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Help! Repatriated Torontonian baffled by the Chinese food!

s
samehhanna Sep 15, 2010 05:18 AM

So, I grew up here but lived in 4 different US cities over almost 20 years until returing to Toronto last year. I, along with my wife and kids, have travelled all over the US. In EVERY place we've been, big or small, we could walk into a chinese restaurant and get fresh, tasty chinese food. We assumed as we were planning our return to Toronto that, given the sizeable Asian community, locating a good goto chinese restaurant would be no problem. We have struggled. Thai food? No problem. Japanese, Vietnamese, even Korean? Lots of choices. Chinese food has been a problem. I want to be very specific so you guys can help. For me this has boiled down to 2 main areas.

1. "Authentic" vs. "Good". This is always a challenge when seeking reviews online. Different cultures develop different taste profile expectations, get used to different textures and qualities of ingredients. I am NOT looking for something that is authentic. That is easy to find. I am looking for something good, fresh, tasty. I want crisp, fresh vegetables, quality well prepared proteins, complex flavourful sauces that are neither runny, over corn-starched or sickly sweet. I am not looking for an Andrew Zimmern style food challenge just homey, westernized but not dumbed down chinese food for my wife, my adventurous eating kids and myself. I recognize that purists and sinophiles howl when I say this. That's fine, don't respond. There must be someone out there who has lived in the US, has eaten the kind of good, fresh, tasty chinese food I'm talking about and can direct me.

2. Egg rolls. This is perhaps just a symptom of issue 1 above but it has been the single most disappointing issue related to my move back to my beloved Toronto (along with no US commercials during the superbowl). What the HELL is going on with eggrolls here?! Almost all I can find are these folded envelopes half filled with watery sprouts that taste like nothing. Again, I've had great spring rolls but an eggroll is nowhere to be found. To me, an eggroll has been full of fresh finely shredded crispy cabbage and carrot with shredded pork and/or shrimp and gently seasoned. These are rolled (a la a burrito) and deep fried in appropriately hot (and clean) oil so the outside is cripsy and the filling is almost bursting at the seams, warmed through but never mushy. With a little hot mustard or plum sauce (it's called duck sauce in the US and is a bit less sweet) this is something I would dream about.

I have actually started asking US chinese food restaurant owners when I eat there if they would consider opening a joint partnership resto here in Toronto. I just can't imagine that tastes would vary so differently. Anyway, anyhelp is much appreciated. Anyone who can save me monthly trips to the US will be rewarded with a dozen delicious egg-rolls!

Thanks.

  1. s
    souledge Mar 7, 2012 01:50 PM

    Your first mistake was thinking that the Chinese food you had could be found anywhere.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_...

    That is what you're used to. Toronto doesn't really have any of that.

    What you like is a specific sub-type of Westernized Chinese food, let alone Chinese food as a whole. Toronto caters primarily to authentic Cantonese food, followed by authentic food from the regions in mainland China, the followed by some degree with authentic food derived from Overseas Chinese cuisines (e.g. West Indian

    )

    Toronto really doesn't do American Chinese at all. Your best bet is probably Buffalo.

    1. s
      Shadow121 Aug 17, 2011 06:21 PM

      Try Choice of the Orient. They are old school Canadian-Chinese. Been there for years.
      Here's a link to their Menu.
      http://maps.google.ca/maps/place?um=1...

      -----
      Choice of the Orient Chinese Restaurant
      9555 Yonge St, Richmond Hill, ON L4C9M5, CA

      1 Reply
      1. re: Shadow121
        w
        wano Sep 10, 2011 05:18 PM

        Samehhanna - Costco sells a frozen egg roll made in California and I think it really fits the bill for you (cabbage, pork, egg roll wrapper and not the spring roll wrapper, etc).

      2. h
        helenhelen May 23, 2011 05:58 PM

        there is a place a bit west of queen and pape called "celine garden" you might want to try. i think the food is not very good since i think this type of cuisine is not good to begin with, but it's definitely the type of place you are looking for and i think it has been around a long time.

        2 Replies
        1. re: helenhelen
          p
          Pincus May 24, 2011 09:31 AM

          I had dinner there once. It was standard low-end Canadian-Chinese fare, but I was impressed that one of their specials of the day was perogis!

          1. re: Pincus
            s
            sandi123 Jun 2, 2011 09:20 AM

            One place that might fit the criteria is Bamboo Garden at Victoria Park just north of Eglington. They have been around for over 30 years and serve the Canadian version of Chinese food that you desire. I used to work in the area a few years ago and our office would order from there several times a week and the food was always good.

            http://www.bamboogardenfood.com/index....

        2. b
          Big Kahuna 1 Apr 12, 2011 09:12 AM

          Totally forgot two places I last ate in when my son was a baby (he's now 22). I don't know if they are still any good but maybe other CHers can comment. Both are located on Queen Street in The Beach. One is Honey Bee and the other is Garden Gate.

          -----
          Garden Gate
          2379 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E, CA

          1. l
            lmccurlie Apr 10, 2011 11:58 AM

            The best Chinese by far is Lee Garden on Spadina, norht of Dundas, real authentic Cantonese.... try the green beans or the chicken lettuce wraps, along with all the other traditional faves... perfectly yummy, every time.

            -----
            Lee Garden Restaurant
            331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

            5 Replies
            1. re: lmccurlie
              p
              piccola Apr 10, 2011 09:21 PM

              I'm pretty sure the OP is looking for less authentic Chinese, more Canadian-Chinese.

              1. re: piccola
                Teep Apr 10, 2011 09:53 PM

                Actually Lee Garden is sort of "Westernized authentic Chinese". The dishes are traditional but the execution is not quite authentic. You will notice most people lining up for it are not Chinese.

                1. re: Teep
                  p
                  piccola Apr 11, 2011 07:46 AM

                  Fair enough. I've never tried it. Was just going on what lmccurlie said, that it was "authentic Cantonese."

                  1. re: Teep
                    T Long Apr 11, 2011 08:58 AM

                    I think Lee Garden would be considered "authentic". There are degrees of anything but their fare is comparable in style to most on Spadina Ave and elsewhere where authenticity is not an issue. Surely the point that it's enjoyed by non-asians should not be an indicator. That the place is delicious and English friendly (waiters and menu) is the reason for the high percentage of non-Chinese patrons. I will point out that half the patrons are Chinese....

                    -----
                    Lee Garden Restaurant
                    331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                    1. re: T Long
                      Kagemusha Apr 11, 2011 10:00 AM

                      Curious how many incarnations this resto's been through. Ate there often years ago when it's signature Hakka dishes made its reputation. Went there about a year ago and didn't see any trace of the old menu. Meixian-speaking staff is apparently long gone, too.

                      But this is straying way away from the OP's original beef.

              2. b
                bhadauriababe Apr 7, 2011 03:23 PM

                Another repatriated Torontonian feels the same. So glad to know what I was noticing was not in my head... Food in Toronto is not what it used to be, especially Chinese food.... Sigh.

                Spring Rolls is a horrible, horrible restaurant. Ick!

                1 Reply
                1. re: bhadauriababe
                  Kagemusha Apr 8, 2011 08:14 AM

                  "Food in Toronto is not what it used to be, especially Chinese food..."

                  All to the good.

                2. m
                  myriam5555 Apr 6, 2011 08:22 PM

                  I had a very good Chinese-Canadian experience at a restaurant in London, ON that used to be a Burger King. Can anyone help? If I recall from University days, London has several very decent Chinese-Canadian selections.

                  1. b
                    Big Kahuna 1 Apr 5, 2011 10:15 AM

                    I am a Canadian born Chinese and my favourite Chinese food is "authentic" Cantonese. Having said that, there are times when only a big feed of North American "Chinese" food ( what we call Chop Suey) will do. The craving becomes unbearable ! As other posters have mentioned, small town Ontario may be the only recourse. Toronto area chop suey takeout restaurants have changed significantly since you were last here. The huge Chinese population has actually influenced Caucasian diners to eat more "authentic" cuisine. As a result, the chop suey restaurants have all added significantly more "authentic-leaning" dishes to their menus, most frequently in their "Chef's Recommendations" sections. The kind of food you mentioned is most familiar to me because I have many U.S. relatives, many of whom operated Chinese restaurants. I even worked in quite a few of them as a kid. You are absolutely right that the egg rolls were unsurpassed ! Big as footballs, like huge burritos, and stuffed with shredded cabbage (not bean sprouts), pork, and shrimp. Other staples were boneless spareribs, chicken fingers, Crab Rangoon, Woo Dip Har, blended dishes like Happy Family, Seafood Delight and Gai Poo Lo Mein. China House and Sea Hi are not what they were 30 years ago. I can't speak to House of Chan because I've only eaten the steaks and lobster there. To my mind, the epitome of quality chop suey food was always Lichee Garden. The ingredients were always fresh, with generous portions served in genteel surroundings by well-dressed waiters. Up until about a year ago or more, they were located in a strip plaza on Centre Street in Thornhill, after having been forever on Elizabeth Street in the old T.O. Chinatown, then the Atrium on Bay, then on Eglinton West near Avenue Road. Their website keeps saying that they will reopen on King Street downtown, but this has not happened and there appears to be no information. If any CHers know anything about this, please weigh in. Samehhanna, if Lichee Garden were to reopen, that would probably be the closest to what you want IN TORONTO. I'm afraid that until then, your search may have to be restricted to far outer suburbia or small towns.

                    -----
                    House of Chan
                    876 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C2B6, CA

                    Lichee Garden
                    1416 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J8A1, CA

                    1. k
                      KevH Apr 4, 2011 05:46 PM

                      I know most poster here won't recommend this, but if you are looking for Chinese-Canadian food, have you tried any of the chinese buffet restaurants? Their menu is more western-ized and definitely have the food you are looking for, but whether they are well-prepared/fresh, it will be dependent on the time and day of the week you visit the place.

                      I would recommend Mandarin @ Yonge and Eglinton, that is the only Madarin that I find have decent food.

                      If you were back about 2 years ago, I would recommend Pink Pearl on Avenue, unfortunuately, the owners has retired.

                      1. t
                        Tony8952 Apr 3, 2011 11:12 AM

                        One possible logical reason why tastes vary differently in Toronto compared to American cities: what you consider to be “the kind of good, fresh, tasty Chinese food” possibly just does not cut it with the relatively larger Chinese community in Toronto. Toronto has 540,000 Chinese (Vancouver 400,000), not including the GTA. American cities with the largest Chinese populations have relatively less Chinese and a history of relatively more assimilation and conformance: New York (360,000), San Francisco (150,000), Los Angeles (60,000), San Jose (50,000). I’ve eaten at Chinese restaurants in these and other American cities, not found one that measures up to the best in Toronto or Vancouver, which in turn are no comparison to eating in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Singapore. Thus more non-Chinese in Toronto have been exposed and educated to the style of Chinese food of restaurants here (Lai Wah Heen, Lai Toh Heen, Rol San, etc.). Good luck with your joint venture in trying to bring a US-style Westernized Chinese restaurant here. I think the market here has generally moved past that taste, though there are still some who who cling to tastes they know. If this market for westernized chinese food was sizeable, mre of such restaurants would have survived. Thus, you might instead be ahead of the curve opening up a Toronto-style Chinese restaurant in the larger US cities.

                        If you want to understand why things are what they are, go for a meal to Chiuchow Man Chinese Restaurant, (905) 803-8783, in Golden Square Plaza at 1177 Central Parkway West, Mississauga. Speak with its owner Sam during non-peak hours. If you call him beforehand and his restaurant is not busy (i.e., off peak hours), he might be able to custom make egg rolls and a family meal to your specifications. Tell him clearly that you want non-authentic, US/westernized style of Chinese food. If he can or can't do it, he'll tell you.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Tony8952
                          t
                          TexSquared Apr 3, 2011 03:19 PM

                          I guess what you're saying is, 20 years from now we'll hear people yearning for California/dragon/spider rolls or pad thai... just like how the OP is yearning for Americanized dishes that, in this market anyway, have been supplanted by more traditional/authentic fare.

                          1. re: TexSquared
                            t
                            Tony8952 Apr 4, 2011 09:28 AM

                            In 20 years we might hear people yearning for those good old-fashioned invented-in-America rolls IF there's a relatively huge increase in Japanese population and authentic Japanese restaurants in TO. At the moment there are too few "authentic" restaurants like Hashimoto, Kaji here. Pad Thai probably would not be endangered since it's a staple food in Thailand, though in future there could be too many regional versions to choose from. As for Americanized/Westernized Chinese fare in Toronto/Canada, perhaps one day a capable entrepreneur will acquire and merge a few of the best remaining restaurants and delivery chains to consolidate and refresh the concept so it will survive in the face of growing competition from traditional/authentic Chinese restaurants (many of which are so-so anyway).

                        2. The Chowhound Team Oct 13, 2010 09:24 AM

                          A discussion about whether egg rolls are authentically Chinese or not has been split to the General Chowhounding Topics board:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/740255

                          1. g
                            goldbed1886 Oct 4, 2010 01:31 PM

                            I hate to be really pedantic here, but it seems like the right sort of place. What exactly are you talking about when you say "US chinese food"? Just for clarity, could you walk us through a sample menu?

                            Having lived in Toronto, Hong Kong, Beijing, London, Singapore and New York for a while, I've tried a lot of different styles of Chinese food. I find Toronto has a wealth of chinese food that I can't really call authentic. There are a number of places where the ingredients are top notch, the cooking is skillful, but it is still somehow not quite like what I'd get in Hong Kong, Beijing or Singapore. Seems to me that Toronto has very much it's own chinese food, like I've heard Sydney has, which definitely has a lot of influence from the cantonese, and more so from north these days.

                            To polarize the question, we have sweet and sour chicken balls in batter, or a stir fried Hong Kong style sweet and sour pork. What end of the spectrum are we talking about?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: goldbed1886
                              m
                              MellyMelle Oct 8, 2010 11:04 PM

                              Think the OP's best bet, like many have suggested, will be small towns. Can even try Hamilton, they have quite a few Canadian Chinese restaurants there, maybe one will fill your niche.

                              goldbed brings up a very good point - different styles of Chinese food exist all over the world. Any type of "authentic" cuisine, when brought to a different region with different local ingredients and influences, is bound to morph into something entirely its own. Recently I visited Australia and Hong Kong, had Chinese food in both, and they were definitely different. Having grown up in Hong Kong, I went on an eating frenzy while there, as like the OP, I was chasing the "good old days" :)

                              Good luck with the hunt, and do consider the advice to seek out the great authentic spots (don't bother with downtown, go to Richmond Hill, Markham or Scarborough), you and your family may just be surprised.

                            2. p
                              Pincus Oct 4, 2010 01:00 PM

                              I totally forgot one place that should be mentioned here. The reason I remembered is that I was talking to a person this weekend that I'd mentioned it to.

                              Lee Town, 4907 Yonge Street, Toronto.

                              I've had two meals there and found the ingredients very fresh, and the flavours good. Again, I'm not a huge fan of egg rolls, so I can't say what theirs taste like.

                              -----
                              Lee Town Restaurant
                              4907 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N5N4, CA

                              1. p
                                piccola Sep 27, 2010 09:41 PM

                                My neighbourhood Chinese place is Regal Garden, at Bloor near Shaw. They're definitely on the Canadian Chinese end of the spectrum, at least for the main chunk of their menu -- and the egg rolls are crispy goodness.

                                -----
                                Regal Garden
                                815 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

                                1. e
                                  ellecue Sep 27, 2010 09:15 AM

                                  My dad, who's Chinese, has a few guidelines for picking Chinese restaurants.

                                  1) Pick ones with 'Seafood' in the name. He says seafood is harder to get right, so the quality of the cooking will be better.
                                  2) Check to see if the restaurant is crowded. For authentic food, see if it's crowded with Chinese people and noisy.
                                  -this doesn't always work. I've seen good restaurants empty (usually because of execrable service), and the line at the Manchu Wok at the university was chock full of Chinese students.

                                  I'd check out Vietnamese restaurants for your egg rolls. I find Viet rolls better than Chinese ones. Chinese egg rolls here (TBH the only place I've seen egg rolls, I never saw them in Asia) usually don't have meat in them; there's a nice place in West Chinatown that does, but I can't remember the name. Also check out Asian supermarkets; sometimes they have prewrapped frozen ones that you fry yourself, and if the ingredients are on them you can see if it has what you want.

                                  One place I like is Ginger and Onion at the Pacific Mall (especially for dim sum), but I haven't been looking out for the same things you have.

                                  1. p
                                    Pincus Sep 22, 2010 07:29 AM

                                    The egg roll the OP describes does sound quite good. I have only ever had the "stuffed full of bean sprouts" variety. Which I would zip up by shaking in black pepper with each bite. But I would rather have one of the OP's egg rolls.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Pincus
                                      n
                                      ninja5ca Sep 26, 2010 02:09 PM

                                      I have tried quite a few places in mississauga and brampton and haven't found the type of food and egg rolls the OP is looking for.
                                      I grew up in a small town outside of windsor and the type of chinese food the OP describes is what we had.
                                      When I go home to visit family,there are 3 restaurants at home they get food from.
                                      All 3 have basically the same food and taste.
                                      The egg rolls are not what they used to be though.
                                      The very best we ever had was when I was a teenager(30 yrs ago).
                                      There was a chinese restaurant at home which only had 1 employee.It was her uncles place.
                                      She took orders on the phone,was hostess,waitress,bus person,dishwasher,cook,cashier and
                                      made everything from scratch herself.She was also pregnant.
                                      Unfortunately her uncle and aunt took over and the food was not the same.The food was ok,not
                                      like his nieces at all.You could tell everything wasn't home made anymore.
                                      I like both authentic style and canadian style chinese food so I don't have a problem finding a place to eat.
                                      I agree with other posters,you will have to go outside of the GTA to find what you want.
                                      If you ever go to kingsville(about 350km from here) go to the jade palace or mei mei inn.
                                      Leamington also has a few places(also same distance).
                                      Windsor has a few places as well(also same distance).
                                      I thankyou for the trip down memory lane.

                                      ninja5ca

                                    2. f
                                      fatman0000 Sep 21, 2010 09:43 PM

                                      Most restaurants today do not make there own egg rolls. They buy them from places that mass produce them. Chicken balls and a lot of things are bought in because thery are cheaper and easy. Food courts are good but you probably woun't find egg rolls.

                                      1. Royaljelly Sep 21, 2010 07:43 PM

                                        This is a suggestion to the OP about egg roll choices - the best egg rolls I have tried over the last 10 years in TO from all the Asian restos are mostly from authentic Vietnamese or Thai places. They are smaller and the filling is slightly more starchy (but not gooey by any means), often perfectly crunchy and not greasy. Though the dip is totally different (fish sauce with lime or lemon) I find it satisfies my craving for spring rolls 100%. Something to try when you are having a decent Pho or Pad Thai next time.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Royaljelly
                                          T Long Sep 21, 2010 08:28 PM

                                          Hi Royaljelly: Just speaking for myself, I don't mind a good spring roll, but they just don't replace the craving for an excellent egg roll. I find the two are distinctly different. I will often get an egg roll, even if I know its really not that good (eg from the Mandarin), just to partially recapture the succulence that I remember. The last good one may well have been from that Ottawa source (restaurant on Carling Ave) often quoted on Chowhound over 25 years ago. And its not just the egg roll itself, but also the plum sauce that accompanies any order. The packaged "Wing-Wing" sauce so common now, doesn't have the zing or depth of taste that I recall.

                                        2. s
                                          samehhanna Sep 21, 2010 07:17 PM

                                          Thanks to all. No huffiness or incendiaries intended. I have started and will continue to visit all the places mentioned to see if they fulfill MY wishes.

                                          1. mrsleny Sep 21, 2010 04:17 PM

                                            You might try Golden Hoy in Richmond Hill. They have been around for a long time and considered by many to be "Canadian Chinese". I get delivery from them because they do have a few things that are fairly authentic (at least to me).

                                            http://www.goldenhoy.com/

                                            1. LovelyAsia Sep 21, 2010 10:33 AM

                                              Based on what you have described I think that Chan's on Bathurst would be the closest thing Toronto has to offer, I can't reccomend Sea Hi because I really don't like the food there, and while Chan's is not a regular go to place for me, I at least feel confident suggesting it, and I believe they have the egg rolls you are looking for, and Chop Suey is actually listed on their menu.

                                              http://www.houseofchan.ca

                                              As for a place I can heartily endorse - my family's go to place for literally decades, is Yen Ching Palace Restaurant in Bayview Village. They have the best chicken balls ever - thin crispy breading with big chunks of white meat chicken inside. They don't have eggs rolls but they do have decent spring rolls and great pot stickers called "Peking Ravioli". They don't have Chop Suey, but they do have a mixed vegetable dish that reminds me of “old school Chop Suey”. The must have dishes there for me are: Crispy Shrimp (pop corn shrimp in a sweet and sour garlic sauce), Crispy Beef (tender beef, breaded and coated in a rich, dark, spicy sweet sauce), Moo Shu Pork, and Yusiang Pork (tender pork stir fried with water chestnuts and other Chinese veggies in a rich, garlicky, spicy sauce that is so tasty.

                                              The most important thing to me about Yen Ching is that the place has been in business for decades and the quality has remained. The food is always prepared fresh and in that area, it is a go to place for many families, hence the big tables at the back of such a small restaurant. It is a rare place that has as many Chinese patrons as non Chinese… most places in Toronto seem to appeal to one or the other.

                                              I know a lot of posters on here are offended by your calling Chop Suey and such “good Chinese food”, but growing up in Toronto in the 60’s and 70’s when there were not a lot of choices for Chinese Food like there are today, I can totally relate to your nostalgia for what I call “Old School Chinese Food”. Anyone from China or Hong Kong would be horrified, but often what you grow up with is what you want to go back to.

                                              As for really good egg rolls, other than driving to the place in Ottawa so many posters talk about, I suggest you try making them yourself… that is what I do! Egg roll wrappers can be found in any grocery store, not just Chinese stores, and for the filling, well I stuff them with lightly stir fried shrimp and a tiny bit of veggies, or ground pork with cabbage, onions, carrots, and even a few bean sprouts – because that is the way I like them!

                                              Good luck!

                                              -----
                                              Yen Ching Palace Restaurant
                                              2901 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M2K1E6, CA

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: LovelyAsia
                                                e
                                                erly Sep 21, 2010 02:42 PM

                                                LovelyAsia,
                                                You are one of a few on this Topic who actually comprehends what the poster was requesting.
                                                Chop Suey is not North American, and I don't know the origin.
                                                Have not even thought about it in years, but had some perfect Chop Suey in Dijon a couple of nights ago.
                                                When I think of Canadian Chinese I don't think Mall food,but rather Lichee Gardens and New Nanking.

                                                -----
                                                Lichee Garden
                                                1416 Centre St, Thornhill, ON L4J8A1, CA

                                                1. re: LovelyAsia
                                                  e
                                                  evansl Sep 26, 2010 05:58 AM

                                                  I find Yen Ching Palace quite poor and a place to be avoided. The food is very bland and quite expensive for what you get. In fact, #7 on any list of "Rules of Life" should be: "Never eat in a restaurant at Bayview Village."

                                                  -----
                                                  Yen Ching Palace Restaurant
                                                  2901 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M2K1E6, CA

                                                  1. re: evansl
                                                    Full tummy Sep 26, 2010 07:08 AM

                                                    I have to say that I found the chicken balls to be superior to any others I've had in Toronto. The breading was light and the meat plentiful; the sauce had pineapple and hot chillis in it, although its base was the traditional fluorescent sauce served with that dish. Overall, the food I had there compared favourably to the food served at competing options.

                                                    What would you recommend instead, for this type of food?

                                                2. Crispier Crouton Sep 21, 2010 10:11 AM

                                                  Maybe you can find what you're looking for at one of Toronto's Hakka restaurants. A lot of them seem to serve some kind of westernized Chinese food. Danforth Dragon, for example. Perhaps others on here can offer some suggestions.

                                                  -----
                                                  Danforth Dragon
                                                  861 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4J, CA

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Crispier Crouton
                                                    p
                                                    Pincus Sep 21, 2010 10:31 AM

                                                    Yeah, I have a takeout menu from Lin Garden, and they have a bunch of familiar names on it in terms of Chinese-Canadian cuisine. I have yet to get a meal from them, though.

                                                    -----
                                                    Lin Garden
                                                    1806 Pharmacy Ave, Toronto, ON M1T1H6, CA

                                                  2. Breadcrumbs Sep 21, 2010 07:05 AM

                                                    I'll join the Szechuan Szechuan camp w a few notes. In my view and experience, the First Canadian Place ("FCP") location produces superior food to the Vaughan Mills spot. We've been dining there for over 10 years now.

                                                    FYI, you can only get egg rolls at the Vaughan Mills location and I wouldn't recommend them. The filling had the right ingredients but they were too greasy on the two occasions we had them.

                                                    Their website has menus for both locations. They make Chinese and a limited number of Thai dishes.

                                                    SS in FCP has spring rolls but they too can be hit & miss. All their food is better enjoyed in the restaurant.

                                                    I also find that they are always wiling to accommodate special requests....add meat to a dish, no celery etc.

                                                    Some of our favourite dishes:

                                                    General Tso Prawn
                                                    Prawn in hot ginger sauce
                                                    Steamed dumplings
                                                    Chicken in hot peanut sauce
                                                    Chili Chicken
                                                    Ma Po Dofu
                                                    Szechuan Veggies
                                                    House noodle

                                                    Let us know what you think.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs
                                                      j
                                                      jamesm Sep 21, 2010 08:58 AM

                                                      There's a place in Parkdale on Queen across from Callender street called Yummy Food that is old school Canadian-Chinese food -- can't vouch for the quality. I've only eaten it when I was drunk. Tasted pretty good then though.

                                                      1. re: jamesm
                                                        ingloriouseater Sep 21, 2010 10:26 AM

                                                        I can attest to the old schoolness of Yummy and it is best when served after many pints at Mitizi's Sister, for a higher quality old school mandarin-canadian experience Wok Terminal delivers to parkdale

                                                        1. re: ingloriouseater
                                                          j
                                                          jamesm Sep 21, 2010 10:33 AM

                                                          That's good to know, thanks for the tip. Sometimes I get a nostlagic craving for the Canadian-Chinese food my parents would take us out for in Bowmanville. Fortune cookies, red sauce, chicken balls, egg foo young, paper placemats with photos of cocktails that they didn't even serve.

                                                        2. re: jamesm
                                                          Davedigger Apr 3, 2011 02:10 PM

                                                          Totally agree on this one. It's fabulous old-school Canadian-Chinese goodness! Although the eggrolls are made with bean sprouts, which I prefer.

                                                      2. p
                                                        plasticanimal Sep 16, 2010 09:54 PM

                                                        While I have not had their egg rolls, I would like to vote for Oriental Taste (329 Queen St. E). Fresh, delicious, and inexpensive. It's my favourite.

                                                        -----
                                                        Oriental Taste Restaurant
                                                        329 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5A1S9, CA

                                                        1. z
                                                          ziggystardust Sep 16, 2010 08:22 PM

                                                          Welcome back home. It's a shame that you got one pc poster all huffy but that's Toronto. As someone who appreciates authentic Chinese and Canadian Chinese perhaps I can help. The best of the latter that I've found in Toronto is Peking Express (google it, I'm not computer savvy enough to hyperlink it or whatever it's called)

                                                          -----
                                                          Peking Express
                                                          217 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

                                                          14 Replies
                                                          1. re: ziggystardust
                                                            aser Sep 20, 2010 12:29 AM

                                                            It's not about being pc, it's about the OP labelling chop suey as "fresh, tasty, Chinese food".

                                                            It simply is not. It's a bastardization of Chinese food designed for white people. Chinese people do not eat this stuff.

                                                            There is nothing wrong with him liking it. But to question why all these Chinese people are here in Toronto and there is no good Chinese food? That is insulting, dismissive, and ignorant.

                                                            "westernized but not dumbed down chinese food"

                                                            that is an oxymoron if I ever saw one....

                                                            If he just asked for chop suey, there wouldn't be this mess of a thread.

                                                            1. re: aser
                                                              z
                                                              ziggystardust Sep 20, 2010 04:59 AM

                                                              Kind of reminds me of some of the garbage that was passed off as "western" food I saw when I lived in Taiwan. Eclairs with hot dogs baked in them, pizza with corn and peas on it and squid Cheetos among other things. It was, to paraphrase you " a bastardization of Western food designed for yellow people." I'm being facetious but I'm sure the op meant no harm, let's leave the pc crap for The Star ok?

                                                              1. re: ziggystardust
                                                                aser Sep 20, 2010 08:14 AM

                                                                100% correct, there're plenty of western food in asia bastaradized for yellow people. I have no problems with you in saying that at all. Asians will be the first to tell you about things like cha chaan teeng, kewpie, matcha kitkat, Swiss chicken wings....

                                                                The difference is we don't expect to find it in a city with a lot of white people.

                                                                1. re: aser
                                                                  Kagemusha Sep 20, 2010 08:35 AM

                                                                  Amen. What's "PC" about a little tutorial in TO's demograhic shifts over the last 20 years for someone who plainly pines for the status quo ante? That's the sort of "help" the OP needed. And yes, there's apparently more to their complaint than Proustian longing for an egg roll.

                                                                  1. re: Kagemusha
                                                                    s
                                                                    samehhanna Sep 20, 2010 06:57 PM

                                                                    Interesting. Being the OP, I would like first to thank those that have made helpful recommendations. Further, I would like to address some of the more recent responses that do seem a little reactionary to me.

                                                                    My issue is that every restaurant that called itself "Chinese" that I went to in Hershey, PA, Buffalo, NY, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, BAltimore, MD, Washington, DC, Lancaster, PA, New York City, Naples, FL, and half a dozen other cities of various size in the US had food I enjoyed. There were specific taste profiles, levels of freshness and preparation techniques that were quite consistent and pleasing though stylistic differences were, of course, also seen. I did have some experiences in some restaurants with food that I did not like the taste of or seemed poorly made.

                                                                    When I moved back to Toronto, I found innumerable restaurants calling themselves both Chinese or Chinese-Canadian. I have not enjoyed most of them. I fully concede that it is possible that whatever authentic chinese food is involves flavours and ingredients which I don't care for or are beyond my culinary sphere. However, I take issue with responses that suggest that it is somehow offensive of me merely to point this out and here's why:

                                                                    a) Whether in the US or here in Canada, it was not I that opened a restaurant and called it "Chinese" or (Chinese-Canadian, if you please), it was the asian proprieters, restauranteurs and cooks.

                                                                    b) For whatever reason, what I have eaten for twenty years in at least as many small neighbourhood or bigger city chinese restaurants where I lived and visited in various parts of the US tasted good to me.

                                                                    c) Those same types of restaurants here in Toronto have tasted less good and seemed less fresh tome.

                                                                    Now, neither a), b) or c) dictates what any other person on this site or, indeed, anywhere, needs to feel about chinese food, needs to eat or needs to call what they eat.

                                                                    However, I miss that flavour and quality of chinese food I have. So does my wife and so do my kids. It may be here somewhere but I haven't found it yet. I have begun to follow up on the many helpful recommendations made here and am excited to try several new places. To date, however, whether the signs on the doors (put there by the individuals that opened the restaurants, not me) have said chinese or chinese-canadian, I haven't been bowled over and was merely looking for some direction.

                                                                    If there is a fresh, tasty, well-prepared "Chop-Suey" place out there, I'd love to hear about it. Not because it's the height of authenticity showcasing the best of a culture's culinary fireworks but because I and my family might enjoy it. Whether some of you that have responded think what I'm looking for is oxymoronic or not, I've been eating it, live and in colour (and without the huffy attitude) along with food of many other styles, cultures and levels of sophistication for many years.

                                                                    1. re: samehhanna
                                                                      w
                                                                      William Taft Sep 20, 2010 07:53 PM

                                                                      I doubt that you will find what you are looking for in Toronto. Canadian-Chinese food in Toronto is really, really terrible in my experience, but outside of Toronto it can be pretty good. I think that people here tend to be overly disdainful of Canadian-Chinese because it is so bad in Toronto (Ho Lee Chow, etc.). Chicken balls can be good, but I've yet to have one in Toronto that wasn't utterly foul. Same with egg rolls.

                                                                      I've had a fair bit of Chinese food in upstate New York and Pennsylvania ("sesame chicken" etc.) and it was not very good at all. I think that you will find that "Canadian-Chinese" is much, much better than "American-Chinese". You just won't find it in Toronto.

                                                                      1. re: samehhanna
                                                                        aser Sep 20, 2010 09:25 PM

                                                                        Chinese restaurateurs in Toronto find it more profitable to cater to Chinese clientele than you. Hate to break it to you....

                                                                        I think you're the one that got the ball rolling with the "huffy" attitude by declaring there to be no good Chinese food in a city with one of the biggest Chinese populations in N. America.

                                                                        Imagine me going to LA and telling Mexicans there's no good Mexican food there. Won't go over too well will it?

                                                                        Chinese people aren't just trying to outdo Andrew Zimmerman by eating the gnarliest stuff out there. Authentic doesn't mean eating bear gall bladder. You threw in some pretty incendiary comments in your original post.

                                                                        Again, none of us have any problems with you liking American/Canadian Chinese food. It's the way you presented yourself.

                                                                        Finally again, the best advice is to seek out Chinese restaurants in small towns neighbouring Toronto. The market for your cuisine is dying, quite literally, the customers are dying of old age. Young people have a different interpretation of Canadian/American Chinese food a la "Spring Rolls" (the restaurant).

                                                                        1. re: aser
                                                                          T Long Sep 21, 2010 06:34 AM

                                                                          I did not realize that Spring Rolls was Canadian Chinese...must be my old age.

                                                                          1. re: T Long
                                                                            p
                                                                            Pincus Sep 21, 2010 08:53 AM

                                                                            I don't think Spring Rolls is Canadian-Chinese specifically either. They are pan-Asian, certainly.

                                                                            1. re: T Long
                                                                              aser Sep 21, 2010 09:11 AM

                                                                              No meaning it's the new generation's replacement for Canadian Chinese.

                                                                            2. re: aser
                                                                              j
                                                                              julesrules Sep 21, 2010 06:39 AM

                                                                              I think you are right. The martket is dying and so are the propietors. And the younger generation are looking for a more Pan-Asian approach.
                                                                              However, the OP also has a point. Whatever you think of the "cuisine", the quality at places like Spring Rolls, and at many of the smaller family-owned places around town, often serving "Thai" food these days, is not good. Soup broth is dishwater, veggies are dominated by bell peppers and onions, deep fryer oil not fresh, etc. No one is claiming Spring Rolls is authentic anything but they could do a fresher, better version of what they are doing - like when they first opened.

                                                                            3. re: samehhanna
                                                                              T Long Sep 21, 2010 06:30 AM

                                                                              Samehhanna: Hopefully you will not be too discouraged by some of the negative reaction to your posts. I for one am interested to hear if you ever find a place that meets your criteria as I can relate well to your viewpoint abeit from an older (hopefully I will not die too soon) fella that has lived mainly in Ontario in his waning years.

                                                                      2. re: aser
                                                                        e
                                                                        erly Sep 20, 2010 07:12 AM

                                                                        I there an authentic Chinese dish using Beansprouts?
                                                                        I like Chow Suey properly prepared with fresh Beansprouts, slivered Veggies, and minimal Cornstarch.

                                                                        1. re: erly
                                                                          b
                                                                          Big Kahuna 1 Apr 8, 2011 10:01 AM

                                                                          It is very common to serve the duck meat course of a Peking Duck dinner with bean sprouts.

                                                                    2. foodyDudey Sep 16, 2010 12:46 PM

                                                                      You are not looking for Chinese food, I don't think any Chinese eat what you are searching for.
                                                                      If people in Toronto still wanted to eat that food, Ginsberg and Wong and Ho Lee Chow would still be thriving. As another poster mentioned, you can still find this food in out of the way small towns. There is one such place a few km's NE of Mosport racetrack.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: foodyDudey
                                                                        chefhound Sep 19, 2010 11:36 PM

                                                                        That's what I was saying in my earlier post. It's not Chinese food. It's Chinese-Canadian food. Chinese people don't eat that stuff. Nothing against eggrolls and chicken balls (my aunt and uncle made an excellent living making them for the good people of Port Perry), but it's not Chinese food. It's illogical to associate the large Chinese community in Toronto with better quality and availability of eggrolls.

                                                                        Anyway, it's too bad my aunt and uncle have retired - I would have recommended their eggrolls!

                                                                      2. s
                                                                        SocksManly Sep 16, 2010 12:31 PM

                                                                        All this talk of authentic vs 80's takeout has me wondering.. Has the OP tried all the wonderful authentic places?

                                                                        Also could you perhaps order a box of frozen eggrolls while in the USA to bring home? Maybe to get the flavour you're after they'd need to be freshly made.. I dunno. But that might be your best bet to salvation.

                                                                        I understand, I do miss an oldschool eggroll and those sticky sweet honey garlic spareribs.. But I'm also happy about the whole steamed fish and live shrimp from Maple Yip's.I wouldn't want to trade Toronto's chinese restaurants for a bunch of american takeout places that's for sure. Nothing against the OP's post, I agree, however enough can't be said about how Toronto and its Chinese food.

                                                                        1. c
                                                                          Chocolatemama Sep 16, 2010 06:52 AM

                                                                          My parents owned a Canadian Chinese take-out place in Ottawa for over 20 years and when they closed, I sometimes craved for egg rolls, honey garlic ribs or some sweet and sour chicken balls! So I understand this desire for this kind of food. But just as there are good and bad Canadian Chinese restaurants, there are also good and bad authentic Chinese resataurants. You should give the authentic ones a try; you might be surprised! Us second-generationers order dishes which you may enjoy. If you order stir fry meat and veg dishes, Cantonese-style sweet and sour pork, maybe some noodle dishes, you might find something interesting. I haven`t been before, but Peking Man on Sheppard seems to have an interesting menu where they combine both these `cuisines`. You can order anything from chicken balls to Peking Duck. Although this could be a good or a bad thing also...

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Peking Man Restaurant
                                                                          1108 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2K2V9, CA

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Chocolatemama
                                                                            e
                                                                            erly Sep 16, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                                            Pekingman is the worst.
                                                                            I really don't like to put a Restaurant down, but it was not good.
                                                                            Everything had too much Sauce, and they all tasted like a variation of each other.
                                                                            We ate little.
                                                                            To be fair we did not order the Peking Duck.
                                                                            By the way, growing up in Toronto the main ingredient of Egg rolls was Beansprouts, not Cabbage.
                                                                            I first encountered Cabbage filling in the U.S.
                                                                            I want Lichee Gardens Egg Rolls!
                                                                            Since you didn't like China House, I second the suggestion to try Lee Garden.
                                                                            China House was a one of trip down memory lane, but we still go to Lee Garden every once in a while.
                                                                            A little more adventurous, try New Sky down the Street.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            New Sky
                                                                            Toronto, Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                            Lee Garden Restaurant
                                                                            331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                                                                            1. re: erly
                                                                              T Long Sep 16, 2010 08:46 AM

                                                                              I like both Lee Garden and New Sky, but would not categorize them as "Canadian-Chinese", which is the OP's request. Egg Rolls using beansprouts was my experience also.

                                                                              1. re: T Long
                                                                                d
                                                                                dibpal Sep 16, 2010 12:00 PM

                                                                                I'm not sure - the OP requested Chinese food that is "homey, westernized but not dumbed down." I'd say Lee Garden fits that bill (or at least a number of things on their menu). Their food is accessible and approachable, but also high quality and fresh.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Lee Garden Restaurant
                                                                                331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                                                                              2. re: erly
                                                                                e
                                                                                evansl Sep 26, 2010 06:05 AM

                                                                                I find Peking Man to have some excellent dishes. How many times have you eaten there. I've had maybe 15- 20 meals there over the years. Not everything is great, but now that I know what to order, I can get excellent food.

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Peking Man Restaurant
                                                                                1108 Sheppard Ave E, Toronto, ON M2K2V9, CA

                                                                                1. re: evansl
                                                                                  Full tummy Sep 26, 2010 07:03 AM

                                                                                  Which dishes do you recommend? Maybe the rest of us won't have to have 15-20 meals to figure it out... Thanks.

                                                                            2. o
                                                                              oishi girl Sep 16, 2010 06:20 AM

                                                                              If you are looking for a really good egg roll, the frozen no name president's choice, egg roll with beef if actually very good!

                                                                              I grew up in a Cdn Chinese restaurant. My family made thousands of these treats, so I know egg rolls! I make these at home and they are very tasty. If you've got a real hankering, these will do.

                                                                              BTW, I do think you will need to go to small towns to find your fix. Hit up Port Perry, Lindsay etc...

                                                                              1. ingloriouseater Sep 16, 2010 04:17 AM

                                                                                My go to Szechuan and Mandarin resto is Wok Terminal in Etobicoke...Mu Shu Pork is great, I haven't had an egg roll in years so I can't say how theirs is...but the rest fits the memory bill for 80's requirement I sometimes crave

                                                                                1. s
                                                                                  Sarah Cat Sep 15, 2010 04:50 PM

                                                                                  I bet small towns in Ontario would have what you're looking for. For some reason, Chinese restaurants are in every single village or small town in this province, and they are often tasty — and usually far from authentic. Sometimes the Chinese restaurants are the only reliable eateries around. I grew up in a village outside of Ottawa, and the Chinese food was great! I remember the exact egg rolls you describe. This board isn't as great for small-town Ontario food, but maybe you could extend your hunt outside of the GTA? Might be fun driving in the country, admiring the leaves, breathing the crisp fall air, and finding the best egg rolls this province has to offer!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Sarah Cat
                                                                                    s
                                                                                    samehhanna Sep 15, 2010 08:16 PM

                                                                                    Thanks, Sarah Cat. We'll add a small town prowl to our list.

                                                                                    1. re: samehhanna
                                                                                      j
                                                                                      julesrules Sep 16, 2010 09:45 AM

                                                                                      A lot of these small town places (and new family businesses in Toronto)have taken to serving "Thai" food and changed their old 50s signs etc... I recently saw one that was hedging their bets by serving Thai AND Japanese... could two Asian cuisines be more dissimilar?

                                                                                    2. re: Sarah Cat
                                                                                      s
                                                                                      stw Sep 17, 2010 11:40 AM

                                                                                      I worked with someone whose family once ran a Chinese restaurant in a small northern Ontario town, that type that served egg rolls and chicken balls as well as burgers and fries. He told me that his father occasionally tried to introduce authentic dishes that he enjoyed, but invariably found that they went over like a lead balloon.

                                                                                    3. s
                                                                                      samehhanna Sep 15, 2010 04:27 PM

                                                                                      Thank you all (well, most of you!)

                                                                                      Looks like the short list is Szechuan Szechuan, Spadina Garden, Szechuan Gourmet, C'est Bon and Sea-Hi. I have actually been to Szechuan, Szechuan (in Vaughan) and agree that it is close to what we were looking for but regardless quite good. I remember going to China House as a kid and enjoying it. We went recently and were really disappointed. Flavour was lacking, food was homogeneously soft. We may have caught them on a bad night. As an aside, their eggrolls looked like they might fit the bill but we bit into one and a half-formed tube-like roll of meat/veg mash fell out of the remaining soft/oily wrapper. Yuk.

                                                                                      A few words about the "Mall Chinese food" comments: I get the (predictable) knee-jerk disdain. The reason I initially posted was that the food I'm looking for is clearly not "authentic Chinese" i.e. I wouldn't expect to find it if I went to China. However, whatever we want to call it, it is a good, fresh, complex and predictable style of cooking that we have enjoyed as much as any other style of cuisine we've eaten anywhere in the world. Frankly, to reject food en face because of its source smacks of elitism to me. HoLee Chow for all their obvious flaws has never overcooked my LoMein (despite its paucity of significant flavour) while most of the other "authentic" places I've been to have. This may be one of those "regional taste" issues. Maybe al dente (or anyway "less than mush") is not part of the Chinese food aesthetic but it is for me. I'll keep looking

                                                                                      Perhaps the poster that suggested that the significant size of the Asian community was a detriment rather than a benefit was onto something.

                                                                                      BTW, I have repeatedly seen that Ottawa's Golden Palace may have what I'm looking for, egg-roll wise. 4 hours each way is a bit of a trek but sometimes I do feel desperate enough. . .

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      C'est Bon
                                                                                      2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

                                                                                      Spadina Garden
                                                                                      116 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                                      Szechuan Gourmet Restaurant
                                                                                      1033 Steeles Ave W, Toronto, ON M2R2S9, CA

                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: samehhanna
                                                                                        Kagemusha Sep 16, 2010 05:16 AM

                                                                                        "A few words about the "Mall Chinese food" comments: I get the (predictable) knee-jerk disdain. The reason I initially posted was that the food I'm looking for is clearly not "authentic Chinese" i.e. I wouldn't expect to find it if I went to China."

                                                                                        What's plainly baffling/upsetting you is that "China" came to TO. That's a good thing.

                                                                                        "Perhaps the poster that suggested that the significant size of the Asian community was a detriment rather than a benefit was onto something."

                                                                                        That's a VERY provocative statement to endorse. By all means, do check out the Chinese food choices in Collingwood, Owen Sound and Guelph ASAP.

                                                                                        1. re: Kagemusha
                                                                                          T Long Sep 16, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                                                          I think you are taking offence where none was intended. Nothing provocative was stated, just a point of view regarding food which you disagree with. He likes good Canadian-Chinese food, you clearly don't. Period. This board is all about different opinions on food...no need to go to other areas.

                                                                                          1. re: T Long
                                                                                            Kagemusha Sep 16, 2010 06:42 AM

                                                                                            "Perhaps the poster that suggested that the significant size of the Asian community was a detriment rather than a benefit was onto something."

                                                                                            That's not about food and neither is my criticism.

                                                                                            1. re: Kagemusha
                                                                                              T Long Sep 16, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                                                              I guess we all read what we want to read...In the context the OP's statement was made, it was about food, imo. If I did not believe this, I too would be all over him.

                                                                                              1. re: T Long
                                                                                                m
                                                                                                millygirl Sep 16, 2010 07:40 AM

                                                                                                Points taken on both sides. Seems more and more we tend to get off topic and on to these trivial one on one debates. Can we please get back to the OP's query with a focus on providing some recommendations or suggestions.

                                                                                              2. re: Kagemusha
                                                                                                Crispier Crouton Sep 16, 2010 09:53 AM

                                                                                                I interpreted that as, "Perhaps the poster that suggested that the significant size of the Asian community was a detriment (to the availability of quality Canadian-Chinese food) rather than a benefit was onto something."

                                                                                                1. re: Crispier Crouton
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  samehhanna Sep 17, 2010 03:19 AM

                                                                                                  OF COURSE I meant that perhaps it is true the large and vibrant Asian community was a determent to my own search for the type of westernized Chinese food I'm discussing here, not a deteriment in any other way. Geez.

                                                                                          2. re: samehhanna
                                                                                            Wiley Sep 16, 2010 06:53 AM

                                                                                            I would definitely go to the food court at First Markham Place(Woodbine and #7)and prowl around checking out the offerings--the longest lines seem to be at H.K.S. BBQ and Noodle house,but not sure if it's due to the prices ($3.99 for Duck on noodles, e.g.)or the taste--might be both.

                                                                                            1. re: Wiley
                                                                                              T Long Sep 16, 2010 09:05 AM

                                                                                              First Markham Place has a lot of gems, but I've yet to discover any "Canadian-Chinese" food outlet, let alone a really good one. Am I missing something?

                                                                                              1. re: T Long
                                                                                                Royaljelly Sep 16, 2010 10:08 PM

                                                                                                Agree w/ T Long, definitely stay away from the mainly chinese food courts. You won't find the stuff you want there.

                                                                                                I'm surprised no one has mentioned O'Mei on Hwy 7. Most hardcore Chinese food lovers go there for the seafood (esp Lobster served 4 ways). But if you order from their English only menu, you'll get Westernized Chinese food. I've never ordered it myself, but what I saw on an adjacent table was the glowing yellow lemon chicken and other dishes that the OP might be looking for (possibly egg rolls too?). Plus the setting is calm and clean (albeit a bit dated), service is attentive and they use quality ingredients (based on the Chinese menu dishes I have there every so often).

                                                                                            2. re: samehhanna
                                                                                              b
                                                                                              bringonthelbs Sep 17, 2010 02:35 PM

                                                                                              Ottawa's Golden Palace has exactly what you are looking for in an egg roll. I used to eat there at least once a week, dining on egg rolls alone. Perfectly crispy, real crumbled pork, a meal unto itself. Now whenever I visit I have them cook the egg rolls halfway and bring them back to TO where I freeze them and can pop them in the oven. Not the same, but a hell of a lot better than anywhere else in TO.

                                                                                              1. re: samehhanna
                                                                                                Full tummy Sep 20, 2010 05:10 PM

                                                                                                To add to that list, I would give Yen Ching Palace at Bayview & Sheppard, in the Bayview Village Mall, a try. Last time I went, I really appreciated the chicken balls which were lightly breaded, not all breading like most places.

                                                                                                I have eaten at the Golden Palace, Ottawa, many times, and both Yen Ching and C'est Bon most closely remind me of my experiences there.

                                                                                                Can't address the egg roll issue directly, though.

                                                                                                http://www.restaurantica.com/on/north...

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                C'est Bon
                                                                                                2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

                                                                                                Yen Ching Palace Restaurant
                                                                                                2901 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M2K1E6, CA

                                                                                                1. re: Full tummy
                                                                                                  mrsleny Sep 21, 2010 04:04 PM

                                                                                                  Yen Ching's egg rolls are mostly bean sprouts.

                                                                                                2. re: samehhanna
                                                                                                  w
                                                                                                  wano Apr 3, 2011 06:50 AM

                                                                                                  My friend from Ottawa swears by Golden Palace and she is also desperate to find what you are searcing for now that she lives in TO. If you are ever in Montreal, you will have no problems finding the egg rolls - I grew up there and had many friends and family who owned Chinese Canadian restos.

                                                                                                  My retired Dad still makes them occasionally and brings them to TO when he visits along with the sauce that is made from scratch! While that is convenient it is not very timely when you have a craving so we freeze them and the sauce lasts forever given the amount of sugar and vinegar in it. So if you ever find them - just freeze them, pop in microwave for 1 minute, then pop in toaster oven for about 5 mins then you are golden! The cold sauce on the hot egg roll is really good too although you can warm up the sauce if you like.

                                                                                                  I am in the hunt for this for my friend so will keep you posted cause my Dad visits only about 4 times a year.

                                                                                                3. t
                                                                                                  Tatai Sep 15, 2010 12:34 PM

                                                                                                  I haven't been there in years, but I seem to remember House of Chan on Eglinton having the type of egg rolls you're looking for. (The best ever were at Ruby Foo's; second best, Pumpernick's, both in Montreal.)

                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                  House of Chan
                                                                                                  876 Eglinton Ave W, Toronto, ON M6C2B6, CA

                                                                                                  1. d
                                                                                                    dibpal Sep 15, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                                                                    I would try Lee Garden. They might not have exactly what you're looking for (for example, I don't think they have egg rolls on their menu) but they have high-quality food that appeals that's more in line with the approach you described. They do a great job with vegetables, and have lots of good meat and fish specials.

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Lee Garden Restaurant
                                                                                                    331 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E9, CA

                                                                                                    1. e
                                                                                                      erly Sep 15, 2010 10:57 AM

                                                                                                      A couple of weeks ago, we decided to go to China House for much the same reason "Nostalgia, although we are very happy with the more "Authentic" Chinese food available now.
                                                                                                      China House was indeed a step into the past.
                                                                                                      Long slightly sticky B.B. Q Ribs, or the Short Honey Garlic, not up to Lichee Gardens standard, but not bad , dried noodles on the table served with Duck Sauce, etc.
                                                                                                      Chop Suey on the Menu although we didn't order it.
                                                                                                      We really enjoyed the Meal.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: erly
                                                                                                        Kagemusha Sep 15, 2010 12:09 PM

                                                                                                        I guess if I wanted to do a Rat Pack Weekend again(make that never) this would be the place. But that decor! Somewhere in Hell--or a Tarantino movie--there must be places like this...

                                                                                                        http://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2010/...

                                                                                                      2. p
                                                                                                        Pincus Sep 15, 2010 10:29 AM

                                                                                                        Having been to both C'est Bon and Sea Hi, I would give the nod to C'est Bon, but either would do in a pinch. I can't speak to the egg roll question, but C'est Bon has very fresh ingredients, a bit fresher than Sea Hi offers. On the other hand, if you want the decor too, Sea Hi is the place to go.

                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                        C'est Bon
                                                                                                        2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Pincus
                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                          ComeUndone Sep 15, 2010 10:43 AM

                                                                                                          I know that House Of Chan is better known for their steaks. But the decor definitely strikes me as what you may be looking for? Can anyone comment on their other menu items?

                                                                                                        2. T Long Sep 15, 2010 10:05 AM

                                                                                                          Good quality Chinese food...and yes it is Chinese food you are speaking about that was very common in Toronto 30, but more likely 40 years ago has been pushed aside by the more "recent" wave of immigrants favoring foods styles more common first from Hong Kong and now Mainland China. The references here to food court Chinese is a bit of a put-down....the food you are referring to was much much better. Regarding places that may have some resemblance to "good" Canadian-Chinese food, I personally have not found one yet in Toronto in the last at least 25 years. I have not tried this place yet, but based on Chowhound reviews, I think your best bet might be C'est Bon near Yonge & Eglinton. (Apparently there are two locations, one North and the other South of Eglinton on Yonge.)

                                                                                                          -----
                                                                                                          C'est Bon
                                                                                                          2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

                                                                                                          1. s
                                                                                                            szw Sep 15, 2010 09:48 AM

                                                                                                            I'd have to jump on the Sea Hi recommendation. I haven't had it, but I know some family friends that drive about 4 hours once a month just to eat there!

                                                                                                            "We assumed as we were planning our return to Toronto that, given the sizeable Asian community, locating a good goto chinese restaurant would be no problem."

                                                                                                            - I think this logic is a bit flawed. WIth a large Chinese community like Toronto, authenticity rules because thats what they want to eat. If you want to find the food you describe, you are better off looking for smaller communities with very few Chinese people. In order to survive, they will have to cook what their customers want to eat.

                                                                                                            1. Crispier Crouton Sep 15, 2010 09:17 AM

                                                                                                              Yeah, I never touch the stuff either, but don't people always hail C'est Bon? Otherwise, as someone else said, try the food courts for Manchu Wok, Tiki Ming, or Holee Chow.

                                                                                                              -----
                                                                                                              C'est Bon
                                                                                                              2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

                                                                                                              1. j
                                                                                                                JennaBean Sep 15, 2010 08:51 AM

                                                                                                                I think that Szechuan Szechuan would be one of the better options for what you're looking for. I don't like Spadina Garden because I find it too North American but when my family comes to visit that is their preference.

                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                Spadina Garden
                                                                                                                116 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: JennaBean
                                                                                                                  j
                                                                                                                  juno Sep 15, 2010 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                  The OP is clearly nostalgic for a time when a decent Chinese dinner in Toronto included egg rolls, pork ends, chicken with pineapple and other golden oldies, and you usually had to trudge to Dundas and Elizabeth Streets - the centre of Toronto's original Chinatown - to find such morsels. I have friends who feel the same every now and then, in which case they make their way to Sea Hi, mentioned above, on the east side of Bathurst Street south of Highway 401. There it resides, as it has the past several decades, its menu embalmed in time (except for the prices) and, according to my friends, still surprisingly tasty. I've never been, not having felt the urge for such cuisine since my twenties, when Hop Sam's at 12 1/2 Elizabeth Street was my idea of cutting-edge Chinese. But I feel their nostalgia at times and I'll take my friends' word for it: it's good if you yearn for that kind of nosh. Seems to me there was a short thread recently about Sea Hi, and it wasn't entirely dismissive.

                                                                                                                2. Kagemusha Sep 15, 2010 08:47 AM

                                                                                                                  With respect--and some concern about Rip Van Time Warp issues--you're probably better off prowling mall food courts, which seem to be the last stand for this kind of "Chinese" food. Thankfully immigration, money and knowledge pushed this stuff to the margins. Try Sea Hi on Bathhurst.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Kagemusha
                                                                                                                    j
                                                                                                                    JBmaxx Sep 15, 2010 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                    I wonder if perhaps you have a bit of an outdated view of American Chinese? When OP said "not dumbed down" I suspect they were trying to explicitly exclude mall food.

                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                    JBmaxx Sep 15, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                    As an American who moved here a couple years ago, I have some sympathy for your predicament. In my case, I had become accustomed to American Szechuan, and what is mostly available here seems to be some sort of Canadian Cantonese, which I guess I'm not the biggest fan. I have, however, enjoyed a couple meals at Spadina Garden (http://www.spadinagarden.com/).
                                                                                                                    As for your first specific complaint, I too am bothered Toronto's cult of authenticity. I'm not saying that I am opposed to anything different, it's just that these (and other) boards can get downright racist, particularly when something like sushi is involved. I also agree with you that tastes are a personal thing, and so kudos to you for having the courage to be clear about what you are looking for. I only wish I'd sampled more of the city's Chinese so I could be of more help.
                                                                                                                    As for egg rolls, I've never had a particularly good egg roll, either here or in the states, so I can't help you with that. It's possible I just don't like egg rolls.
                                                                                                                    On a final note, if you're interested in dim sum, I was quite happy with my (somewhat pricey) meal at Lai Wah Heen (http://www.laiwahheen.com/).

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

                                                                                                                    Spadina Garden
                                                                                                                    116 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                                                                    Spadina Garden Restaurant
                                                                                                                    116 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5G1C3, CA

                                                                                                                    1. n
                                                                                                                      nuts4food Sep 15, 2010 07:21 AM

                                                                                                                      I have yet to find that type of egg roll in Toronto, and it is one I enjoy on every trip south. I too, am a fan of the type of chinese you speak and I can offer that for good (but not great ) chinese, the Szechuan, Szechuan chain is pretty solid. They are a relaxed, with nicer decor, American style large restaurant (at least at the Vaughn Mills location) with so so service but pretty good food.

                                                                                                                      Also, I like Spadina Garden on Dundas near Bay and Szechuan Gourmet on Steeles. Both have service issues and solid food. At Spadina Garden, it can take a while for someone to take your order, especially on weekends.
                                                                                                                      Be warned of Szechaun Gourmet though, the food is good to great for canadian szechuan but the service is atrocious. They deliver everything to your table at once and all within 2 minutes of arrival. So we tend to order soup and apps first and only order our mains when we are ready to have it brought to our table. They are crazy busy on weekends, so we tend to only go during the week when we feel less rushed.
                                                                                                                      I know that it is outrageous to put up with that type of service for that type of food, but I need my fix on occasion and am willing to forgive a lot.

                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                      Spadina Garden
                                                                                                                      116 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON , CA

                                                                                                                      Szechuan Gourmet Restaurant
                                                                                                                      1033 Steeles Ave W, Toronto, ON M2R2S9, CA

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: nuts4food
                                                                                                                        s
                                                                                                                        syrahc2 Sep 15, 2010 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                        Pray tell, what is so outrageous about that type of service for that type of food?

                                                                                                                        Hubby and I expect service to match cost.

                                                                                                                        1. re: syrahc2
                                                                                                                          n
                                                                                                                          nuts4food Sep 15, 2010 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                          Agreed on the service to match cost comment, but someone who hasn't been warned and is expecting a nice relaxed dinner on a Saturday night will be very dissapointed at Szechaun Gourmet no matter how good the food. It can be quite a zoo in there.

                                                                                                                          1. re: nuts4food
                                                                                                                            f
                                                                                                                            FrankD Sep 15, 2010 09:44 PM

                                                                                                                            "nice relaxed dinner" and "Saturday night" are mutually contradictory terms, so far as almost all Toronto restaurants are concerned, Chinese or not.

                                                                                                                      2. Dimbulb Sep 15, 2010 06:04 AM

                                                                                                                        Toronto did that kind of food 30 years ago — anyone remember Ginsberg & Wong? — bud sadly Sai Woo etc have all closed, replaced by Spring Rolls. China House used to be OK for that sort of thing but the new owners are said to have updated the menu.

                                                                                                                        If you like Toronto Thai, try Spring Roll's Chinese section. Not my cup of tea!

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Dimbulb
                                                                                                                          m
                                                                                                                          MeMeMe Sep 15, 2010 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                          China House would fit your bill. While they have updated their menu a bit, it still has the same classic dishes of olde. Tasty egg rolls. Good won ton soup. They have some great dishes, but stay away from the Shimp and Lobster sauce.

                                                                                                                          1. re: MeMeMe
                                                                                                                            m
                                                                                                                            millygirl Sep 15, 2010 11:54 AM

                                                                                                                            I found China House pretty disappointing a few months ago.

                                                                                                                            Wonton soup was served lukewarm and tasteless. Everything was pretty bland, including the rice, chinese chow mein. Lemon chicken was the only thing we can truly say we enjoyed eating.

                                                                                                                            1. re: MeMeMe
                                                                                                                              d
                                                                                                                              desserto Sep 26, 2010 08:29 PM

                                                                                                                              We went to China House tonight and loved everything about it. Excellent food, great service, wonderful decor. Friendly and efficient staff. The place was packed with families. We enjoyed the Sweet and Sour Chicken, Young Chow Fried Rice and Chicken Chow Mein. Greg's chocolate chip ice cream with almond cookies and fortune cookies was the perfect end to the meal. I can't wait to go back again!

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