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May 28, 2010 08:55 PM

Dwindling Good Chinese Food in the GTA

The Chinese food at Spring Villa ( Steeles/Woodbine), at its best, can rival most of the top Chinese fine dining establishments in town. Unfortunately, the meal I had tonight was overpriced and extremely disappointing!!

Our party of five had the following dishes:
- Soup of the day ( Honey dew melon with conpoy, whelk heads and pork )
- Live BC spotted prawns sauteed in Maggi sauce ( 1 lb )
- Steamed live Black Bass in top soy, ginger and scallions ( about 1.5 lbs )
- Rose scented soya sauce free range chicken ( 1/2 a chicken )
- Stirred fry pea shoots
- Fried pork chop with Chinese black rice vinegar glaze

Apart from the soup, prawns and the pea shoots which were well executed and tasty. The remaining three dishes were major disaster!

First, the fish! At a whopping $56, I was expecting it to be perfectly cooked. However, not only was it overcooked, the accompanying soya sauce was stingy and bland. IMO, for seafood, nothing's worse than eating an overcooked fish with insufficient sauce!

Next came the chicken. Nothing's wrong with it except once again, it's unexplainably bland! Emperor or Fantasy Eatery's versions are much much better and cheaper as well!

Finally, the flop of the evening! The untrimmed super fatty pork chop was heavily marinated with baking soda and corn starch before deep frying. The resulting slimy coating made it impossible for the vinegrette sauce to adhere to the morsels as well as render it impossible for one to identify the 'fat' from the meat. Horrible and greasy texture and sensation with every bite!!. This was complained to management and crossed off from our bill!

Total bill came to $157 for 5 dishes! For a simple family meal, this is quite excessive IMO!

Guess I'll just stick with their good dim sum lunch from now on!

Fantasy Eatery
505 7 Hwy E, Richmond Hill, ON L3T7P6, CA

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  1. Try "Hong Kong Noodle House" 8360 Kennedy Rd. Unit A3.
    Hand made 'mein' made by a middle aged Cantonese man weekly that doesn't taste like soap (it's a good thing in my opinion). Parents' claim that even noodle houses in HK don't make it like this any more. Besides noodles, the restaurant does other Hong Kong/ Cantonese style foods. Pan fried salted fish ('haam yue') that is actually two pieces of generously portioned good quality salted fish. Beef brisket that's tender enough to almost melt in your mouth. He makes his own preserved duck ('laap gnaap') and preserved meats (laap cheung, yun cheung, etc) and just about everything is done by the owners themselves either purely by hand or with some mechanical help (aka machinery and technology).

    Decors severely lacking and it's a small place, but it's clean. The official menu is tiny; majority of it is tacked onto the wall like 'fai chun' during New Years. You need to be able to read Chinese to order those ones. Service isn't horrifically slow, but it's primarily one lady who does everything from getting your order to cleaning the tables. The owner occasionally wanders over to talk to you and ask if the foods alright. Atmosphere is pretty quiet although it can get a little rowdy when regulars come by (just saw one tonight that was standing behind the counter and possibly even wandered into the kitchen to talk).

    2 Replies
    1. re: teaforpsychos

      Did Hong Kong Noodle House change hand ? It has been talked about on this board before but the wonton noodle is not up to par there, definitely far from the good ones in HK. I guess when you talk about handmade 'mein', you mean noodle made with Bamboo stick ? If yes, it is more like making noodle with the lower part of your body because you sit on the bamboo stick to press the flour dough. Even if the 'mein' is not made by using bamboo stick, many noodle shops have their own source of noodle supplier. And it really depends on one's preference whether one like "bamboo' style noodle or not, they do not taste the same.

      AND FYI, there are of course noodle shops in HK made Bamboo style wonton noodle.

      1. re: teaforpsychos

        I have more or less the same questions as skylineR33!

        I too have given it a try a few months ago and was not impressed by their won-ton noodles at all. The broth and won-ton were both not up to par. In fact the broth is soya sauce base and NOT shrimp eggs/dried tile fish base! As for the noodles used in Won-ton noodles. I am one who favours ' San Mien aka lyle water alkaline noodles' for won-ton noodles over the bamboo version. Even the best of the best Macau ones did not boost my interest?!! To each his own!
        However, your mentioning of the salted fish and home made preserved meat and duck sure sounded interesting. Hope the chef managed to import some ' fun Jiao aka Fun wine' for adding to the meat. This is what makes ' Nam on Preserved duck' taste so special. IMO. all preserved meat and sausages made outside of Hong Kong and China lacks this 'unique favour' due to absence of this wine in the mix!

      2. To be honest, I'm not sure. To any of the answers. He speaks chinese and I'm pretty much a banana. Half the things he says just go right over my head. I also didn't know that there was another one or one from before.

        From what I can remember and actually understood, he's mentioned that the mein is hand spun ('sau lai mein') however with the help of machinery to make the amount necessary (and probably because he's getting old). It is san mein if I remember correctly - the one that looks like the ones sold in T&T that's yellow and wavy and usually tastes heavy on the soap and usually thin that you eat either as lo mein or wonton mein? (just an example) He claims he makes it himself (didn't say where) every Monday (if I remember correctly).
        His soup base isn't soya sauce from what I can taste. He said that it was 'mature' chicken that's been simmered overnight. Not quite the traditional shrimp eggs or dried tile fish base.
        I'm not sure if I did taste the 'fun wine' or not since I don't think I've ever really had it. I also got lost when he was talking about the process for the duck and sausages.

        3 Replies
        1. re: teaforpsychos

          teaforpsychos, you misunderstand different type of chinese noodle. "Sau lai mein" (hand-pull noodle) is a different noodle than the noodle used in the Wonton noodle soup. The picture you show is the noodle for wonton noodle soup.

          "Sau Lai mein" is a noodle for the northern noodle soup such as "Lanzhou lai mein" which does not have the elasticity like the noodle used in wonton noodle soup.

          1. re: skylineR33

            I knew I'd get the terminology wrong. Bah, I need to brush up on my Chinese. Thanks for the correction.

            Terminology aside, that is what the noodle looks like in the food here, and he says he makes it by hand. I guess we'll leave this up to you guys to decide if the food is any good. I'm kind of new to this whole concept of 'good food'.

            1. re: teaforpsychos

              Welcome to the 'Fraternity'!! No doubt soon you'll become a ' foodie master'!

        2. So where is the "go to" place to introduce oneself to great Cantonese cuisine? I'm thinking of taking some friends to Maple Yip. If anyone has any recommended dishes (or an alternative restaurant) please let me know.