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May 4, 2010 01:40 PM

Need Asian restaurant recommendation in Toronto DT and GTA

Hi, I am a noobie to the board, but have been lurking for a few years and now I needed some help. I have spend a few days digging all over the board, but most of the review are from 2008. So, would like to make sure those restaurants still exist.

I am travelling to Toronto with my family to meeting up with my folks who lives in Edmonton. They heard that asian food are superb in Toronto and would like to eat their way through Toronto. My family is from Chicago area so there's really not a lot Authentic spectacular asian restaurant that my folks approved of. We care about the food quality the most... decor and atmosphere, not so much. We are staying at Marriott at Eaton centre. So, now that I have set up the background... Here're some of the things I need help.

1. Good Authentic Dim Sum place in both DT and GTA. I know Markham has a lot of restaurants, but would like to hit the best ones. Someone also mentioned Grand Chinese Restaurant. Is it still there? Is it still good?

2. Good Peking Duck: From what I have read, seems Chung King Garden Restaurant is the one I should try.

3. My mother adores sashimi: Where can I find the best and hopefully reasonable price sashimi around?

4. Awesome Korean BBQ place: Both my husband and myself loves Korean BBQ. Where should we go? An AYCE place would be awesome!!

5. Good Shanghai/northern Chinese Restaurant: Need some good Xiao Lung Bao and Dumplings!!!

6. Any YOU MUST TRY places in Toronto?? It's been 4 yrs since I last went, would love to try some new stuff!!!

Thank you so much for all your help!!!

Chung King Garden Restaurant
4394 Steeles Ave E, Markham, ON L3R9V9, CA

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  1. Lai Wah Heen is not bad downtown at the Metropolitan for peking duck or just a general chinese food experience, great food!

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

    6 Replies
    1. re: foodiction2

      I went there 4 yrs ago and found the dim sum only so so. I am Chinese and really would like to have the authentic dim sum. I remembered tasting the expensive shark fin dumpling and it was only okay. However, it was pretty expensive for so so food. May be it has changed since then? Or that their evening dinner is better than dim sum?

      1. re: TravelGracie

        LWH provides both authentic and newer style/innovative dim sum. It has the best dim sum you can find in Toronto area. Maybe you went on a off day, but if it is not good enough for you, nowhere you can find in Toronto (including Grand and all those in Richmond Hill/markam) that can match it's overall quality.

        1. re: skylineR33

          Speaking for dim sum only, downtown:

          LWH does have good quality, but is pricey - two hungry people who like dim sum and are not in a rush can easily tally a bill of $100 or more and still be hungry afterwards, so you have to know that going in. It will be really close to where you are staying, though. I actually prefer Lai Toh Heen (LWH's sister restaurant, at Mt. Pleasant south of Eglinton). I find the quality to be good, not quite as creative as LWH but still interesting, and a bit less formal & pricey.

          For upper-end decent but not necessarily the best DS, there's Dynasty in Yorkville, and Pearl Harbourfront (nice for visitors because of the great view of the lake if you reserve a window table). There are of course other places that are cheaper. A lot depends upon expectations for price vs. quality, do you want carts or ordering off the card, etc. The best for both is still north/Markham, there are others who are experts on those places (I don't get out that way enough to stay current).

          Happy eating!

          Lai Toh Heen
          692 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

          1. re: skylineR33

            Get outside of the downtown area (ie: Richmond Hill) and you'll find a handful of places that do dim sum better than LWH. Don't get me wrong, LWH is good, but there's a lot of really good spots outside of the downtown core.

            1. re: goodcookiedrift

              Which one ? Yangs, Emperor, Casa Imperial ....etc I have eaten almost every places in Richmond Hill, LWH is just in another level when comparing with them.

              1. re: goodcookiedrift

                Agree with skylineR33!!
                There's nothing in Markham/Richmond Hill/Scarborough that has across the board 'consistently' high standard dim sum as Lai Wah Heen. A few like the Casa's, Empire court, Yang's, Emperor, Regal16, Spring Villa, Regal palace..etc may have a few stand out dim sum offerings, but on the whole LWH is still the best across the board and the most inventive/exotic!

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

        2. Speaking for DT only

          1. Rol Son on Spadina
          2. E Pan on Spadina
          3. Ichi Riki on Bloor near Yonge
          4. almost all the AYCE Korean BBQ are run by Chinese and are not very authentic. If you just want to pig out and have fun grilling, there's one on Yonge near College which is close to the Marriott
          5. check the reviews for Mothers Dumplings and Family Dumplings

          Better restos are mostly in Markham though.

          Have fun!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Teep

            Thank you.. will definately try. I am pretty sure we will spend a day out at Pacific Mall.

            1. re: TravelGracie

              If you are going to be at Pac mall you might want to try the Korean BBQ there, connected to Market Village, I like that place. Upon request they serve the lettuce, garlic, chili peppers, wrap stuff that you sometimes get with Korean BBQ. I think wrapping the meat in lettuce is a great way to eat it. I don't know if it is AYCE but the prices are very reasonable.

          2. We just tired the Dumpling King near Yonge and Finch and it was great :) Read recommendations for it online and it did not disappoint. It is a small restaurant, not very big, like 5 tables. Man serving the food was very nice.

            Dumpling King
            15 Northtown Way, Toronto, ON , CA

            24 Replies
            1. re: girlstar

              Hey TravelGracie! I lived in Chicago for a while some years back and agree with you re: the state of Chinese food there. Here in Toronto, Chinese food is some of the best dining and oh-so-reasonable too! Will try to address your questions in the order you listed:

              Dim sum: I gave up eating dim sum DT years ago. Scarborough and Hwy 7 is the New Chinatown. Lai Wah Heen is probably the most palatable dim sum DT; most expensive too. The only other place I'd do dim sum DT is Pearl at Queen's Quay, but that is NOT to say that I love it. Uptown, there are a million places. My current favourite is MILLIKEN BAR AND GRILL (I know - weird name for a Chinese restaurant). It's on Finch east of Kennedy. I eat there every weekend. Most of the fancy Chinese restaurants on Hwy 7 do good dim sum but some are over-priced. There's also Honey & Garlic Restaurant (great hanging dragon decorations), the sister restaurant of "Ga Yun Gung" (sorry, forgot the English name) in Market Village. Both good dim sum places, although a bit of a rougher style.

              Peking Duck: Chung King is good, with pretty poor service. Make sure you have a reservation or they may grufflly turn you away! PD has almost become a commodity and most decent Chinese restaurants (even Cantonese Chinese restaurants) can whip out a decent duck without your pre-ordering. Even the aforementioned Milliken Bar & Grill can accomodate you at night for PD.

              Sashimi: I lived in Tokyo for 4 years so I have pretty high expectations of Japanese-style anything. There are very few Japanese-owned restaurants in the GTA. Most are Korean or Chinese and some do a pretty good job. For all you can eat japanese (including raw fish), I would go to Wasabi on Hwy 7.

              AYCE Korean BBQ: Along Yonge Street north of Sheppard, there is a mile of restaurants, mostly Korean. Great pork bone soup, bbq, tofu hot pot... I don't usually eat AYCE Korean BBQ. I would just go to Sariwon or Korea House. For AYCE, your best bet is probably somewhere DT on Bloor, west of Spadina. That's Little Korea.

              Shanghai dumplings: My parents are from Shanghai (in fact, I'm going there this summer to visit and see the Expo) so I take my xiao long bao VERY seriously. The only place I ever liked was Ding Tai Fung, over in Woodbine Mall, Hwy 7. They were closed for a while (renovating) and I think they are open again. I used to go to the original one in Taipei. My all-round dumpling pig-out occurs in a little place off of Steeles & Woodbine. It's in a Taiwanese shopping mall (near the T&T market). Sorry, I will have to get the name for you.

              Other good Asian places:
              New Shatin, Spadina (Chinatown). Great Cantonese.
              Jade Garden, Spadina, no MSG Cantonese.
              Hello Cafe (Yonge nr Finch) : world's freshest and biggest shrimp wonton and noodles
              Ajisen ramen house (Yonge nr Finch or new location DT)

              1. re: Aleta

                I think Hello is not even close to any of the world's standard for wonton noodle. I would suggest OP to stay away from shrimp wonton noodle in Toronto. There is no good ones in Toronto.

                1. re: skylineR33

                  skylineR33, perhaps I was being a bit exuberant about Hello Cafe but do note that I said "shrimp wonton AND noodles", not wonton noodle.

                  I disagree that "there is no good ones in Toronto". First of all, Hello Cafe uses the recipe from Tzim Tzai Gai, one of Hong Kong's best wonton cafes. I suppose you are familiar with them? Second, Toronto's standard of Chinese food is really quite good and if you are one of those "egg noodle connoisseurs" who can debate for days over which purveyor of egg noodles reigns supreme, I have to tell you that most of the world can't tell the difference and doesn't even care.

                  Instead of just criticizing a suggestion, perhaps you can give a better one, instead of saying, "there is no good ones in Toronto".

                  1. re: Aleta

                    Thank you Aleta!!!! Your recommendation is so detailed!! This is an awesome list!!! I am sure my parents will be walking on clouds after I finish taking them on the tour of FOOD. It's so funny, I talked to a lot of my friends that are ethnic (ie Italian, Jews, Indian)...It' amazing how good food rank very highly on a good trip. Sightseeing is good, but good food is what makes the trip for my folks!!

                    1. re: Aleta

                      On the subject of Wonton noodles, I totally agree with skylineR33 100%!

                      Please read my posting on ' the best Won ton noodles' on the China board! 'Tzim Tzai Gai' 's version of Wonton noodles with its golf ball size wonton is a travesty. The broth is mediocre and the omission of sprinkling shrimp eggs and yellowing chives at the end renders it less than authentic! In Hong Kong, true foodies use 'Tasty's', Mak's ( Wellinton street' branch ), Mak Man Kee or Ho Hung Kee as the yardstick!

                      Hello's standard, be it the noodles ( not fine enough), broth ( too bland, lacking the taste of shrimp egg, toasted tile fish and buddha fruit ), wonton ( way too big to satisfy the one morsel per mouthful criteria ) or condiments ( no lard, yellowing chives or shrimp eggs used ) are no where near the standard of the aforementioned establishments! Its like making sushi the size of a hotdog!

                      My wife too was from Shanghai and she was there just a few months ago. In her opinion, the Xiao Long Bao from ' Northern Dumpling Kitchen' inside Time Square is at par if not better than Ding Tai Fung! The only Ding Tai Fung that is genuinely good is NOT in Shanghai but in Taipei and TST Hong Kong!!

                      For Peking Duck, try 'Emperor' in Richmond Hill. They have a $19.99 duck 2 ways special every Monday. Very good quality. 'Yang's' further up the road is slightly better but also more expensive!

                      For Sashimi and sushi, I will never touch any of the AYCE places, especially those own and run by Chinese like Wasabi. Very commercialized and fish variety very common. Very often, they use lesser quality varietal like Talapia as Tai or Hamachi substitute. Furthermore, good quality sushi is all to do with the 'rice' - shari. IMO, apart from Zen, sometimes Kaji and the 'old' Hiro, Japanese restaurants in Toronto especially the AYCE ones simply have shari that are really sub-par. Even Toronto's best like Zen, when compared to some of Tokyo's 'good not best' ones is like night and day. ( I'm not even using places like Jiro, Sawada or Saito to compare!! ). Therefore, one can imagine the shari of those AYCE places?! IMHO,there are better things to eat and explore in Toronto than AYCE sushis!!

                      Korean food around the Yonge and Finch corridor is a better alternative!

                      Have fun exploring!

                      Northern Dumpling Kitchen
                      550 7 Hwy E, Richmond Hill, ON L4B3Z4, CA

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Charles, thanks for the suggestion of Northern Dumpling Kitchen. I'll try it sometime soon for the xiao long bao.

                        Your comments on the subject of wonton noodles were exactly what I expected. People always get so caught up in debating which place has the best broth, texture of egg noodle, size of wonton etc. I lived and worked in HK for years and I have been to the places you named. It is obvious that you prefer Mak's or Mak Man over Tzim Tzai Gai. My dad always says he doesn't like Tzim Tzai Gai's wonton because he can't put the whole thing in his mouth. Well, maybe he should eat it in several bites :-)

                        To be more constructive and not just critical, perhaps you could suggest to the original poster a wonton place in Toronto that YOU like.

                        1. re: Aleta

                          ' Chicken and Noodle Place' aka ' 'Jun Jun' ( Cantonese pronounciation ) at the corner of Sheppard and Glen Warlford. IMO. closest resemblance of authentic Hong Kong style WTN. Only place in the GTA that actually uses shrimp eggs and yellowing chives. Broth is pretty good but in occasion, fellow foodie like skylineR33 found it a bit too salty! Won ton is nice and crunchy. One of the finest noodle strands in town.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            I guess I am out of luck, the few times I tried Jun Jun, their wonton noodle soup base is too artificial, too much of MSG used and lack the clear broth taste,feel and look from a well prepared toasted dried tile fish. The noodle becomes soft too quick when simmered in the soup for a short time before I finished 1/2 of it. Wonton is not as bad but still miss the freshness and well-balanced flavor from a good one, definitely is not freshly made. Take Mak's in HK as a yardstick for a score of 5 out of 5, I will give Jun Jun a 1.5 ....

                            1. re: skylineR33

                              Hello skylineR33!
                              I am soooo surprise to hear about the detail of your experience with Jun Jun!! With 180deg difference between us, we have to meet up one day and head over there and try again!! Make sure its not their busy hours so that we can try their full potential!! Using your yardstick, the best Jun Jun version I experienced deserved about a 3.0-3.5.

                              On the subject of soft noodles. I also remember the time I ate at Hung Hum's 'Tasty'. The waitress was busy chatting and did not bring the wonton noodle over immediately after it was made. The noodles were way beyond al dente so I requested them to take it back!! If one make such request in Toronto, most probably they'll spit into the soup?!! Ha!

                        2. re: Charles Yu

                          I am so glad that I now have a place fore Xiao Lung Bao and Won Ton noodle. My Dad's and my favourite!!! Thank you so much!! I will try the non-AYCE place for Sashimi. My mom loves fresh yummy fish!!!

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            There are far more experts on here that have already weighted in so I will just give you my 2 cents...

                            I agree with Charles on re: sushi. AYCE sushi restaurants (aforementioned one in particular) are not superb examples of sushi restaurants in this City. (Though sushi in Toronto is not comparable to the gold standards in Japan or even Vancouver...) I do, however, highly recommend Zen if you want sushi over your trip to our fair city. Be warned -It's in a part of the town that has seen better days (but it is by no means unsafe.) You'll just be wondering - "where did TO CH'ers send me?"

                            Enjoy your culinary tour of our city.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Too many abbreviations! What in heaven's name is TST?

                              1. re: prairie_dog

                                TST=Tsim Sha Tsui, a district in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

                            2. re: Aleta

                              There is also a 'Tzim Tzai Gai' branch in Richmond Hill on Hwy 7, but even not comparing to Mak's or Tasty, Hong Kong 's Tzim Tzai Gai is much better in all criteria, be it noodle, shrimp wonton or soup base. Have you tried it in HK for a comparison ? It is quite misleading to say it is world level because there are tons of them which are better out there.

                              There are many other choice for Japanese Food other than all you can eat up north. Other than Charles' recommendation, there are Cafe Michi for chirashi or Aoyama for sushi up north which provides good quality Japanese food, also Yuzu or Japango in DT for reasonable priced sushi. There is no need to go to AYCE for a tourist visiting Toronto.

                              1. re: skylineR33

                                Second the Yuzu recommendation. Comparable if not better than Michi or Aoyama for sushi.

                                1. re: T Long

                                  Is Yuzu Japanese own and operated? Especially the sushi chef (s)?!!

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    Don't know...don't care is what's important. I understand it has some connection to Japango

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      Yuzu is owned by the owner of the original Japango.

                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                        who is Korean...not that there's anything wrong with that...Marimba!

                            3. re: Aleta

                              Could you give us an address for New Shatin and Jade Garden?...I've worked in the area (Dundas & Spadina) for years and never heard of either...Ajisen downtown not that great...spaghetti!...much prefer Kenzo on Dundas for ramen...Marimba!

                              138 Dundas St. W., Toronto, ON , CA

                              1. re: Marimba

                                Marimba, I meant LEE Garden, not Jade Garden. Name lost in translation, sorry. And the correct English name of Little Shatin is NEW SKY Restaurant. Maybe I should read the English names and menus more often instead of relying on the Chinese ones.

                                New Sky Restaurant, 353 Spadina Avenue, Toronto (416) 596-8787

                                1. re: Aleta

                                  A few years back, when New Sky was next to Swatow, their Cantonese cuisine was worth the drive downtown from way up north! Well executed with lots of wok-hey. One stand out dish was their steamed dungeness crab on sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. Now that they have moved to a new location down the road, I've heard repetitive comments that the food has gone down hill?! Is it true? How's the food these days

                                  New Sky
                                  353 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G3, CA

                                  309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

                                  1. re: Charles Yu

                                    New Sky was next to Swatow?...Wasn't that Golden Leaf?...Marimba!

                                    New Sky
                                    353 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G3, CA

                                2. re: Marimba

                                  Toronto is not a place for both ramen and wonton noodle. I find Ajisen and Kenzo are not much different in quality nowadays. Kenzo's noodle is too strong of a alkaline taste. I have tried Ajisen's in both their downtown and Yonge/Finch location and find their noodle has improved, not as hard as before and definitely without the heavy alkaline taste like Kenzo's. Actually, the type of noodle used at Ajisen is a kind of harder noodle which is very common in Japan.

                            4. As is always mentioned on this board, O Mei for it's Lobster 4 ways is really incredbile. It's quite expensive, but I would say worth it if you want to try!

                              O Mei
                              248 Steeles Ave W, Thornhill, ON L4J1A1, CA

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Wil

                                How much are we talking about... ? I can celebrate belated Mother's day there with her!

                                1. re: TravelGracie

                                  There are tons of post on Omei, just try to search for it on this board, they provide excellent lobster dish (best in Toronto) but is quite expensive at $19 a pound.

                              2. For 6. Guu!
                                Guu is a Japanese izakaya with phenomenol food (Japanese tapas at a fairly reasonable price point). It is still pretty popular, and without any reservations taken, you need to show up before 5pm to guarantee a seat, otherwise there could be a long line. Highly recommended though!

                                398 Church Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2A2, CA