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Crown Princess Fine Dining - Verdict is good! :)

Pics: http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.co...

I headed for the Early Bird special - $3.10 per Dim Sum dish before 11AM if you pay in cash. Fantastic presentation, delicious dishes, and great company...I left happy and satisfied. Everything was so pretty - made for excellent food pr0n :P.

We had:

Dim Sum
Shrimp Dumpling (Har Gow
)Generously filled with whole shrimp and the skins were fresh!

Goose Liver & Caviar (Sui Mai)
The presentation of these changes up from time to time. My favourite dish of the meal. Topped with caviar and duck liver, it was filled with pork & shrimp. The combination was delicious, and I'll definitely be ordering them again.

Scallop Dumpling
These were topped with an orange dough, which had no flavour - but cute! Tasty scallops :)

Shrimp & Yellow Fungus Dumpling

Chicken Feet with Chef's Sauce
Despite numerous trips to Asia and previous dim sum meals, I've never tried them. While I have nothing to compare it to, I liked the sauce that they're braised in (which I also used to dip tentacles), as it was sweet and didn't overpower the dish.

BBQ Pork Bun
These BBQ pork buns have temporarily subdued intense Jjinppang Mandu (giant Korean dumplings - I can't find them in Toronto!*) cravings that I've been having lately.
Hot, fresh, and filled with sweet BBQ pork these were tasty and we ordered another round after we polished them off.

*If anyone knows of a place that serves them...I'll forever be in your debt if you tip me off

Baked & Fried
Fried Octopus Tentacles
Yum. These were really well cooked - not at all rubbery and nicely seasoned. I'd order this again! These were much better than the ones that I've had at food festivals because they were freshly made to order. I was pleased that my friend who never tried them enjoyed them too.

Fried Sticky Dumpling with Meat
Pan Fried Meat & Veggie Dumpling
These green dumplings were browned at the bottom, full of bready dumpling goodness.

Rice Noodle Wrapped with Spring Roll
Yum...crunchy & fresh

Steamed Flour Rolls
BBQ Pork Flour Roll

Shrimp & Vegetable Flour Roll
I always order this dish when I go for dim sum! I love flour rolls filled with seafood and topped with some soy sauce. I am very pleased with Crown Princess' roll - it was fresh and generously filled with both shrimp and veggies.

Dessert
Mango Pudding
The fish-shaped pudding on a puddle of condensed milk was a tasty end to our meal. Makes up for the awful sticky mango rice I had the other week. The condensed milk with the Jello-like pudding was so good!

Chrysanthemum & Lychee Cake
This cake was pretty much a very thick Jello. You can stab it with your chopstick and just eat it like a treat-on-a-stick. I was surprised at how prominent the chrysanthemum flavour was, and the lychee bits were plentiful and had a very fruity taste.

Overall, my impressions of Crown Princess Fine Dining are quite positive. Everything came out with great presentation and very fresh. It's easy to order if you don't have a friend who can speak Cantonese - but I am glad my friend was there to talk to the staff as we had to find out which dishes may have eggs or nuts due to an allergy at the table.

The dining area was very impressive - a banquet-sized dining area (you can rent it for weddings), tables outdoors (although it's getting cold...so I don't think I'll be sitting out there anytime soon), a side dining area, and a couple of private wings.

At $3.10 a dish before 11AM, the value felt good for the calibre of the food. I've been to Bright Pearl in downtown Chinatown, which is also a bit cheaper if you're not concerned about presentation and quality. Given it's location, wonderfully decorated dining areas, and delicious dishes I think it's safe to say that Crown Princess will be around for awhile!

Erin
http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

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Bright Pearl
346 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G2, CA

Early Bird Restaurant
2 Merritt St, St Catharines, ON L2T1J3, CA

Crown Prince
3600 Victoria Park Ave, North York, ON M2H 3B2, CA

Crown Princess
1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

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  1. Interesting. Thanks for the thorough review, ekim256! And great blog, by the way. Any idea of ownership -- i.e. if the resto is affiliated with any other dim sum places in the city?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Yum2MyTum

      I believe that it's the sister restaurant to North York's Crown Prince (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/669292
      )I haven't tried it, as I don't make it up to North York that often and I'm so happy that there's a delicious dim sum option downtown. Especially since I noticed that Bright Pearl appears to be closed, and I can't afford Lai Wah Heen (Although I suppose if I skipped a couple of Crown Princess Runs and saved up, I could reasonably do so and compare). What would be helpful is if someone who's been to LWH and CP could compare the two...anyone? :-)
      Erin
      http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

      PS. Thanks! It's been fun sharing food pics outside of my little Facebook circle. =)

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

      Bright Pearl
      346 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G2, CA

      Crown Prince
      3600 Victoria Park Ave, North York, ON M2H 3B2, CA

      1. re: Yum2MyTum

        The Crown Princess is owned by the same people that own the Crown Prince on Victoria Park and Tempo in North York. There is a very "loose" connection to the Casa group (Victoria and Imperial), but nothing of an official basis...in fact I understand there is a disclaimer on the Casa web-site stating there is no affiliation to the Crowns.

        -----
        Crown Prince
        3600 Victoria Park Ave, North York, ON M2H 3B2, CA

      2. Gotta hit that early-bird special!!
        Looks good - nice to hear that they're not slouching...

        1 Reply
        1. re: jlunar

          Not everything's $3.10. Only the dishes that are regularly $5.30 (large) or $4.30 (medium) though that's the majority of the menu and the two dishes on the menu that are already $3.10.

          The siu mai are $6.30.

          Still a steal and better than paying full price.

        2. Thanks for the great review and I really like your blog as well!

          What are their hours and do they offer dim sum on weekdays or just weekends? I work in the area and would love to do a dim sum lunch. :)

          2 Replies
          1. re: sasgirl

            Thanks! I really appreciate the compliment =)
            I should have made it more obvious, but I posted their menu online: http://lh4.ggpht.com/_3gA3wtg4v6w/TIf...

            On it, it says that they offer dim sum everyday

            Thanks for the note curnonsky - I should have mentioned that as well! They're definitely not slouching, I definitely left with a smile...and will probably go back tomorrow morning :-). I'm sold!

            Erin
            http://cookiesandtomatoes.blogspot.com/

            1. re: sasgirl

              They definitely do dim sum on weekdays since I've gone with colleagues to try out the restaurant. Overall quite good and I enjoyed the lunch. Everything looked fantastic, but some of the dishes lacked flavor, including basics like pork ribs in black bean sauce.

              I'm glad the restaurant is there, but I wouldn't make a special trip downtown for it.

            2. I seriously hope they'll be around for a long while, but I have my doubts about whether they will be profitable enough. It all depends on whether they get enough dinner business and weekend business. Given how much money must have been invested in the place, I don't think they'll be able to make do with revenue from dim sum only and certainly can't rely just on those of us who work in the area coming by for lunch once in a while.

              14 Replies
              1. re: echerub

                They also do a $1000 dinner, I think for weddings. They definitely sunk a lot of money into revamping the place - the interior is really nice!
                I think that they might do well on the weekends - it's a nice option for the area. Here's hoping, anyways

                1. re: echerub

                  It's been open for two weeks now, and I pass it every day on my way to/from work. Even at peak dim sum and dinner times it's maybe at 1/4 -1/3 capacity (though it's a big space). It's great to have downtown, but it's still 30% more expensive than uptown dim sum, and it's not that consistent yet (I've been several times, and had very different meals in terms of tastes and textures each time) . I think the consistency and taste will improve, but probably not the price.

                  I hope they get some TIFF business, this location hasn't really led to successful restaurants in the past, and it might take a while for Chinese "Fine Dining" to catch on given the demographics of the neighbourhood. The copy shop owner and I were really excited, but that's not enough to base your business on! I'll keep making Saturday morning visits while they're open, though.

                  1. re: Underdog Rally

                    You bad ekim256!! I am now having a very serious craving for har gow and sui mei. Seriously though, looks fantastic, great pics. Thanks for sharing. Will def put this spot on the list. Fall is a great time for dim sum.

                    1. re: Underdog Rally

                      Which uptown places would you recommend as better alternatives?

                      1. re: Full tummy

                        I should specify that by uptown, I mean the Hwy 7 stretch. There are plenty of reviews in other threads, but I usually go to one of the Ambassador Group places when visiting family (Ambassador, Celestial Court, etc. ) . With friends, we usually go to a cheaper option, but I have no idea what the places are called (sorry!), since I normally just show up and eat.

                        As I mentioned in another thread, I think they're trying to emulate Lai Wah Heen's approach to fine dining, and they seem to understand that their audience at this location is pretty diverse. I would love to visit Crown Princess more often, but alas, the prices outside of happy hour prevent it from being part of my regular lunch rotation.

                        1. re: Full tummy

                          Yes, uptown would be quite uptown. Their sister restaurant, as someone mentioned earlier at Victoria Park is not bad at all. Again, they have an early bird special, even on Saturdays, and its not as expensive as $3.10.. as I can recall, it was more like $2.10 per dish, excluding all the Specials and XL sized items. Parking there is a nightmare though. Also would recommend the one at Woodbine and Denison (sorry, I'm bad with names). It too has an early bird special, and is spacious and elegant. Both have beautiful rooms to sit in.

                          Speaking of parking though - do they have parking at Crown Princess?

                          -----
                          Crown Prince
                          3600 Victoria Park Ave, North York, ON M2H 3B2, CA

                          1. re: jennjen18

                            There are several parking options. Quite a few spots available on the street (probably a good bet if you're there for the early bird), a large lot across the street adjacent to St Basil's church (managed by the University, available till condo construction starts), and underground parking below 1033 Bay (entrance off St Joseph street). That's in order of expense and accessibility.

                            1. re: jennjen18

                              Early Bird price was $2.80 for SML at Crown Prince when I went 2 months ago. Need to go prior to 10:00 am to avoid "parking nightmares". Place at Woodbine and Denison is named Spring Villa....7301 Woodbine Avenue, Markham. Most places in Markham/Scarborough have Early Bird specials these days....there's a price war on Dim Sum going on!

                              1. re: T Long

                                Let the war continue :D w00t! I hope it catches the downtown core too
                                $2.80 would be great downtown...not worth the extra time/effort to go up there

                                1. re: ekim256

                                  Price war is bad, it will only bring down quality. It is the last thing you want if you like good quality dim sum.

                                  Dim sum uptown is already not as good as before, price war is one of the factor of the lower quality.

                                  1. re: skylineR33

                                    Just curious if anyone has tried dim sum at these high end places both during the early bird discounted hours vs the regular price hours, and is there a difference in terms of quality or portion size?

                                    As of late I've been having problems getting my 2 kids out of the house and to the dim sum place before the early bird time runs out.

                                    1. re: Royaljelly

                                      I have tried Crown Prince, Emperor and Paradise for early bird and regular. Noticed no difference in quality or portion. Just that the crowd dies down after happy hour.

                                      What I liked about Crown Princess and Paradise is that the dim sum came piping hot which means it was brought to us right away.

                                      Crown princess was pretty full when I went at 10:30. Same with Crown Prince. In the past, Emperor and Paradise were about 70% full when we went for early bird.

                                      -----
                                      Crown Princess
                                      1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA

                                  2. re: ekim256

                                    Just read your blog....big thumbs up!

                                    1. re: T Long

                                      Thanks T Long :)
                                      I've also been addicted to mixed nuts lately...great comfort food

                        2. Wow-thanks for the heads up. Will definitely check it out-good location for me too.

                          SWS

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                            We go to Crown Prince early bird. I think it's $2.80 if order placed before 11am weekdays.

                            Another good option is the one at Leslie and Finch. i think that one is Paradise. $2.80 early bird as well. And we also like the Emperor. That is our favourite.

                            -----
                            Crown Princess
                            1033 Bay Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3A5, CA