list! Wait till other Chinese foodie masters like skylineR33, Aser, Bokchoi, Royaljelly.....start chipping in! You'll be lost!!

            Good luck and have fun deciding!!

            12 Replies
            1. re: Charles Yu

              Totally agree with you, but you know how most tourists are, they prefer to stay w/i the downtown core. Hence the LWH recommendation.

              Good to hear Regal 16 has bounced back.

              If the OP can give us examples of dishes he's looking for, that can help reduce the list. Also, are you eating solo or w/ _ people?

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Hi Charles, I am in total agreement with you too ! Not much to add !

                My last time to Regal 16 is around 1 to 2 month ago, however the food is really mediocre. The crab roe thick sauce shark fin still has good flavor but the double "gold-hook" braised shark fin is so dull and lack of taste. The soy sauce chicken is watery. Maybe I will give it a try again with the positive feedback from your friends, thanks !

                OliveB, if you can let us know what kind of chinese cuisine you want to try or any specify dish/item, the size of your group, budget, we can further help you narrow it down.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  my favourite chinese (authentic, i lived in singapore for a year) is peters chung king on college just west of spadina. the moo shoo pork is out of this world, and i don't think i've ever had anything i didn't like. its lacking on atmosphere, but its clean, fast, and the dumplings are amazing.

                  you won't be disappointed.

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      Even if it's not closed, I don't think Peters is in the same league as the afore mentioned list of suggested 'Best Chinese'. For great dumplings and spicy szechuen cuisine. Again the best are now located in Scarborough/Markham/Richmond Hill. Sorry!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        So Peter's is well & truly closed and I don't want to drive UP NORTH at least not for an everyday dinner..........CHARLES YU...please suggest one downtown for us..Szechuan preferably..we just had this conversation at our house last night...Peter's was 'at one time' really good, yes, the bathrooms were truly appalling (always) but the food in the end was acceptable for the most part but now...........Suggestions from all CH'ers welcome not just Charles..downtown only please and thanks.......

                      2. re: TorontoJo

                        do you mean CLOSED as in closed for good? been going there for more than 20 years and it has come as a surprise to a number of us here who work nearby.

                          1. re: TorontoJo

                            thanks TorontoJo .. gonna miss that place.

                    2. re: skylineR33

                      We were at Regal 16 this week, and found the food to be just O.K.
                      The crab in shell appetizer needed some vinegar and hot sauce to bring it to life.
                      Once this was taken care of it was quite good.
                      The 2 lb. Lobster was a bit overcooked, but this could happen anywhere, but the abundant green onion, ginger Garlic was tasteless.
                      I don't even know how this is possible.
                      Possibly the lack of seasoning and Sesame Oil?
                      The really bad dish was the Rice in Lotus Leaf with duck and seafood.
                      It was not glutinous rice, and tasteless to the point that we didn't even want to dress it up.
                      The filling was not abundant with the exception of the rice.
                      Even the Snowpea Leaves were just O.K.
                      I will say that there is not as much oil in their cooking, which is healthy, but we were disappointed as this was our first and last time there, unless someone tells us we ordered the wrong dishes.

                      1. re: erly

                        Regal 16's specialty is shark fin as its chinese name actually translated to "Regal 16 Shark Fin seafood restaurant". Probably you won't go there again, but if you have a chance to visit Regal 16, try out their "crab roe thick sauce shark fin", it is one of their famous dish. Their "chicken swallowed shark fin" double broiled is also a very nice soup (the shark fin is stuffed into the chicken and then double boiled together with other ingradients in a big pot). However it seems like many of the other dishes there are bland and mediocre.

                    3. re: Charles Yu

                      but what are the signature dishes of these great richmond hill/markham restaurants? I want to go to them but no idea what to order in any of them. thanks in advance for anyone's input