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Northeast Chinese Restaurant in downtown chinatown - anyone been?

hello everyone - I've been a lurker for some time and have enjoyed many of the discussions and recs on the board. I stumbled onto this restaurant tonight and am quite curious as to whether anyone else has been. I'm particularly intrigued by many of the street eats type offerings, which I've only seen so far in scarborough chinese restaurants.

my girlfriend and I had what I think is jian bing. it came as a chinese pancake smeared with bean sauce, topped with a fried egg, and wrapped around a crispy flat cruller. except that the pancake was greenish, due to green (mung?) beans in the batter. I loved the contrasting textures and the funk of the bean sauce.

we also had a chinese pancake rolled around smoked pork, cumin beef in bread, and homestyle tofu. the smoked pork pancake is awesome: crispy with a bit of chew, and the pork had a pleasant smokiness to it. I found the cumin beef dish to be a bit too salty and the bread too soft, but liked the liberal use of cumin and the crunchy green beans mixed in with the beef. the homestyle tofu was fried with black fungus mushrooms, pork, and carrots. it would go really great with rice, if we weren't already so stuffed. food for two hungry people, plus leftovers, tax and tips = $21! am planning to go back to explore the rest of the extensive and cheap menu. there's an assortment of dumplings (15 for $5), steamed buns, noodles, and protein dishes meant to be shared and eaten with rice. lots of variety meats too, which is always for me a sign of an authentic chinese restaurant.

if you've been and have recommendations on what to order, I'd love to hear them. this place is an exciting divergence from the usual spadina chinese fare!

Northeast Chinese Restaurant
476 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T1G9, CA

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  1. We stumbled in there a few weeks ago. Really liked it. Not sure about many of the dishes names, as I'm not too familiar with this cuisine, but it was all really tasty, well presented andgood value. The staff were more keen than competent, but that should improve. There were several tables full of Mandarin speakers enjoying themselves, which is a good sign. I particularly liked a soup I had with noodles, cabbage and pickled pork. It was a wonderful winter treat. We're probably going there tonight again, so I'll pay attention to the names of the dishes and make some recommendations. I think this place is really worth checking out.

    1. I decided to go there for lunch today. I looked for the jian bing that mapotofu mentioned, but couldn't find it on the regular menu. I think it's one of the options posted on the wall, which are all written in Chinese. Unfortunately the Canadian-born Chinese that is me can't read all the characters. I settled on the handmade noodles with pork, preserved vegetable, and greens (#29). Definitely warmed me up on a blustery day, and the noodles had a good chew to them.

      The chef was on his own, as he took everyone's order, brought the dishes out, and processed payment. I was concerned he had to do all of this during dinner service, but it sounds like he has staff helping him.

      I'd definitely go back and try the other dishes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lavender07

        heh my chinese is pretty abysmal and the scrawled menus on chinese restaurant walls are familiarly vexing = ). the what I think is jian bing is on the front page of the menu, under appetizers, and described something like crisp wrapped with green bean pancake.

      2. Just came back from our second meal here. Completely empty tonight. I hope they get more business, or they might go under, which would be a great shame. It is thoroughly worth trying. We were in the mood for some heat tonight and Northeast delivered in spades! Started with some excellent, tender lamb skewers, which had a real kick. Antother excellent appetizer was the pancake with smoked pork. It was crispy and really tasty. The Szechuan style chicken was fiery and authentic, with lots of hot, dry chillies and very crispy skin. Long beans with pork was a different preparation to the Cantonese style, salty with lots of crispy garlic and pepper. Very nice. My favourite was the fresh fish slices in a spicy broth. It was superb. Lovely firm, white fish fillets in a bubbling broth full of chillies, peppercorns, ginger and spring onions on top of a layer of bean sprouts and baby bok choy. Really spicy, but not to cover up lack of flavour or depth. A beautifully executed dish, I thought. My daughter agreed on that one, which is a rare thing indeed.
        The room is simple, the service unpolished, but friendly and the price reasonable for the quality and quantity, Ingredients were fresh and presentation was good. The menu is quite extensive and I have only scratched the surface. I'm going to take some friends next week. I really recommend this palce for some serious Northern Chinese cuisine. I hope they stay in business long enough for word to spread.

        1. I know this is a long shot, but do they have any vegetarian dishes?

          2 Replies
          1. re: piccola

            I went there yesterday, and I had their vegetable dumplings. Handmade wrappers filled with shredded seasoned tofu and zucchini of all things. A dip in black vinegar and they really hit the spot.

            They have a "Vegetable Dishes" section where they have several stir fries and tofu based dishes, and most of their appetizers and cold dishes don't have meat, so there are definitely vegetarian options. You can also order the handmade noodles with just vegetables, but I believe it's a meat-based broth.

          2. Sad news. I was intending to have lunch here today, but it's closed. I couldn't see inside, but there are "For Lease" signs put up.

            5 Replies
            1. re: lavender07

              You might be looking at their old location, which is right next to Asian Legend. That spot has been empty for years! Their current location is much closer to Spadina but it's still in the basement.

              I have been visiting this place for years. Food has always been consistent. The restaurant really only has one server, a woman with insanely bright red lips and raucous voice. However, the sweetest lady for sure!

              The woman is from shandong, if i remember correctly. I asked her and she said the restaurant specializes in noodle and dumplings. I can't really complain about the food since it's so cheap. It's great to see that people are discovering this lovely place.

              1. re: oohlala

                Woops. Now that I think of it, the closed location was closer to Huron than Spadina. I was in a rush to get my lunch, so it didn't occur to me to check the address number.

                Anyways, I can get the handmade noodles again. Yay!

                1. re: oohlala

                  I think we might be talking about two different restaurants here. The one the OP and I have been discussing is a new place. It is not in a basement, it is at street level and is closer to Asian Legend than Spadina. I know it opened very recently, because the opening bouquets are still in the window. I am sure we are discussing the same restaurant because of the smoked pork pancakes the OP mentioned. This place is called Northeast Chinese Cuisine, I think.

                  1. re: munchieHK

                    Well the restaurant at 476 Dundas Street West is definitely called Northeast Chinese Restaurant, and it is at basement level. This would be the place that oohlala and I have been talking about.

                    Looks like mapotofu posted the wrong address for the place he visited. The place that he and munchieHK have been talking about is at 428 Dundas Street West, and DineSafe lists it as "Phoenix Restaurant". When I passed by yesterday I saw the signs "Northeast Chinese Cuisine" and "Ten Mile Aroma" as well.

                    1. re: lavender07

                      Based on the C'Hound recs, I tried this place today and it totally sucked. It was in the basement, just east of spadina on the S. side. I ordered pork wonton noodle soup. The "soup" was dark coloured water. No flavour whatsover. Just water. And the noodles, which didn't arrive until I reminded the guy that he forgot to put them in, were mushy and also flavourless, despite looking handmade. Several of the wonton has chuncks of gristle. The place was empty and dirty. I was on my way to King's (or maybe Swatow - I hadn't decided) but I thought I would check this place out. I usually walk away when I see a place is empty. Based on the recs, I figured it must be a slow day. I decided to stay. Sorry I did. Totaly waste of 8 bucks. Worst lunch ever.

              2. It seems people are talking about a few different places. At 476 Dundas (north side just east of House of Gourmet) there's a place at street level and one downstairs. The one downstairs looked like it specializes in hot pot, so assumed the main level place was the one the OP describes.

                But looking at the menu it said Ten Mile Aroma. The menu seems like what the OP described. It's a mainland Chinese place. The menu is very similar to Chinese Traditional Buns just down the street west of Spadina. I grabbed one of their takeout menus and just now noticed that the address listed is 428 Dundas. Maybe this is the one that occupied the space that is closed?

                I started with the "pancake sandwich" with pork. The meat was okay but didn't like the bread as much as Chinese Traditional Buns where they toast them. Then I had a noodle soup with beef. It was okay. But, again, I like the noodles at Chinese Traditional better, especially since they have hand pulled noodles as an option.

                There are 2 other northern/mainland Chinese places on the same side of Dundas that are downstairs. There's one with Shanghai in the name which I haven't tried yet. Then there's another one a bit more east that I tried once. I forget the name. That one I remember as having the owner/main server as a very charming woman who seems like a Chinese version of Rosie the Riveter. She seems straight from a Chinese propaganda poster with her cherubic face but huge arms that could beat any guy at arm wrestling. The food was okay, but the decor a little too rough around the edges for me.

                It would be great for someone to clear up the various restos that all feature similar menus.

                3 Replies
                1. re: num nums

                  This is the place I went to:


                  It says NorthEast Chinese Restaurant on the sign.

                  1. re: acd123

                    So, okay we're talking about the same address. I'm the one confused. But note that this is the north side of of the street (you mentioned south side) and is definitely 476 Dundas. I think when walking on the side walk (as opposed to seeing from across the street) the signage is a little confusing.

                    The one downstairs, Northeast Chinese Restaurant is the one I think the server/owner looks like Rosie the Riveter. The upstairs place, Ten Mile Aroma, must be really new and based on the takeout menu, they did move from down the street.

                    In any case, I think Chinese Traditional Bun beats both for Northern/mainland Chinese food.

                    1. re: num nums

                      Sorry, yeah, I wrote s. side when I should have written n. side.

                2. Yeah, I see the confusion. I went there again tonight and it is actually called Ten Mile Aroma, but you don't notice that name because the prominent sign says Northeast Chinese Food...tres confusing. The food tonight was fantastic once again. I can highly recommend #126 on the menu, which is listed quite anonomously as 'Stewed Chicken with Vegetables'. This is completely misleading. What you get is a huge platter with tender chicken, potatoes, peppers in a spicy gravy over very broad rice noodles. I only ordered it because we saw a young mainland couple enjoying it and asked what it was. It was superb. Also had a lovely delicate chicken soup with dried wild mushrooms and a lamb hotpot, which is a lamb lovers delight. Huge marrowbones covered in tender lamb and broken open for access to the marrow. Had the smoked pork pancakes again, but not as good as last time. The meat was a bit dry, but still tasty. Everything else was perfect. You really need to give this place a try. Look around you and see what the regulars are having. I have been to Chinese Traditional Bun and I must respectfully opine that Ten Mile Aroma is far superior, IMHO.
                  Ten Mile Aroma. 428 Dundas St. West. Ph.416-916-8170. Free delivery service too.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: munchieHK

                    Next time someone's there...take a photo of it and link it to this site. I want to try this place out but it seems to be very hard to find the right spot.

                    1. re: munchieHK

                      Hey OP here. Sorry about all the confusion! I originally searched for Northeast Restaurant on dundas on google to come up with the address (476 dundas) for the original post. But the place I wrote about, as munchie HK rightfully pointed out, is actually on 428 Dundas W.

                      I think munchieHK and I are talking about the same restaurant. So, to clarify (without a photo yet, sorry!):
                      - ground level
                      - yellowish awning that says "northeast chinese restaurant" and "ten mile aroma"
                      - closer to asian legend and the lucky moose grocery than to spadina
                      - IMHO, better than chinese traditional buns for certain dishes and with a menu more typical of homestyle northern chinese dishes

                      A bunch of friends and I went again last week. Like before, it was rather quiet and the other guests all spoke mandarin. The one waitress speaks pretty good english. She was also quite patient and friendly with our various questions.

                      lamb skewers (appetizer section)
                      I don't eat lamb but friend reports delicious. 6 to an order, at $6ish. smoky, slightly nutty from cumin, and pleasantly spicy. she doesn't think it would appeal to the chili averse.

                      green onion pancake (appetizer section)
                      best contrast of crispy, flaky, and tender I've had in a green onion pancake in a long time. definitely needs more green onions though.

                      pork and garlic chive steamed buns (bun section)
                      3 to an order. the one dud of our meal. the bun dough was insufficiently leavened and had an astringent aftertaste.

                      pork and chive dumplings (dumpling section)
                      ordered because was intrigued by the value for money - 15 dumplings for $5. all right for a dumpling fix: good meat to wrapper ratio, notable chive taste. but I think the wrapper didn't start with a elastic enough dough and was a bit overboiled. dumpling king on yonge and finch is better.

                      pork and bokchoi dumplings
                      see above.

                      green beans with ground pork (veg section)
                      ordered this after reading munchieHK's description. fab! beans were laced with barely distinguishable in good way caramelized bits of pork, with further crunch coming from the beans themselves and liberally sprinkled salt crystals. good "wok hei" and beans had nice charred spots from the (deep) frying. went wonderfully with rice. deliciously unhealthy.

                      pork slivers with chili and garlic/yu xiang pork
                      stir fry of of pork, carrot, bamboo shoot, and wood ear mushroom slivers. fragrant with garlic though not really that spicy or at all vinegary. I do think that this dish reflects the heavier hand northern chinese cuisine sometimes has with oil and salt, but it's meant to be served with rice, and I liked its simple homestyle flavours.

                      kung pao chicken
                      ok version of "real" kung pao chicken. not spicy enough though and no sichuan peppercorns. flavour-wise is rather muddled - I tasted mostly soy sauce, and imperceptible ginger, garlic, or scallions.

                      Damage for 3 hungry people and enough leftovers for lunch was a little over $50. In terms of dishes, I think we ordered pretty conservatively this time. My read, from visits and reading others' experiences on this thread, is that this restaurant has a talented chef trained in certain chinese regional cuisines, who does not dumb down flavours, ingredients, and yes, use of oil and salt. The risk is that it may not appeal to sufficient people to sustain the business, and that it may take repeat visits to discover the gems in the menu. Luckily, it's also fairly affordable and transit friendly. So: go with some adventurous eaters! try it out! = )

                      1. re: mapotofu

                        My opinion exactly, althoughh I hav been luckier than you with regard to my choices. I have not really had a bad course yet, just one that was less wonderful than the first time. I really do recommend #126. Apparently it is their specialty and we really enjoyed it. Several Mandarin speaking tables also ordered it. As for the lack of Szechuan peppercorns, I have not detected them in any dish so far. I think the Szechuan dishes like Kung Pao are really there as a compromise, to give stray gwailos something familiar to latch onto. I don't think the peppercorns are part of this cuisine at all, although cumin definitely is, which suits me fine...I love cumin. This chef is indeed talented and he can only get better. i sure hope they make it. I'll post photos next time.

                        1. re: munchieHK

                          You guys are awesome. I really look forward to trying this spot. I live 2 blocks away and always go to the same spots. Thanks for posting all this.

                    2. This is the most confusing thread I've ever seen.