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Stunningly tacky experience at Casa Imperial

munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 12:31 PM

Happened to be at Pacific Mall the other day and encouraged by previous positive reviews of this place, we decided to give it a shot. Mistake. I have never been to such a pretentious, overpriced, mediocre dim sum restaurant in my life.
When we arrived, the decor induced a bout of giggling from my wife, but we decided to consider it cute and eccentric. The service that followed was anything but! Somehow, these people have deluded themselves into believing that they are serving aristocrats at Versailles rather than hawking dumplings at a weird dim sum theme restaurant. I have never encountered such haughty staff'. At every turn we were made to feel as if we were being shown some great honour by being permitted to eat there. To cap it all off, when we were leaving, I was accosted by the head waiter who demanded to know where the tip was (I had paid by Interac). Upon being told that it had been left in cash on the table, he said 'Oh' and walked away. No apology. That is about as tacky as it gets. I wish that I actually had stiffed them on the tip now.
As for the food, it was hit and miss. There were a couple of inventive dishes, but they weren't particularly well executed. It was very standard dim sum. In no way was it worth paying more than double what I would pay at Pearl Court or some similar joint. In truth, I enjoy both the food and the overall dining experience more at places like Pearl Court or Rol San. I can certainly understand why one would pay more to eat at Yang's or Emperor, they are truly worth it, but Casa Imperial adds new dimensions to the word awful.

-----
Rol San
323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

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

  1. Crispier Crouton Mar 27, 2010 07:15 AM

    Gotta agree with everything you said. Most of the dishes were average, with a few highlights (for me it was their Cantonese seafood chow mein) but their actual dim sum really disappointed, and would still have if they were Spring Villa prices, a place I find superior in virtually every way. My benchmark is the lo bak go and Casa's was pasty and sad.

    For that premium, give me ambassador, Yang's or Grand Chinese Cuisine.

    I'm surprised no one mentioned the waitresses' ridiculous and horrible maid uniforms.

    -----
    Grand Chinese Cuisine
    655 Dixon Rd, Toronto, ON M9W1J3, CA

    1. n
      neighborguy Mar 27, 2010 06:19 AM

      munchieHK, I love your review. Once I got over my outrage, I could see a visit in my future (never been to CI) just for the experience. Our default dimsum is from Pearl Court, Rol San, Forrestview and Noble.

      As sad as you make the delusion of the staff sound, on some aspect I'm sure this can be entertainment. Sorry for your experience. When you pay bigger bucks like that you should get something in return.

      -----
      Rol San
      323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

      1. FoodieGirl29 Mar 26, 2010 03:47 PM

        PS - was it cart service here or ordering from the kitchen?

        1 Reply
        1. re: FoodieGirl29
          munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 04:09 PM

          It's card service. They are far too 'high class' for carts. It's not in Pacific Mall. It's a bit further west on Steeles. The place at the top of Pacific Mall is nothing special either. I'd go to Emperor next time. Lai Wah Heen if I'm downtown. Dynasty is not in the same league really, but not bad.

        2. skylineR33 Mar 26, 2010 12:44 PM

          I have to agree with you on the food at Casa Imperial. It has been going downhill lately again with Casa Imperial. There is only one thing in common with the dim sum at Casa Imperial - jumbo size with poor quality. The dim sum scene in Toronto area is not very consistent and this is the main problem with Chinese restaurants in here. Oh well, I am still looking for a passable Har Gow in Toronto, I have not seen that for years.

          10 Replies
          1. re: skylineR33
            munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 01:03 PM

            My benchmark is chicken feet. I am very particular about the texture and taste and I have not yet found any satisfactory ones in Toronto. They are always under cooked here and some of the sauces are just weird. I actually have better luck on the carts, because they get to steam a little longer. Every time i order them from a card, I am disappointed.

            1. re: munchieHK
              FoodieGirl29 Mar 26, 2010 03:46 PM

              WOW! That is tacky. I have eaten at a lot of dim sum places and that is pretty outrageous. We are regulars at Rol San and I could never imagine any of the staff members there demanding their tip!

              Is Casa Imperial the one on the top level of Pacific Mall? Making mental note not to go there.

              IF you are looking for really good dim sum in Toronto, try Dynasty Chinese Cuisine on Bloor St. I was there for lunch this week and it was around $70 with tax & tip for 2 people and nine items of dim sum. Yes, pricey. But they do a superior har gow and use quality ingredients. I rank it just below Lai Wah Heen and a step above Pearl Harbourfront.

              Lisa - The Hip & Urban Girl's Guide @ http://www.hipurbangirl.com

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

              Rol San
              323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

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

              Dynasty Chinese Cuisine
              2961 35 Hwy, Lindsay, ON K9V, CA

              1. re: FoodieGirl29
                skylineR33 Mar 26, 2010 04:39 PM

                Lai Wah Heen's dim sum is not as good as before too. I do think it is the best in Toronto area with a price to pay. Speaking of Har Gow, and if we use HK's Fook Lam Moon as a reference for a full mark of 10, I will give LWH's version a score of 4 max. It's skin, seasoning in the shrimp used, quality of shrimp, the way it is wrapped, missing bamboo shoot ..... just does not make the cut. It does not even clean the shrimp properly last time I ate there... what a pity.

                1. re: FoodieGirl29
                  T Long Mar 26, 2010 09:23 PM

                  Casa Imperial can be expensive, especially if they don't give you their regular customer discount (free tea and 10% off), but I've never had any problems with the service. Quality wise, their dim sum is below LWH's, but above Dynasty's. It was even better when it first opened. I found the Emperor in RH to be similar (quality-wise) to Dynasty with perhaps more selection/variety. Like you, I'm also a fan of Rol San.

                  -----
                  Rol San
                  323 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

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

                  1. re: T Long
                    munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 09:33 PM

                    Have you been recently?

                    1. re: munchieHK
                      T Long Mar 26, 2010 09:40 PM

                      To Casa, within last 2 months and several times before that. Dynasty within last year; Emperor with last 6 months; Rol San within last 9 months; LWH within last 3 years.

                      1. re: T Long
                        munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 09:59 PM

                        I'm surprised. Of course, if you are a regular, you may get preferential treatment. I'm surprised that you think the dim sum better than Dynasty. I found it to be of a lower standard and very inconsistent from one dish to the next. Even if I felt the dim sum was worth what they charge, being chased out the door by some idiot who thinks he's not getting his tip means I'll never step foot in there again. No class at all.

                        1. re: munchieHK
                          T Long Mar 26, 2010 10:08 PM

                          I'm not a regular, but I was courteous to the staff and got the discount the last time....my recollection is that I just smiled at the "captain". Regarding the quality...that's subjective and we have different opinions.

                          1. re: T Long
                            munchieHK Mar 26, 2010 10:38 PM

                            We are always very courteous to wait staff. I spent long enough waiting tables when I was a student to never be impolite or under-tip. This is the first time in Toronto I have encountered service anything like this. Believe me, we smiled until our faces ached. I even smiled when the guy chased us out the door. The alternative was to punch him and I didn't fancy the odds!
                            As for the quality, you are of course correct. It is entirely subjective.

                            1. re: munchieHK
                              koknia Mar 27, 2010 08:18 PM

                              I would have shown him where the money was, then picked it up and put it back in my pocket.

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