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Dim Sum

Where is the favourite place for dimsum downtown these days? I live out of town but I like to slide in for a good session.

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  1. The dim sum at the Grand (inside doubel tree hotel in mississauga near arirport) has always been praised here from what I read.
    I've also been there and it was a pleasant experience.

    8 Replies
    1. re: BamiaWruz

      No, the dim sum at Grand is not always praised here and it is not located at downtown. I have been there too, its dim sum is not up to par and getting worst. Lai Wah Heen is at downtown, a much better choice but more expensive.

      1. re: skylineR33

        Oh really? Good to know. The last time I remember reading about Grand everyone was really raving about it.

        Can't say how good it was because it was my first dim sum experience and only since then. Sad to hear about it getting worse though.

        1. re: skylineR33

          What is your favourite dim sum place in the GTA skyline?

          1. re: haggisdragon

            Most of the dim sum place are not very consistent in Toronto with my experience. I do have a good one at Casa Imperial, Yang's and Lai Wah Heen recently. I do agree with others that Lai Wan Heen's dim sum is not as good as before though especially with its high pricing.

              1. re: haggisdragon

                And Yang's is considerably less expensive than the other two.
                Roughly speaking you will spend $20 pp at Yang's, $30 pp at Casa and $40 pp at LWH.

              2. re: skylineR33

                Did Casa Imperial changed dim sum chefs at all? I know the dinner chef had left for Emperor.

                1. re: Royaljelly

                  I am not sure. But the dim sum I had in there is pretty good a few weeks ago.

        2. My wife and I stumbled into a very pleasant place the other day in Chinatown East on Gerrard. I am trying to remember the name, but failing. Now, I am a Yum Cha fanatic, having lived in Hong Kong for a decade. My standards are pretty high and since I arrived in Toronto the only dim sum I had enjoyed was at the Shanghainese place in Splendid China Tower on Steeles. This little place was the real deal, though...apart from the alarmingly friendly service. Even the trolley ladies were lovely. Are they putting ecstacy in the Pu-er?
          I do not care for fancy dim sum palaces. I like mine down to earth and tasty. This place covered all the bases. The staples such as Hargow, Siu Mai, Fungzhou, Wo Tip and Beef Balls were all superbly done, occasionally with a twist. There were some unusual dishes as well. What really impressed me was the Hargow skins, which are a test of any dim sum chef. Every example I have had in TO so far has either beein too mushy and fallen apart or been way too chewy. This place has it just right.
          Other points for not automatically bringing me a fork and serving me jasmine tea, which I hate.
          My only concern is that having found this understated gem, my wife noticed a sign in Chinese in the window stating that it is up for slae, which is a worry. I hope the new owners keep up the standards and the happy staff.
          I just remembered, it's a couple of doors up from another dim sum place called Pearl Court. Still can't remember the name. Anybody?

          11 Replies
          1. re: munchieHK

            I suppose we are all talking about cantonese dim sum here. I found the cantonese dim sum at Hi Shanghai (the one you are talking about which serves Shanghaiese food) is mediocre at best. There are much better one up North. And fancy places can also be good and tasty.

            1. re: munchieHK

              I was at the Shanghai place called Hi Shanghai at the Splendid mall a few months ago. The dim sum selection was divided between Cantonese style and Shanghai style. Given their name, their specialty is probably not the Cantonese style (which we mostly like and ordered), but I thought it was decent enough....although the selection was somewhat limited to some of the basic items, and the taste was a bit different from some other Cantonese dim sum places in Toronto. Interesting place!

              1. re: munchieHK

                I will have to wander down there and look around, thanks for the tip.

                1. re: munchieHK

                  Let me qualify my previous statement for the sake of the hair splitters amongst us. When I said I enjoyed the dim sum at the Shanghainese restaurant, I was referring to the dim sum I had THERE, which obviously were Shanghainese dim sum. I am not comparing apples to oranges. The restaurant refers to the as Shanghainese dim sum and I see no reason to quibble. Having said that, they do offer a few Cantonese items and we found nothing wrong with the two we tried. They do not have trollies anyway, which takes them out of the running for best traditional Cantonese dim sum right from the start. I did find their Shanghainese dim sum to be excellent and I stand by that.

                  1. re: munchieHK

                    Good that you clarify here because everyone here is referring to cantonese dim sum when saying dim sum, your first post did not specify that and Hi Shanghai serve both type. Having that said, the Har Gow and Cheung fun I had at Hi Shanghai is pretty bad even for Toronto standard. The Har Gow skin is mushy, the shrimp has strange taste and rough, obviously the shrimp is not prepared right with bad seasoning, size is again too big which is pretty common in Toronto. Cheung Fun skin is thicker than the skin of my foot, the texture and everything is wrong.

                    For the Shanghaiese "crab roe" xiao long bao, obviously no hairy crab used (which is expected in Toronto) and I hardly found any crab roe in there, the skin is way too thick !

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      I'm glad that you specified that this was what you experienced and didn't present it as an inarguable truism, because that would just be arrogant, wouldn't it? Your experience and mine were markedly different and if the volume of happy diners in there that day is anything to go by, most people seem to be more than satisfied with the food there. Different strokes etc...

                      1. re: munchieHK

                        Ditto about The Grand in the DoubleTree hotel in Etobicoke.

                        Went there a few weeks ago and it's still pretty darn stellar. To each their own. We know we all have differing opinions. Just giving some comfort to BamiaWruz and Pears that they're not alone.

                        1. re: BokChoi

                          I agree, Grand is my husband's and mine's favourite dim sum restaurant!

                          We love it so much, we're taking our friends this Sunday to share with them the amazing dim sum we get there.

                          1. re: sasgirl

                            I hear it's getting quite packed. I had thoughts that perhaps I might need to start making reservations! I guess word of mouth spreads quickly for good performers, as you've supported with bringing your friends. Which reminds me, go try this dessert: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-... . it's amazing. Best version I've had in Toronto so far.

                            1. re: BokChoi

                              Oh really ? Not on a week day though. I was there on a weekday for dim sum recently and there were only 3 tables occupied.

                              Dinner is different because of the wedding season. There was 4 wedding banquets on a Saturday in one of the wedding I attended ( the main dining room, and 3 other banquet rooms). The food is the worst banquet food I have ever had in my life right from the first course. The skin of the whole Roast Suckling Pig is not crispy and thin, but a piece of thick rubber, this is not acceptable. Any chinese supermarket has better quality that it.

                              1. re: BokChoi

                                Yum. That's my favourite dessert there. So delicious!

                  2. High end - LWH! Make a reservation.
                    Normal pricing - Rol San on Spadina. Its fresh and fabulous. Prepare for crowds though.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: deelicious

                      I second Rol San(no carts) and Golden Pearl (carts) across the street. People have dissed the Pearl here on CH, but I have had nothing but good food and very friendly service (I've been a regular for about 8 years) I especially like the turnip cake cooked to order (Lo Pa Ko) and their curried cuttlefish is my fave in the whole city!

                    2. I had dim sum at LWH just this past monday and found it quite mediocre at best (for the steep prices). I'll do a detailed review of what I had on a later post (gonna do a write up of all the chinese places I took my parents to in the last 2 wks, I'm so chinese food-ed out). I also confirmed w/ my friend, who's parents go there so often they get free tea, that they changed dim sum chefs and the quality is not consistent anymore.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Royaljelly

                        All I know is LWH changes it's chefs for the dinner and the dim sum chef is not changed. I have been to dinner after the dinner chef changed and the quality is ok, price is at par with Yangs and other upscale one uptown. There are also some positive report with dim sum at LWH recently on this board, but thanks for update on your experience.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Hi skyline, I wonder if my friend meant the dinner chef changing, rather then the dim sum chef, since I did recall seeing the ad and photo of their new dinner chef in one of those chinese newspapers recently.

                      2. I notice that you live out of town, so what qualifies as downtown to you?

                        To Torontonians downtown typically means Spadina area or Gerrard East. Sadly, the Dim Sum in these areas is (in IMHO) not terribly good, rarely better than fair and often awful. Lai Wah Heen is an exception but quite expensive, a bit formal and not very traditional.

                        If I were an out of towner looking for a Dim Sum fix I would be camping out at Yang's, Dragon Boat, Emperor, Ambassador (maybe) and others in the Hwy 7 area. These places serve good to exceptional Dim Sum at reasonable prices and appear to be very clean.

                        Dim Sum from the Grand / Dragon Dynasty empire has not impressed me in the last year or two.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: sumdumgoy

                          I live in Collingwood but used to live inTO. I visit often and do things downtown thus my interest in grabbing a bite there. Downtown is south of bloor to me. I like the speed of dim sum and will try just about anything. Been meaning to hit the Yangs on the way out, heard good reports on it.

                          1. re: sumdumgoy

                            I find the dim sum in Richmond Hill and Markham on par with downtown (Queens Quay and Spadina - can't say for Gerrard East). While each place may have a standout dish, generally it is similar in quallity - in my (many) experiences.

                            It's all Rev. Moon's fish and shrimp in the end.

                          2. Downtown, LWH definitely deserves the mention.

                            I know some people who have tried it and can't see what the fuss is about. I admit that nothing LWH does is an in-your-face impressive creation. No, rather, their strength is in taking something you've had before that has a good combination of two or three key flavours and turn it into something much more nuanced and complex and which rewards contemplative dining.

                            The room is stuffy and the place often disturbingly quiet. No matter how good, this might not the dim sum "experience".


                            The best of Spadina is Rol San. Its good, mostly.

                            But, there is reason that, since I have access to a car, I make the drive up to Richmond Hill/Markham.


                            While not strictly dim sum, I might recommend Mother's Dumplings and Chinese Traditional Buns as well. Both rarely disappoint.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Atahualpa

                              I don't really find the room at LWH that stuffy, it is of course not as crowded and busy as others uptown places, but it is just a typical more of a high end dim sum experience you can found elsewhere of the world. We went with a 2.5 years old and it is perfectly fine. They have high chair and diaper changing table where all the uptown dim sum place does have even have changing table. Chinese restaurant can never be 'too' quiet.

                              1. re: Atahualpa

                                Rol San makes great deep fried items especially the won tons. Sky Dragon all round is the best in Chinatown. Great Shrimp chive har gow. Their fried noodles are also great right off the carts. Yue Wah is very good and consistant. Excellent shrimp pan fried dumplings as well as the stuffed eggplant with shrimp. Sky dragon and Yue Wah have friendly service in comparison with Rol San in my experience. It may be because I'm not a "regular" at Rol San?

                                1. re: food face

                                  Last time I was at LWH, it was mid-week and a little late for lunch and you could hear a pin drop in the room despite several tables being full. It has been very quiet on other occasions as well.

                                  I like it like that (although some background music might not be a terrible idea). However, it isn't everyone's idea of a dim sum experience. I was just giving fair warning.

                                  I'd forgotten about Yue Wah. Its good too. Its been a while since I was there for dim sum (I've been to a few dinners and functions since though). They seem to do noodles very well as well.

                                  I've never been to Sky Dragon, I'll keep that suggestion in mind.

                                  I agree the service isn't terribly friendly at Rol San. But, I wouldn't have said it was much better at Yue Wah. The only place with memorably good service has been Ambassador uptown – but I've been a bit of regular there for years now so maybe that's why I get a extra nice touch.

                                  1. re: Atahualpa

                                    I have to try the noodles next time! Yeu Wah service is actually what keeps me loyal. The cart servers, wait staff and especially the owners have been exceptionally sweet to me and whom ever I bring. I live in the area and needed some tomato plant bins. They gave me 3 used plastic oil bins. The cart ladies are not too pushy and don't get grouchy if a dish is passed on. The owners remember returning guests and always try to make everyone feel welcome.

                                    1. re: food face

                                      Love Yiu Wah. Been going for years approx 1 Saturday/month for dim sum, usually in the colder months. Always find a good variety of choices freshly made. Love the trolley ladies, look forward to seeing them. Some of them have been there for ages.

                                      1. re: buster67

                                        We have had some very mixed experiences at Yiu Wah. I wouldn't ever call them consistent.

                                        The first time we tried it we were hooked and started going back almost weekly. Then we started getting cold food and we noticed that the same dishes kept circulating the dining room over and over again. Carts were literally not refreshed or replenished the entire time we were there.. We have also been there more than once when we would just wait and wait for anything to make it's way to us. Depending on the day, it might be because of where in the dining room we were seated so that the cart ladies inexplicably bypassed us, or due to the fact that the food coming out of the kitchen suddenly comes to a halt.

                                        We've even tried strategizing thinking maybe we've gone too early or too late which is why the experience faltered. We have tried going at all different times hoping to hit the sweet spot, but I'd say at least half of the times we've left disappointed and hungry because we just haven't gotten enough food in the amount of time our toddler allows, or when we ran out of patience ourselves fed up with the slow flow of service or less than fresh offerings.

                                        The most frustrating thing about Yiu Wah is that we know it CAN serve great (hot, fresh, tasty) quickly - which is what dim sum is all about. Not sure if we'll keep trying at this point, or just stick to Kim Moon and Noble... but I sure do like the carts... if only they were more consistent.

                                        1. re: Delish

                                          You basically explained the demise of carts in dim sum restaurants. The form system works so much better for food quality.

                                          Carts do remind me of my childhood, but it is quite the antiquated notion nowadays. I'll gladly sacrifice carts for food quality.

                                          1. re: aser

                                            YOu hit the nail on the head. Although I still enjoy seeing the carts, I much prefer the forms. Get what you want, when you want and fresher.

                                  2. re: food face

                                    Thanks, skydragon still going strong eh? The colour scheme at rol san is a bit weird.

                                    1. re: rumbelly

                                      So, Rumbelly, when are you next in TO for a dim sum slam?

                                      You obviously love Dim Sum but with the exception of LWH there is nothing downtown that comes close to Yang"s, Emperor or Dragon Boat (and one or two others maybe) and LWH is in a style and price range of its own.

                                2. does anyone know if yui wah, noble or sky dragon have weekday dimsum and what time dimsum becomes available?

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: chocabot

                                    I'm pretty sure you can get dim sum at sky dragon at any time. PRobably the dim sum lunch will be with the carts. Any other time, and it's ordered from a form. In fact, a few years ago, I went on a Sunday evening and did just that.

                                    1. re: grandgourmand

                                      thanks for your response,
                                      I'm not partial to carts or no carts...
                                      I'm just looking for a place open early on a weekday

                                    2. re: chocabot

                                      Yui Wah is definately open during the week and caters to seniors to eat their breakfast early. It is also cheaper during the weekdays. Most standard items go for about $1.75 It is the optimal time to go for sure.

                                    3. I was underwhelmed with LWH the only time I went. i suppose I couldn't justify the extra cost and the quality of food. To the original poster - For downtown I'd say Rol San. But really, if you want good stuff - like other posters, I'd go further north and hit one of the ones along Hwy 7 : Yang's, Emperor or maybe Ambassador on the way into or out of town.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: kayehm

                                        Agree completely.

                                        Add Dragon Boat to the list and bear in mind that on weekdays dim sum there is $2.70 if your order is in before 10:50 am.

                                        1. re: sumdumgoy

                                          No Casa Imperial too ?! Better than Dragon Boat, Emperor and Ambassador ! If driving all the way to Richmond Hill, mind as well pick a better one.

                                        2. re: kayehm

                                          You folks are all omitting Regal Palace on Hwy7!!! IMO better quality than Dragon boat.

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            Thanks Charles and skyline - when listing restaurants (or people) I always forget a few. I haven't been taking my Gingko!!

                                            Casa and Regal should certainly be on the list.

                                            I live downtown and it drives me crazy that all the best dim sum is so far away!

                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                              Heard good things about Regal Palace, and Casa Imperial - but having never eaten there myself, I couldn't recommend them :)

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                Regal Palace has a couple of special dishes they do well, but the standard dim sum was pretty forgettable. Maybe it was an off-day. Dragon Boat has been consistently good.

                                                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                                                  The dim sum at Dragon Boat are pretty forgettable too, I found they are pretty much the same level as Regal Palace. I cannot recall any dim sum that is particularly good there. However, Regal Palace has one of the best dim sum that one can find in Toronto area, which is what they called the "Number 1 Bun under the sky".

                                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                                    Can you please describe "Number 1 bun under the sky"?
                                                    Thanks skyline!

                                                    To be fair Regal Palace is about 20% more expensive than Dragon Boat.

                                                    1. re: sumdumgoy

                                                      You can find a description of it here. I do think other than this bun, Regal Palace's dim sum is only average in general with my experience there.


                                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                                        After 3 dim sum meals at Regal Palace, I too found them to be just ok on most dishes, and some plates bordering on over MSG/salt content. Only went once to Dragon boat, aside from reasonable prices, dishes were just standard.

                                            2. Just got home from another great dim sum feast at Rol San. We had the turnip cake (always stellar!), chicken & chive soup dumpling (delicately flavored & delicious), steamed pork bun (fluffy bun with generous amount of pork), egg custard and bean stick (very light, with a comforting texture), pork shiu mai (outrageously good with roe of some kind on top), steamed black pepper spare ribs (didn't try these, but my companion loves them), steamed bamboo fungus & mushroom dumpling (not sure of the name, but the taste was lovely - very fragrant, woodsy and delicate), pork pot stickers (I think they're called pan-fried pork dumplings - excellent) and for dessert steamed sago pudding (essentially tapioca on the outside with a wonderful filling, sweet but not overwhelmingly so). Marvelous all around.

                                              Needless to say, all of this is meant to be a high recommendation of Rol San for the OP!

                                              1. I would rather choose the Grand.I've been there a couple of weeks ago, and I indeed like the taste of the dim sum they served. It was a great experience for me, and I was about to tell my friends about it.


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pears

                                                  I've been recently as well and I found it delicious as always. In particular loved the mah-lie-goh (yellow, subtly sweet sponge cake.) So good!

                                                2. Chimming in for Rol San. Just got back from lunch there. The stuffed eggplant was to die for - and I'm not much of a fan of eggplant!

                                                  1. Try Dynasty House 1635 Lawrence W. at Black Creek Dr. (416-246-1771) You won't be disappointed. Can order from the menu or from the carts. Was there last Sunday, has been a favorite of ours for a few years. Did visit the Grand based on opinions expressed here and found the atmosphere cold and stressful, the food was so-so and over priced. It was not added to our list of regulars.

                                                    Edit-- the D/H menu BTW has pictures to help you if you are not familiar with Dim Sum dishes.

                                                    1. Surprised no one has mentioned Paradise at Leslie and Finch - my favourite based mostly on the tree ear cheung fun. Definitely more expensive than my regular (Pearl Court on Gerrard) but much better, too.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: ltdchef

                                                        Paradise has been mentioned before, and it's not worth the drive up north IMHO.


                                                        1. re: Royaljelly

                                                          Agree! The former occupant 'Jade Dynasty' has much better food. Both Dim Sum and Dinner. Paradise is overprice and over rated.

                                                        2. re: ltdchef

                                                          Agree that Paradise is at least decent.

                                                        3. Spring Villa at Woodbine and Denison provides great value when you order 10:45am and everything is the price of S. Love their lo bak go.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: Crispier Crouton

                                                            Amazing Dim Sum at the Pearl in Toronto. They have the carts so you get to see everything wheeling around. As my aunt so elegantly states, her favorite dish are the dumplings filled with nuts or "sacks of nuts". My little cousins always get a good laugh. Great variety of pork buns, noodle dishes, shredded duck lettuce rolls, etc. Worth a try!

                                                            1. re: thehotplate

                                                              Try Royal Teahouse 10 Applecreek Blvd. Markham, ON (905) 946-1898. No carts but when you order your food comes quick and it's hot. Pretty clean, small restaurant. If you have more than 12 people, you will be squished and sitting on stools since they do not expand their tables.

                                                              Food is consistenly good.

                                                              1. re: wano

                                                                Thanks to Charles' recommendation, our favourite is now Emperor's. We used to go to Casa Victoria for the abalone tarts and abalone stirfry noodle.
                                                                No abalone tarts at Emperor but great prices before 11:30am and everything is as good as Casa Victoria.
                                                                Next on our list the Peking Duck on Monday night. Thanks, Charles. We now love Gourmet Garden as well.

                                                                1. re: caitlink

                                                                  You are most welcome caitlink! Glad my recommendations came through!
                                                                  As for the Peking duck special. Make sure you arrive early ( before 7 pm ) or better still reserve one when making a reservation!. Very popular, chance of selling out by 8 pm!

                                                          2. Went to Yangs this afternoon at the suggestion of many on this board.

                                                            I must note that Casa Imperial (besides LWH, though its #1 dominance could be argued in the cost to quality ratio) is my current top ranked spot that I frequently visit.

                                                            Dishes we ordered:
                                                            Har Gow - The skin I found to be a bit thick and sticky (a common theme in the steamed rice dumpling dishes) and the shrimp quality sub-par, with a few pieces of shell being discarded.
                                                            Chinese Broc - Well cooked, enjoyed the optional soy and oyster sauces on the side.
                                                            Rice rolls with tofu and greens - My wife enjoyed this dish the most. (she cant eat shrimp, poor girl.)
                                                            Some steamed rice concoction with ground pork and peanuts - they told my wife she could have it and we found a dried shrimp (Should the comprehension of the English language not be a requirement when serving food with the more and more frequent appearance of severe allergies?), luckily I had one to test out prior. Totally overcooked, fell apart, lacked any flavor profile.
                                                            Squid Tentacles - contrary to a previous post, the one of the stars of the meal - perfectly cooked, great crunch to the tips, very fresh.

                                                            Overall - good value, would potentially go again if in the area, but not out of my way for it.

                                                            Casa Imperial
                                                            4125 Steeles Ave E, Scarborough, ON M1W 3T4, CA