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dim sum downtown - Forestview vs Rol San?

I know we've had a few postings about dim sum lately but I've been through them and was wondering if anyone can help me narrow down my choices between Forestview, Rol San and Yiu Mah (sp?). Thoughts? I have never been to any of them....which one is your favourite?

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  1. My choices are always dictated by cart service, so I end up at Sky Dragon. But Rol San is always tasty, and the service is great.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Everythingtarian

      I've not been to Yiu Wah, but of the three, Rol San is probably the best. I believe the other two have the "early bird special" as the main draw - cheaper before 11 am or some such.

      1. i preferred forestview most but their ingredients have taken a bit of a dive and so i haven't been there in a while. some people have complained of it being too greasy, which hasn't been an issue for me, but as with all cart service places... a poor location and bad circulation/lack of busyness can mean cold food. during the regular dining hours it is definitely busy enough.

        rol san has given me obviously old reheated food and felt that yelling back at me about it was appropriate. i do not go there any longer. i found their food fine but not really much better than the rest and they're certainly the most expensive. i actually felt theirs was greasy.

        for cheapness and reasonable quality yiu wah seems to be where my family now goes in the downtown area. it looks to be among the cheapest of the bunch (i think it's even cheaper than kim moon) and is ok but not great. for example, i don't think i've ever had a har gow skin not break there and it's variation in size and thickness is quite random.

        1. I like Rol San the best out of the places you've mentioned. I always order their Buddha's Feast Rice Flour Roll when I'm at Rol San. My last visit to Yiu Wah was ok- maybe slightly better than average for Chinatown, and my last visit to Forestview was disappointing.
          I'd much rather travel the distance to Yang's in Richmond Hill, instead of travelling to Chinatown for dim sum. Yang's usually costs us $18-$20 per person, a bit more than the $12-$15 per person we're usually charged at Rol San. but the food is so much better :-)

          1. Rol San by a LONG shot! Forestview has the great cart service but the two times I was there (and then gave up) the food was not fresh and mostly mushy. I don't eat all the fried stuff so maybe they do well with that.

            It is very rare to see a good review on CH about Forestview so I add that to my reasoning of not giving them yet another chance.

            Rol San doesn't have carts and therefore everything comes fresh from the kitchen. It really is great.

            2 Replies
            1. re: deelicious

              Of the 3 Rol San is likely the cleanest but I would only give it a "fair" rating.

              Unfortunately, it appears that Dim Sum comparable to any number of northern places (Yang's, Emperor, Ambassador, Dragon Dynasty etc.) is only available at Lai Wah Heen for what I consider to be a ridiculous price.

              1. re: sumdumgoy

                I have not yet been to Yang's, but did go 2 weeks ago to the Emperor and have also had experience in the past with the other places you have mentioned. For me, the subtleness of LWH makes it stand out over the rest. Of the rest and on taste alone (decor, service, presentation and specialty dishes aside), I think Rol San is right up there for the basic dim sum menu items. The restaurant is a hole in the wall in comparison to some of the others, but you do have the price advantage. I don't think downtown dim sum foody fans should think they are missing out that much by not taking the drive to the burbs.

            2. In Chinatown I like Noble (previous Rainbow) on Dundas just west of Spadina. Super-clean, menus not carts (not a big fan of carts), and all the classics are fairly well-executed. Some faves include the fried squid, black pepper ribs, rice rolls, and congee. It's not pushing any boundaries, and I still take out-of-town guests to LWH or The Grand, but Noble satisfies the basics well at a good price. Usually most of the people in there are Chinese, if that is a signifier of anything at all.

              6 Replies
              1. re: childofthestorm

                Now you've ruined it!!! I've been keeping this to myself so there would always be a table available for us! We've been going here for a while now and we really enjoy the dim sum. Very similar to Rol San, but a few things are better here.

                1. re: Leslieville

                  Has the quality improved At Noble? Rainbow was some of the worst (but cheapest!) dim sum I've experienced either downtown or the suburbs. Nasty frozen ****.

                  1. re: Leslieville

                    Im a big fan of noble seafood dimsum too, but somehow their other dishes were just ok.

                  2. re: childofthestorm

                    Believe it or not, Chinese patrons in restaurants near Spadina and Dundas is not unusual or significant. What would be significant is an unusual number of non-Chinese....and that would cut both ways; some would think that's a bad sign, while others would think the opposite.

                    1. re: T Long

                      One too many double-negatives there. Are you saying that seeing Chinese people in Chinese restaurants downtown is not that unusual or that it is unusual? And the "opposite"?

                      1. re: ChalkBoy

                        Sorry, didn't intend to be obtuse.... Just saying that almost all the Restaurants near Spadina Chinatown will be patronized mainly by ethnic Chinese because of demographics. And in those restaurants where there are a noticeable number of non-Chinese, I have seen that interpreted negatively to mean the food served could be "westernized", or positively in that the places are English friendly and "cleaner". Hope that helps.

                  3. Rol San offers the highest quality dim sum of the three (by a long shot) at just a slightly higher price point.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JonasBrand

                      Rol San vs OTHERS = USA vs Canada in basketball