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Chinese Restaurant (GTA)

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  • KevH Jul 27, 2009 02:13 PM

Hi all.

After reading the previous post on Chinese restaurant in GTA, I am actually looking for a good one for a birthday dinner on a Friday night.

My family is quite picky with their Chinese food, and often times, good food = bad service or pushy wait staff who wants to get rid of us asap.

I am looking to spend somewhere between $300 to $500 for the dinner (for a table of ~10).

Lah Toe Heen/Lai Wah Heen is my first choice, but my family would prefer something more "authentic" and they much prefer the atomsphere of a normal "chinese seafood restaurant".

I was quite happy with the dinners I had at Omei (峨嵋), Diamond Banquet (鑽石) at First Markham Place and Golden Court (黃金閣) but I always felt that I was being rushed to leave by bringing the food to our table to the point where all the food is on the table stacked on top of each other, which really drives me nuts. The problem is that we usually like to dine around 6:00 pm, so they usually have a 2nd seating coming.

My question is, is there any good, authentic Cantonese restaurant (as little MSG as possible) that is not pushy and would let my group sit around to talk and socialize? The restaurant should be at least comfortable and relatively clean, and the staff not high-brow and snooty.

I am flexible on location within GTA (Richmond Hill, Markham, Downtown, Midtown...etc) and really wanted to try something new.

That being said, is there any Catonese Restaurant in the GTA that has good quality food (minimal MSG) that is fairly comfortable? My friends have recently recommended a "private house restaurant" (私房菜) at Don Mills and Finch, but I am worried that the food quality would be inconsistent and I dont get as much bang for my bucks since they price the food based on how much you are looking to spend.

Anyone can recommend a good place beside the following?

Omei (峨嵋) - pushy/rushed
Lah Wah Heen/Lah Toe Heen (麗華軒/麗陶軒) - atomshpere too "high-end"
Golden Court Abalone Restaurant (黃金閣) - pushy/rushed
Dynasty Downtown (松柏軒) - never really wanted to go back since they changed hands
Golden Regency Richmond Hill + Markham (金王朝) - rushed, terrible service
Regal 16 (百福) - didn't like the service
Casa Victoria (紫爵金宴) - this is a maybe/possibility...
Paradise (世外桃園) - I was told to avoid at all cost.
Casa Imperial (名門金宴) - Terrible service
Ambassador (春秋食軒) - didn't like their food
Lengend (forgot the chinese name)
Dragon Dynasty (龍騰金閣) - pushy staff
Spring Villa (愉園新閣) - bad experience

Thanks!

Is the new chinese restraurent by Maxim up in Bayview and Weldrick any good? How about the other one that has been recently changed hand around Bayview and Blackmore?

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  1. There are quite a few reviews regarding the restaurant at Bayview/Weldrick (Yang's), Bayview/Blackmore (Emperor), just do a search. There are also a new one at Bayview/7 called Regal Palace, good food but not so good service, you can search for reviews too. The 'private kitchen' one you are referring to is Fantaxia, food there is ok, but environment is not that good, they are light on MSG though. There is also some review on it if you search on this board.

    Have you ever ordered a banquet set dinner before at any of these restaurants ? You won't be rushed if you tell the manager it is a birthday and reserve the banquet set in advance. I am never rushed when having birthday banquet in these places. Do you plan to spend $300-$500 (everything inclusive - tax, drink, tips ? ) for 10 people ? You will probably get a low to mid-low end banquet dinner set at Emperor and Yangs.

    1. Yang's, IMO, has gone downhill a bit recently. For good food and service, I think you'll like Emperor at corner of Bayview and Blackmoor.

      1. Empire Court?

        2 Replies
        1. re: T Long

          Changed hands a few months ago, including the kitchen. Same name in English, same location, but different name in Cantonese. The food and service are no longer what they used to be and it's acceptable, but not for the prices they're still charging when better food can be had elsewhere and very close as well.

          1. re: lsk

            Thanks for the info.....not hanging on to key kitchen staff has always been the bane of Chinese restaurants.

        2. I am assuming you have proficiency w/ Chinese since you can type in Big 5. Best bet is to book in advance and order a set banquet. Speak with a manager and discuss, you can manage at that price point if you avoid things like sea cucumber, abalone, shark's fin, geoduck. Dishes are generally served one at a time for banquet meals, and often the staff will plate individual portions.

          Another suggestion if you feel like vegetarian is Graceful Vegetarian.

          http://www.agveg.ca

          1. Thanks everyone. I will try to dig into the forum and see what I can find.

            I have had banquet set dinner in most of them myself, others my parents had tried. The ones I have had banquets set dinners, we were rushed every single time, even when I told them to slow down. This one time we were so upset we refused to leave the table until we finished our alotted "sitting time". This is definitely something I don't want to happen again, but it seems that it happens over and over again everytime.

            The price I mentioned is for the food price only. I try not to go for those "all-inclusive" price, since the quality of service deteriorates once they know they already have the tips for the dinner (this happened at Golden Regency at Commerce Gate, I was really upset, the service was absolutely terrible). The problem is that I have not tried these places before, so even though the menu is good for the price, if the food ended up being not up to par, then we would be very disappointed. It seems that when we tried these places, they are hit or misses, it's never consistent, unlike the mid to late 90s with Dynasty and Bayview Court downtown.

            Based on Chowhounds' recommendation, looks like I'm going to check out:

            Yang's
            Emperor
            Wu Yi Villa

            I have tried Empire Court as well.

            Anyone tried La Chine Cuisine (粵式生香)? My mom also tried Dragon Boat (凱龍船), but she had quite a bit of heartburn from the MSG in the food there.

            Looks like I will need to take a trip around town to get some flyers at the restaurants. My Ming Pao has very little detail on their selections (maybe because I'm looking at the Monday paper), not to mention trying to figure out which is which in English.

            I lover Graceful Vegetarian. Always amazed by how they can managed to mimick the meats.

            Cheers

            5 Replies
            1. re: KevH

              You are rushed every single time ? That's a bit weird to me...anyway I agree that there are service issue with many of the restaurants in your list. In an important dinner, I usually give some tips to the captain who I make the reservation with before the dinner, this is pretty common and usually I get better service.

              Many of the banquet set especially for those between $300 to $500 has some kind of inclusive in the price such as tips, tax, drink or a combination of these.

              There are also some La Chine reviews on these board. I recently tried it again for a ~$500 banquet dinner, ok but nothing momerable, it has some kind of fusion mixed with cantonese cuisine, so may not be something for you if you prefer something more "authentic". Also had a banquet at Dragon Boat recently, quality has went downhill quite a bit with the ~$550 dinner set I tried in there. I am not rush in both banquet though. Of course I am not comparing to the speed I had my meal at Splendido.

              Yangs is more expensive compared to La Chine and Dragon Boat but quality is better, I wonder if there is anything that is within $500 for a decent banquet set there. Wu Yi is new and can get very expensive. But I see they are promoting a ~$330 banquet set, and there is a private room (which fit one table and has private washroom) there which you can try to book. However, its a very new restaurant so there may still be some issue that they are trying to smoothen out. The manager and some staffs are from Jade Garden which used to be at Leslie/Finch.

              Also, bear in mind now is the busy season for wedding, so you may run into the night (even you want Friday) where there is a wedding banquet at a bigger restaurant such as Emperor or Casa Victoria ... the service may be very slow, but at the same time you will have more time to chat in between course if this is what you want ?! haha.

              1. re: skylineR33

                Thanks skylineR33. It is possible that when we are out for dinner, it's the special occasions or "good chinese days", and the banquet is only for 1 table.

                If the food is good, I don't mind paying a bit more, especially if I have some reassurance from foodies in here.

                My parents used to go out to a lot of these places for dinners, but they end up leaving disappointed most of the time, so we have not been dining out in these places as often as before, especially forking out $500+ for a banquet meal with a group of relatives/friends.

                BTW Where is Regal Palace? Is this the location where Bayview Garden/Court used to be at Chalmer and Hwy 7?

                1. re: KevH

                  Yes, Regal Palace is the location where Bayview Garden was. I would recommend Yangs', it is one of the best service restaurant in Richmond Hill/Markham because it seems service is a very important factor to you. But it is more expensive though. But our food expert Charles reported it has gone downhilla bit recently ?! But even with that, it should be pretty good ?!

                  1. re: skylineR33

                    My parents are quite picky, but if they are satisfied, then I would imagine they would be pretty good.

                2. re: skylineR33

                  I would have to agree with skylineR33 on his assessment of La Chine. I had a meal there a while back and was in no rush to return based on my experience. ( http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/549144 ). It was nothing amazing, and though they tried to execute their dishes at a higher level, all their dishes fell flat for me.

                  I still have to type up a long-ish review for one of my favourite Chinese restaurants in Scarborough, Ruby Chinese Restaurant. And although it doesn't get much love on the boards, I have found them to be the most consistent out of a lot of restaurants I have eaten at over the years. I've been going almost weekly for about 10-15 years while living in Toronto. Of course, as with most restaurants, one would have to know what to order. Their specialties include their BBQ selections (see if they have fresh suckling pig - when it's done well, it's marvelous and sweet with little fat), including their roast duck and roast chicken (sew gai).

                  Ruby Roast Duck: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Ruby Roast Chicken: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Ruby Roast Pork (not suckling): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                  Some of my favourite dishes are as follows (official names escape me right now, but you will be able to find it on their seasonal menu - not their English menu):
                  Ling Gee Goo with Baby Bok Choi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Fish Fillet with See Gwa (wun yee see gwa yu peen): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Abalone mushroom with snow pea shoots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Seafood nest: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Sole done two ways (fried/sauteed): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                  And the last time I went, they had fresh scallops, steamed with garlic and served with vermicelli for $5 ( a steal IMO): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  You can ask if they still have that special (it's not on the menus, but will be offered by staff if available/you ask

                  )

                  Another must have to fill out your meal is their Ruby Special Fried Rice in Lotus Leaf (prep time 20 minutes): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... it usually comes with shrimp, but we ask them to hold it due to health reasons (their shrimp is nothing special though IMO).

                  Do also check their specials menu at the front board (hand-written). They usually highlight some seasonal goodies, including chicken feet soup, winter melon soup, and pigeon, all at steep discounts (loss leaders). They usually have a minimum person order, but you have a large party, so it shouldn't be an issue. I have seen their Winter Melon Soups go for about $10-15 or so when it regularly sells for $60 with 6 person table (they don't want you to go in and fill up on the soup and leave). It includes conpoy, BBQ roast duck, Chinese ham, and other luxurious fillings.

                  I wouldn't go with one of their banquet meals as I have never been too impressed with them. I find it's better if you order what you want. Their prices are very reasonable as well with many dishes coming in at around $10-17. Dinner for 4 of us usually comes in around $80 when we gorge ourselves and have leftovers for lunch the next day. I forgot to mention that you usually get a free soup (lai tong) with each meal, which helps to fill the belly: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                  The restaurant itself is relatively clean (for Chinese restaurant standards) and the staff all speak English. The atmosphere is pretty relaxed if they don't have a large banquet going on (a Friday night is not a popular wedding evening) as they can seat close to 1000 people in this restaurant.
                  Restaurant: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                  Their use of MSG is minimal, as is their use of fillers/cornstarch. I would know, as I have quite a reaction to MSG when it exceeds a certain point. (That is not to say I would consume their Dim Sum, which is chock-full of MSG goodness).

                  Due to the relatively inexpensive price, you can go on a regular evening and test out a few of the aforementioned dishes and see if it's to your liking. Then you can grab one of their colourful photocopies of the Chinese menu to take home and plan your Birthday dinner. They also have set menus in the same area at the front of the restaurant.

                  Hope this helps

                  Happy Birthday!
                  Cheers and Happy Eating!

              2. Lately, we've been frequenting Maple Yip at Midland/Sheppard. The place is a little bit of a dive compared to, say, Lai Wah Heen, but definitely fits your "atomsphere of a normal chinese seafood restaurant" requirement. The food is very good for the price at no more than $25/person will more than fit your budget. This is an established restaurant that have earned its reputation for good QPR as exemplified by its customers, many of whom are returning regulars. But go early or else be prepared to line up and wait while.

                -----
                Maple Yip Seafood Restaurant
                4227 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M1S5H5, CA

                4 Replies
                1. re: syoung

                  Thanks everyone. Both Maple Yip and Ruby's atomsphere will mose likely be a lot noisier than the others, and not exactly what I am looking for. I do head over there for lunch now and then since my office is close by.

                  I ended up picking between Emperor and Yang's. Since the party has some specific dietary limits with seafood, we picked a banquet menu that has some seafood but should be able to please everyone.

                  Unfortunately, there will be a wedding banquet there on the day we are having the dinner (Aug 7), so, I don't know how they will manage with the food, whether we will be rushed or we will have to wait forever until the banquet is served, I won't know until I try it.

                  Will report after we finish :)
                  The staff seems friendly enough, more so compare to other places I have been to recently.

                  1. re: KevH

                    hi all, does anyone know a great restaurant in downtown Toronto with delicious food? i know its a bit harder to find good food downtown... but will also need to book about 3 tables, if any of these restaurants have private rooms. So far, we're thinking bright pearl, but the food is awful there !
                    thanks ....

                    1. re: niyus

                      Only 'great' one down town IMO is Lai Wah Heen. Price is a bit steep though! Their menus are posted on their website. Just do a Google search! Good luck!

                      -----
                      Lai Wah Heen
                      108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, CA

                      1. re: niyus

                        Xam Yu is probably your best bet on Spadina...love the frogs' legs...Marimba!