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ZIN - Really THAT bad?!

The owner of the newly opened Chinese restaurant ' Zin' in Yorkville ( old Boba address ) boosted that his restaurant is the best of its kind downtown, even better than Lai Wah Heen!!! However, Pataki of the Star, today gave it a 'Poor' 1.5*/5.0 rating! Citing bad food and bad service at sky high prices! Is the food really THAT bad? They charge $48 for the Peking duck, which is $10 more than some of the best restaurants up north and based on Pataki's description sounded inferior! IMO, any high end Chinese reataurant which dosen't know how to make a decent 'crispy skin' Peking duck should deserve to be scrutinized!
Love to hear any feedback from fellow chowhounders!

BTW, the latest LWH's Delux tasting menu for two at $130 is most appealing!
The dishes are - Fresh Dungeness crab cake with fresh fruit salad
- Braised sharksfin with shredded chicken and Chinese ham in premium broth
- Sauteed fresh garoupa filet with XO sauce
- Abalone and asparagus wrapped with shrimp mousse
- Lobster and black truffle lo-mien
- Desserts

I doubt Zin can match a menu of this calibre!

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

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  1. They do one of the better hot and sour soups I've had, much more depth of flavour than LWH's. The skin on the duck the last time I had it was crisp enough to bite through in one chomp, so there was no problem with having to chew endlessly or mouth a whole pancake. The place has become popular with many locals, definitely better than dynasty for menu food. The dim sum selection is quite small, but is nicely done. I haven't been to La Chine, so can't compare. Have you tried that place?

    9 Replies
    1. re: Snarf

      To be clear though, the menu at Zin is much smaller and does not contain the same breadth of exotic ingredients. The seating is at best 1/8th of LWH, so you can't expect the menu to be as varied.

      1. re: Snarf

        Never order hot and sour soup at LWH, I doubt it will be any good as it's purpose of existence on the menu of a cantonese restaurant mostly is to make it more diversified to satisty the people with a western palate.

        I have been to La Chine a dozen of times but never been to Zin. The food in general is ok. My conclusion is the chef at La Chine is too ambitious but not quite successful on incorporating non-chinese ingradient as such foie gras and wasabi into Cantonese cuisine.

        1. re: Snarf

          I was not impressed by the so called ' modern Chinese-western fusion' cuisine of some of La Chine's dishes. Those dishes ( especially appertizers ) involving these approaches were generally very simplistic using ingredients like smoked salmon, foie gras pate and prosciutto. They may sound pretty impressive to those Oriental patrons unfamiliar to these western ingredients but in reality its more of a facade.
          Similar to skylineR33, I too tried to avoid ' northern' Hot and Sour soup in Cantonese restaurants. Any Cantonese restaurants that feature this soup have one purpose only and that is to satisfy the western palette

          1. re: Charles Yu

            Have you guys found a single Chinese place in GTA that does incorporate western/nouveau ingredients well into traditional dishes? I've tried the wagyu beef and the foie gras etc etc into dishes at Yangs and LWH and all have sounded better than they tasted. Now I just give up on those fancy sounding, high priced dishes.

            I tried La Chine awhile back too and wasn't too impressed. I guess I'm just a traditionalist. :)

            1. re: Royaljelly

              I think you have to keep in mind almost all the "chefs" at chinese restaurants do not come from a formal cooking school background like their western counterparts. They simply do not have the versatility to deal with non traditional ingredients. Although the same can be said for Gordon Ramsay trying to make sushi or dim sum.
              It's only done for the sake of seeming to be cutting edge. To truly do it well you need someone like Susur.

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              Susur
              601 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

              1. re: sbug206

                I think a lot has to do with the individual more than formal training they undertook. There are tons of chefs who failed even though their credentials involved graduating from prestigious cooking schools like Paris' Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute of America.
                On the other hand, a chef like the owner of Hong Kong's Michelin 2* Bo Inovation was self taught but managed to create amazing Chinese-western fusion dishes. Likewise to the executive chef of the Michelin 3* Lung King Heen who managed to incorporate foie gras and truffles in Dim Sum and other dishes very successfully.
                The problem I had with La Chine was that , for some of their set dinners, they mixed dishes like prosciutto with melon, foie gras pate on melba toast and smoked salmon with dill infused mayo with some other Chinese dishes and called the combo 'fusion'!!

            2. re: Charles Yu

              You seem to be presuming that the menu is predominately Cantonese, or that the focus of the restaurant is to be regional rather than expansive. That is analogous to criticizing a French menu for having cassoulet, bouillabaisse and choucrout garni together on it. But not unheard of outside of the country of origin, especially in places that use non-traditional ingredients.

              1. re: Snarf

                I have lived and worked in Paris for over two years and have travelled/eaten from Alsace to Burgundy to Provence to Brittany and Normandy. However, I must admit that I have not come across a single restaurant or bistro that has cassoulet, bouillabaisse AND choucrout garni in one menu. Anyone trying to do that in Food conscious France is openly asking for criticism!

                Back to La Chine. The Chinese name translated into English is 'Aroma invoked by CANTONESE Style Cuisine'! As such all Chinese patrons frequenting it expect to be served Cantonese cuisine, at most with a twist'. But definitely not Northern style dishes like Hot and Sour Soup!

            3. re: Snarf

              How do the prices at Zin compare to Dynasty?

            4. Remember Pataki? She's a hatchet woman. Never did like her style. I haven't been yet, but that review is certainly no deterrent. Here's Kates take:
              http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/f...

              11 Replies
              1. re: Googs

                Well Kates loved Ruby, so who do you want to believe?
                Additionally, I've never been able to eat at a restaurant for the amount Kates mentions in her reviews. I remember her review of Alice's restaurant, it cost us almost twice as much as mentioned in her review and we certainly did not go overboard.

                1. re: foodyDudey

                  Joanne Kates has always loved Chinese food, so I'd be inclined to follow her lead regardless of the Ruby fiasco.

                  I don't doubt that the food Kates was served at Ruby was delicious, even if other food coming out of the same kitchen was dangerous.

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    Well I'd tend to believe the Hounds who also recommended Ruby before the fall, that's who. BokChoi, Finnegan, Sweetie, Yum2MyTum. Even Charles Yu and SkylineR33 seem to have gone there. Kates wasn't the first person to say it was good. She will obviously be the last.

                    1. re: Googs

                      Well , been there is one thing, liking it is another!
                      One thing for sure, last year, I attended wedding/birthday banquets at four different Chinese restaurants. They included Ruby, Casa Victoria, Spring Villa and Full House. Of the four, Ruby's offerings was the worst, especially the Roast suckling piglet. The supposedly crispy skin was so tough and chewy, its like cardboard and totally unpalatable. Casa Victoria, on the other hand still managed to retain its high quality despite having to serve over 30 tables simultaneously!

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                      Full House Restaurant
                      328 7 Hwy E, Richmond Hill, ON L4B3P7, CA

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Hey Charles, I had some cardboard rubberband Roasted suckling piglet in a wedding banquet at Grand this year. Not only that, the "Hi Fu" shark fin is a bowl of half-hot-half-cold glue substance !! Totally unacceptable !! And I think it costs $1000 for a table of 10.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          We should start a thread on the 'Worst Chinese dish/place' in Toronto! Ha!
                          The list can get pretty long!!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            I went to Ho Ho BBQ take out at 3833 Midland today for roast duck and pork. The spicing is subtle, and the skin light and crispy. It pays to go to a specialist.

                            1. re: jayt90

                              Both you and Wandering Foodie gave Ho Ho an enthusiastic thumbs up. Guess I have to make a special trip out east to give it a try and compare their products with some of Richmond Hill's finest!

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                The rice, soup, tofu and braised cabbage is pedestrian, but I head back to Ho Ho for crispy roast pork, and slow roasted duck and chicken. The BBQ pork has been dry.

                            2. re: Charles Yu

                              For "worst", I nominate all 3 dishes I ate at Zin (eggplant with minced pork, moo shu pork, and wasabi duck hand roll).

                              I had dim sum at Yangs last Sunday and didn't like the foie gras har gow or XO steamed octopus either.

                              1. re: Food Tourist

                                Wow! Interesting! BTW, how much were the Zin's dishes? Significantly more than up-town prices?
                                Haven't been to Yang's for a while. Heard they have gone down hill a bit. May be your dim sum is an indicator?!

                  2. Is Zin really that bad? In a word, Yes.

                    Tried the lunch menu last Saturday. Had the weirdest spring rolls ever--no flavour whatsoever,

                    I kept looking at them and they kept sending out visual signals that they should taste like something (anything--like spring rolls would have been fine). Ditto with the accompanying plum sauce.

                    Then I had sweet and sour soup (meh) and kung po chicken (chicken was undercooked so I spooned the sauce onto my noodles, ate the noodles, paid my bill and went off in search of somewhere else to eat).

                    What really spoiled the meal, though, was that every single water glass I encountered hadn't been washed properly. The one that was part of my setting had a lipstick stain on it. Grabbed one from the nearest table--it was spotty. Asked my waiter for a clean glass, and it wasn't until after I drank out of it that I noticed a lipstick imprint on that one too. The pigment had been dissolved, but the wax was still on it. As my dad would say, Blech.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: suzeo

                      Thanks for the heads up! Guess I'll stay up north and enjoy the more consistent offerings in this area!

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