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Best Dim Sum in downtown Toronto

f
Festesser Oct 10, 2010 11:23 AM

We have tried many places, from Chinatown to Markham and found recently Pearl Harbor Front Cuisine, 207 Queens Quay, first floor, overlooking Lake Ontario. The quality of their Dim Sum I find is superior, in terms of selection, variety, texture and quality. They do excellent turnip cakes, steamed dumplings with thin dough, fine fillings and not chewy at all. Trolly serice is a bit random and it is recommended to order directly from the waiter, it gets to your table faster. The restaurant is clean, bright and service is good, bit pricey though but worthwhile

  1. Herb Oct 10, 2010 12:11 PM

    Have you been to Lai wah Heen or Crown Princess?

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: Herb
      k
      KARREN67 Oct 11, 2010 07:05 PM

      TRY KOWLOON ON BEVERLY

      1. re: KARREN67
        Herb Oct 12, 2010 05:39 AM

        Kowloon is on Baldwin. Cheap but hardly worth a trip.

        1. re: Herb
          ekim256 Oct 12, 2010 12:19 PM

          ^ agreed. I only go there out of convenience, I'd rather walk down to Rol San for cheap dimsum downtown

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

      2. re: Herb
        g
        gypsy_queen Nov 9, 2010 12:30 PM

        I second Crown Princess. Lovely dumplings that melt in your mouth. Great service. And surreal surroundings that just add to the delight.

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

      3. shekamoo Nov 9, 2010 05:08 PM

        just tried Crown Princes with a couple of friends. verdict all around was 'solid, not the best in town'.
        I think it should be considered best dim sum downtown excluding lai wah heen

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

        20 Replies
        1. re: shekamoo
          jlunar Nov 9, 2010 05:19 PM

          I think you could choose between Crown Princess and Pearl Harbourfont imo. Though I'd give the slight edge to CP right now. I'll re-evaluate in a few months and see CP keeps quality up.

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

          1. re: jlunar
            shekamoo Nov 9, 2010 06:17 PM

            fair enough.

            1. re: shekamoo
              shekamoo Apr 11, 2011 05:32 AM

              I want to further retract from my position and say that after a few more tries I have witnessed a dip in quality of crown princess and as of now I would go to Rol San over crown princess if downtown, although this is strictly a food choice and the 'ambiance', as we know, is really different between the two places.
              in sum, as of today, I say Rol San has better dim sum than crown princess and is a better choice for downtown dim sum

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

              1. re: shekamoo
                Notorious P.I.G. Jun 8, 2011 12:58 PM

                Really? They've slipped that much? I haven't been to either in a little while so I wouldn't know, but that sucks if it's true.

                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                  shekamoo Jun 9, 2011 06:23 AM

                  sadly yes, but then again consistency is a huge problem for TO dim sum so I may have caught a few bad breaks. wont be returning though unless I hear 'new news' of good quality

                  1. re: shekamoo
                    ekim256 Jun 11, 2011 11:43 PM

                    Sad Face.

          2. re: shekamoo
            d
            DArthur Jan 7, 2011 05:40 PM

            Crown Princess has the best dim sum in Downtown Toronto core. It is closest to what I considered high-end Hong Kong style dim sum. They are subtle and fresh, which is what good dim sum should be.

            Kowloon is not what I consider a good place. Pearl Harborfront is fine, but not superb. Lai Wah Heen - well, others can go there. That way I won't have to wait for lines at Crown Princess.

            -----
            Wah's Restaurant
            23 Simcoe Plaza, Terrace Bay, ON P0T2W0, CA

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

            1. re: DArthur
              skylineR33 Jan 7, 2011 06:20 PM

              It is Lai Wah Heen, not Lah Wah Heen, I think it is better than Crown Princess.

              1. re: skylineR33
                c
                childofthestorm Jan 7, 2011 06:25 PM

                Yeah let's be very clear, I'm a fan of Crown Princess, mostly for their early bird special (which some say is now over). But Lai Wah Heen is the best in town, and one of the best in North America. If you want the "best" spend the money and go to Lai Wah Heen.

                1. re: childofthestorm
                  shekamoo Jan 7, 2011 06:34 PM

                  It's not THAT expensive either, $40-45 per head all-in is easily within the realm of possibilities, not much more than the 'Casa's uptown.

                  1. re: shekamoo
                    d
                    DArthur Jan 7, 2011 07:35 PM

                    Casa is not where it is at anymore. The key chefs and managers have moved on, and their dimsum quality have suffered.

              2. re: DArthur
                Charles Yu Jan 7, 2011 06:33 PM

                I sincerely hope that you are not making comparison of Crown Princess' Dim Sum with those in 'High-end Dim Sum places' in Hong Kong?
                CP might outshine most of its 'downtown Toronto' competitors but qualitywise, their version is no where near some of Hong Kong's best, such as Fook Lam Moon, The Golden Leaf, Yan Toh Heen, Lei Garden, Fu Sing...etc. In fact, using the simple 'Har Gow' as yardstick, CP's dumpling assembly ( ie., number of folds ), wrapper integrity and texture, freshness, seasoning and mouth feel of the shrimp/bambooshoot filling, all fell short of what some of Hong Kong's best has to offer! This also applies to their rice roll ( Cheung Fun ) as well! Furthermore, they do not offer any b-b-q or marinated meat products which are an essential part of all Hong Kong Dim Sum menu eg., the crispy skin three layer roasted pork belly cubes or rose wine essence top soy marinated chicken.
                The only Toronto Dim Sum restaurant that comes close to good Hong Kong standard is, IMO, Lai Wah Heen.

                1. re: Charles Yu
                  d
                  DArthur Jan 7, 2011 07:34 PM

                  Charles - those are fine example of Hong Kong restaurants. I am just not impressed with Lai Wah Heen.

                  I went to Lai Wah Heen wanting to like it and brought my parents there as a treat. I was extremely disappointed with what they had.
                  - the duck was not spectacular
                  - the siu mai was not juicy and hot the way it should be
                  - the steamed buns should be fluffy, but weren't
                  - the braised boneless chicken was serviceable, but they used powdered chicken stock
                  - the rice noodle rolls were ok, but at $8 were just too expensive for the imaginary additional quality

                  Most of all, I was disappointed with the tea that they serve. Dim Sum is about having great tea that should be savored like a cigar. Lai Wah Heen's tea loses favor.

                  If you are of new money wanting to spend it, by all means you should visit Lai Wah Heen.

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

                  1. re: DArthur
                    skylineR33 Jan 7, 2011 07:46 PM

                    Well I don't find Crown Princess's tea better than Lai Wah Heen.

                    Restaurant has it's off day, this is just your bad experience at LWH which does not mean people eat at Lai Wah Heen are not Chinese or they don't know anything about Chinese food. Dim sum restaurants in Toronto is inconsistent, this is a known problem here. Same with Lai Wah Heen, not everyone dine at Crown Princess has great experience. But in overall, dim sum quality at Lai Wah Heen is above Crown Princess. Not everyone agree on this, but I bet there are more people agree on this than disagree on this and many are Chinese, including me.

                    1. re: skylineR33
                      d
                      DArthur Jan 7, 2011 07:57 PM

                      I think that a majority of people who say they like LWH probably has not had '000 of experience the way I did. I grew up on dim sum.

                      I will give LWH group respect for trying. I tried Lai Toh Heen. Their foie gras dumpling was a solid attempt, but I just don't think that there is a market for really high-end dim sum in Toronto.

                      And when there is no demand for it, the quality suffers. That said dumpling was... serviceable. The foie gras did not improve the taste the way it should have.

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

                      1. re: DArthur
                        skylineR33 Jan 7, 2011 08:17 PM

                        A lots of people on this board grew up on dim sum and have a lots of experience with it.

                        Regarding restaurants of the LWH group, they are expensive restaurants, not the best in world standard (in fact there is a long way to go), but they are some of the best Toronto has to offer

                        It is good that you give respect. Keep doing that.

                    2. re: DArthur
                      Charles Yu Jan 7, 2011 07:47 PM

                      When was that?? Must be an off day?!

                      1. re: Charles Yu
                        d
                        DArthur Jan 7, 2011 07:50 PM

                        It was a Sunday. My mother was upset that I had to drag her downtown for a medicore experience.

                        1. re: DArthur
                          Charles Yu Jan 8, 2011 05:35 AM

                          When one dissects and evaluate the 'whole package' ( ie., food, value for money, service, ambience...etc ). Just as Toronto does not have any outstanding sushi restaurants but only fairly good, passable ones, the same can be said about Dim Sum and for that matter, Won-Ton noodles!
                          When I first tried out LWH 'years ago', the relatively new dim sum chef, whom they hired from Spring Moon ( Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel fame ) was churning out some really outstanding products. I guess after so many years, as with so many places, complacency and attrition of staff starts to set in and quality inevitably deteriorates.
                          Thats why, like it or not, sometimes it is good for a city to have the presence and acknowledgement of a world renown food review body like Michelin whose 'star' incentive helps restaurants to keep their standard up!

                  2. re: DArthur
                    T Long Jan 7, 2011 07:58 PM

                    My downtown dim sum rotation includes Pearl, Dynasty, Crown Princess, and Rol San. Lai Wah Heen may or may not have the better food (I have not been there for several years), but it is not on my rotation for cost/value considerations (ie. just don't think it is worth the money). I don't really have a favorite, but enjoy all four of the places in my rotation. Which is best?...that's just subjective imo. I have no first hand experience with Kowloon.

                2. PoppiYYZ Jan 8, 2011 04:19 AM

                  As a Dim Sum novice, I excitedly went to Lai Wah Heen for a leisurely late lunch based on an old NY Times review that said they had the best Dim Sum in North America. With the help of the waiter, a very light breakfast, and a flexible budget, we ordered a considerable range of DS.

                  Novice or not, we just found the food bland and the texture monotonous. The atmosphere was like eating in a wedding hall. But we've been there and tried that...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PoppiYYZ
                    skylineR33 Jan 8, 2011 05:34 AM

                    Seriously, this is what I found in every single dim sum places in Toronto. The dim sum scene in Toronto is not as good as before, quality is going down. But at least at LWH and LTH, I can find a har gow that does not break apart whenever I try to pick it up or a cheung fun that is not way too sticky, too thick or easily broken with good quality cha siu.

                  2. j
                    jaedalaurez Jan 9, 2011 08:37 AM

                    Okay, as someone who could really use the advice, I'd really like to hear what restos you LIKE as opposed to just everything you hate about what the one person who was nice enough to put what they liked up.

                    I like Crown Princess, but I have no idea if it's the best or not, and I'd like to try some other places. I don't care what they're doing in Hong Kong, cause I'm not eating there. Can we please get some actual recommendations?

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

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jaedalaurez
                      skylineR33 Jan 9, 2011 08:51 AM

                      Have you read the post ? There are at least 5 recommendations in here. Lai Wah Heen, Lai Toh Heen, Pearl, Dynasty and Rol San.

                      1. re: skylineR33
                        Charles Yu Jan 9, 2011 08:57 AM

                        Not to mention Yang's, Emperor, Regal Palace ( Hwy#7), Ambassador, Empire Court and all the Casa's...., if one doesn't mind the drive uptown!!

                      2. re: jaedalaurez
                        b
                        balthazar Jun 26, 2011 03:55 PM

                        Some of my favourites and why:

                        - Pearl Harbourfront (because it's good, reasonably priced, good selection, conveniently near work, great for taking friends, visitors, business colleagues, first-timers, etc., and you can't beat that view!). This would be my midrange pick in terms of price/quality.

                        - Lai Toh Heen (great atmosphere - stylish but not too stuffy, a bit pricier/higher-end quality but still manageable, a step above creatively from typical everyday dim sum, easy location for me; LTH is one of my favourite restos in the city but I tend to go there only for special occasions). This would be high end pick in the city.

                        - some place on Dundas the name I can't remember (close to Asian Legend on the north side. In the category of good cheap eats. Great for lunch weekdays, easy to get to from financial district, carts come fast, is easy on the wallet. Not high end, but perfectly fine if you just want to eat and enjoy, not spend much and don't care about whether it's the "best". This and a other places (Pearl Court on Gerrard, for e.g.) are my picks for inexpensive but enjoyable dim sum when simply good is good enough and I really don't care if it's the "best" or not.

                        LWH is very nice dim sum... I just find that for me personally, the significantly higher price tag for eating there isn't matched by a significantly higher enjoyment of the food (and I do find the atmosphere stuffy, another minus). Plus you will rack up quite a bill if you go there hungry...

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

                      3. The Chowhound Team Jan 9, 2011 10:02 AM

                        A discussion of the merits of dim sum as a cuisine has been split to the General Chowhounding Topics board:

                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/758441

                        1. Platoputas Apr 11, 2011 12:37 PM

                          My go-to spots are Crown Princess and Dynasty. I find there are generally two categories of dim sum in downtown Toronto. Lower price with corresponding lower quality and basic ambience, and then higher end with better food and opulent atmosphere (like Pearl near Harbourfront, Crown Princess and Dynasty which end up around $25/person). I'd actually put Lai Wah Heen into its own category since the upscale price definitely vaults it into an "only for very special occasions" with my budget. So it might very well be the "best," I just don't think it's affordable on a regular basis.

                          Sadly the early-bird special at Crown Princess (which was $3.10 for all small, medium and large dishes ordered before 11 a.m.) is no longer offered. That made it an obvious winner in my books but now it's simply on par with Dynasty.

                          The suggestions here make me realize I need to visit Rol San soon.

                          www.platoputas.com

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

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

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

                          17 Replies
                          1. re: Platoputas
                            miketoronto Jun 8, 2011 12:31 PM

                            Going to Rol San or Crown Princess this weekend (first timer). Any idea what time I should be there to avoid major lines? Any must haves?

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

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

                            1. re: miketoronto
                              j
                              justto Jun 11, 2011 07:45 AM

                              There is a NEW restaurant beside Kim Moon Bakery (Dundas and Huron). Second floor. Sorry forget the name. This space is more modern. And I would rate the food on par or better with Rol San.

                              Service is slower though.

                              -----
                              Kim Moon Bakery
                              438 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

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

                              1. re: justto
                                Teep Jun 11, 2011 04:52 PM

                                The one on the second floor is called Sen Ming Garden which used to be further west. They advertise all-day dim sum.

                                1. re: justto
                                  s
                                  sway Jun 11, 2011 10:39 PM

                                  I've gone to the one on the second floor about four times now, it's pretty good, but I don't think it was ass good as Crown Princess or Lai Wah Heen. Although I haven't been back to either in the last six months or so...sorry, I also don't remember the name either...

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

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

                                  1. re: sway
                                    s
                                    sway Jul 4, 2011 08:23 PM

                                    The place is called Dim Sum King.

                                  2. re: justto
                                    Teep Jul 3, 2011 08:04 PM

                                    OK tried Sen Ming today and would rate them below Rol San. Had a few basic items, most are not bad, but dumpling skins (especially har gow) are sticky and thick. Also I asked for Sou Mei (white tea), the waitress said they don't have it, so I said Jasmine is OK. When she went to get it I heard her asking and someone said Sou Mei is just Iron Buddha! (an oolong which is close to black tea) So the waitress came and said they actually have Sou Mei, do I want it? er, no thanks! The Jasmine turned out to be really low grade stuff, so it's a lost either way.

                                    On the menu is steamed egg whites with ginger, not a common item, but it's a big miss - much too sweet and no ginger flavour at all.

                                    1. re: Teep
                                      prima Jul 4, 2011 08:54 AM

                                      Are the prices at Sen Ming roughly the same as Rol San?

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

                                      1. re: prima
                                        Teep Jul 4, 2011 05:56 PM

                                        I think it's $ 3.68/3.28/2.98/2.68 for XL/L/M/S, and Mon-Fri lunch all at the S price.

                                        1. re: Teep
                                          prima Jul 4, 2011 07:02 PM

                                          Thanks, Teep.

                                      2. re: Teep
                                        mariecollins Feb 9, 2012 07:28 AM

                                        Just went to Sen Ming with my parents and had an enjoyable meal. Not the very best dim sum but the service was good and it was cheap and clean. Will go again when I want dim sum downtown. I love Yangs, but honestly, it's wasted on my parents (they preferred Sen Ming). Four of us ate (a lot) and the final bill was $43.

                                        1. re: mariecollins
                                          Delish Feb 9, 2012 08:07 AM

                                          I believe Sen Ming is now called Second Floor Restaurant. I don't know if ownership has changed or just the name. We enjoyed our dim sum there recently. We also ordered delivey a week or so ago, and it was only OK. Some dishes better than others.

                                    2. re: miketoronto
                                      prima Jun 11, 2011 09:59 PM

                                      I like the Buddha's Feast cheung fun (rice flour rolls filled with a veggie mix) at Rol San, but newbies sometimes don't like the texture of rice flour rolls. Haven't been there to either Rol San or Crown Princess for a while, but there shouldn't be lines at 10:30 or 11. Would think there would be lines by 11:15 or so.

                                      Crown Princess takes reservations.

                                      If it's your first time to have dim sum, I'd recommend har gow (crystal shrimp dumplings), siu mai (steamed pork and shrimp dumpling, sometimes topped with scallop and/or roe), char siu bao (steamed bbq pork bun, or baked bbq pork bun), nor mai gai ( sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf, stuffed with sausage, chicken, other stuff), egg tart/milk tart (custard tarts) and jin deui (sweet sesame balls filled with a sweet red bean or lotus bean paste). There are also plenty of fried dumplings/rolls available, as well as congee and soups. I usually order some gai lan (Chinese Broccoli), since most dim sum is light on veg content.

                                      How many people are in your party? If you go with 3 or 4 people, expect to order 8-10 dishes (start with 2 per person + 2 for the table). If it's just 2 people, you'll be probably be fine with 6 dishes. If you find you order too many dishes, you can always take home the leftovers.

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

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

                                      1. re: prima
                                        p
                                        piccola Jun 12, 2011 05:44 PM

                                        Rol San has veggie rice flour rolls??? Amazing! I love rice flour rolls but I can never find a vegetarian version... Do they have any other veg options?

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

                                        1. re: piccola
                                          prima Jun 13, 2011 06:22 AM

                                          They have some veggie dumplings, too. I would think they'd have mango pudding (which might contain gelatin, I'm not sure), and some vegetarian tofu desserts. Jin Deui would be vegetarian, before they get fried, but I'm not sure if Rol San uses 100% vegetable oil/peanut oil for frying.

                                          Some of the stuffed tofu dishes and stuffed eggplant dishes come stuffed with a shrimp mixture, so it's difficult place for a strict vegetarian to let loose. The turnip cake, like most traditional turnip cakes, includes bits of meat. You might want to bring an omnivore friend who can test the dishes for you. Also be aware the egg tarts use lard in the crust, and it's quite possible lard is used in the fried donuts or other fried dishes.

                                          If you go, and order the gai lan, you might want to tell them to hold the Oyster Sauce. :-)

                                          I noticed a newish vegetarian Chinese restaurant (the one with a big yellow sign, and green letters, and a fairly modern, stylish-for-Chinatown interior) on Dundas, at the western edge of Chinatown, west of Augusta. Does anyone know if they serve dim sum?

                                          1. re: prima
                                            p
                                            piccola Jun 13, 2011 06:51 PM

                                            Yeah, all those reasons are why I rarely attempt dim sum anymore. :(

                                            1. re: prima
                                              Teep Jun 25, 2011 07:49 AM

                                              "Greens Vegetarian Restaurant" does not serve any dim sum. The only place I've had veggie dim sum is Lotus Pond in Scarborough.

                                            2. re: piccola
                                              p
                                              Pincus Jun 13, 2011 08:12 AM

                                              They have a bamboo and mushroom dumpling which I always order. It's my favourite thing on their dim sum menu!

                                      2. Charles Yu Jun 13, 2011 07:02 AM

                                        Considering the fact that good dim sum places downtown are far and few ( may be a couple or three at most?! ). I'm surprised there are over 40 responses to this topic! Ha!!

                                        18 Replies
                                        1. re: Charles Yu
                                          Teep Jun 13, 2011 06:28 PM

                                          Are you being condescending? that's so not like you ;-)

                                          With places changing, opening and closing there's always room for discussion. E.g. the new incarnation of Sen Ming Garden got a few good remarks, but I might not get to try it soon as my elderly parents don't like having to trudge up the stairs.

                                          1. re: Teep
                                            Charles Yu Jun 13, 2011 07:33 PM

                                            By 'Best', I assume at least good to great. Otherwise, whats the point of making recommendations?! Right?! If thats the case, then IMHO, for downtown, there really are not a lot to discuss! In fact, overall dim sum quality in the GTA has become so mediocre and inconsistent that even up town, there's not a lot of 'consistent' good ones! eg., Casa Imperial used to be good, now its only so-so and over-rated . Likewise, Yang's used to be good when it first opened, now, the Har Gow shrimp dumplings or the rice noodle 'cheung-fun' are so badly made and executed, I have to leave the overly thick skin on the plate! And the list goes on and on...!! For a dim sum lunch, like tapas, one would need a few dishes to complete the meal. Unfortunately, I find the trend nowadays are for restaurants to excel in only a few dishes and the rest??!!.... Yeeeeeuck! Result?! Not a lot of good variety to choose from!
                                            ( For great dim sum, head out to Richmond in BC!! Ha! And I am NOT being condescending!!)

                                            1. re: Charles Yu
                                              Teep Jun 13, 2011 07:53 PM

                                              So for those who can not or do not want to head up north, they should stop having dim sum altogether? of course everything is relative, we have to talk about what is worthwhile eating for those who want to stay downtown. And not everyone want to spend that kind of money at Lai Wah Heen.

                                              1. re: Teep
                                                Charles Yu Jun 13, 2011 08:09 PM

                                                If, like you said, one eliminates Lai Wah Heen due to cost consideration, Then, we are left with Crown Princess and Rol San as 'worthwhile' candidates. Do we really need 46 replies to get the two recommendations across?! Just wondering??!!

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

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

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

                                                1. re: Charles Yu
                                                  Herb Jun 14, 2011 04:15 AM

                                                  Beats 342 posts about Burger Priest.

                                                  1. re: Herb
                                                    prima Jun 14, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                    Completely agree, Herb. Although I'm happy that 342 posts about Burger Priest probably helps stimulate the local economy.

                                                    Doesn't matter to me that Rol San isn't the best in Toronto, in Canada, or in the world, especially when Rol San is only going to set me back $15 at lunchtime. Dim sum is still a treat for me, even when the har gow wrapper falls apart, because I rarely make anything like that at home.

                                                    I've mentioned this before- I try to adjust my expectations, taking into consideration the city, the neighbourhood, the pricepoint. That way, I'm usually only disappointed when service falls below the expected norm for the level of restaurant, when the food is off (rancid or not fresh- I expect fresh food regardless of the price point), when the kitchen destroys what had been a perfectly good ingredient, or when I haven't taken the enthusiastically positive tweets and Chowhound posts I've read with enough salt. Sometimes, trial and error also helps in avoiding disappointing dim sum. After a couple meh experiences in Chinatown East, I rarely order fried dishes at any cheap/economical dim sum restos, to avoid the chance of ordering something that was fried in oil that needs changing.

                                                    I'd much rather spend my dining dollars at Rol San, Chinese Traditional Buns or Mother's Dumplings, than a place like Woodlot or Fishbar.

                                                    I noticed there's an upscale dim sum restaurant in Mill Valley, California, that makes dim sum daily from local Marin County ingredients. Wondering whether any upscale dim sum operators in Richmond Hill/Markham would ever consider using Perth County pork, Soiled Reputation Greens, Purdy's Fish, Hooked Inc fish, etc in their upscale dim sum? I'd love for a restaurant like this to open up in the GTA.

                                                    http://harmonyrestaurantgroup.com/pg/aboutus.html

                                                    Harmony in Mill Valley, California's menu: http://harmonyrestaurantgroup.com/med...

                                                    -----
                                                    Chinese Traditional Buns
                                                    536 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5T, CA

                                                    Mother's Dumplings
                                                    421 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON , CA

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

                                                2. re: Teep
                                                  shekamoo Jun 14, 2011 05:17 AM

                                                  I was at Lai Wah Heen the other day for dim sum. The food was so mediocre tasting and haphazardly executed that I wanted to cry. I wonder if the golden days of GTA dim sum are over? what a shame that would be. I think keeping the conversation going may generate some interest and create some pressure for higher consistency and quality...

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

                                                  1. re: shekamoo
                                                    Charles Yu Jun 14, 2011 06:36 AM

                                                    Welcome to the club!! Both skylineR33 and myself both found LWH's dim sum had gone done hill. In fact as you eluded to, this observation applies to GTA dim sum in general as well!

                                                    1. re: shekamoo
                                                      Charles Yu Jun 14, 2011 03:28 PM

                                                      IMHO, I do not believe any amount of postings and complaints by us chowhounders will alter the status quo of current GTA's dim sum scene!

                                                      Great dim sum depends not only on availablity and quality of ingredients but more importantly, on the experience and calibre of the dim sum chef. With North America still recovering from the recession whilst the Far East and the Orient is enjoying a 'boom', great dim sum chefs are staying put in Asia or getting hired at top salary to work in China! Thats why, unless we get infusion of new blood and old experience, our dim sum will always be average at best, with dishes like Har Gow having below par wrapper that falls apart , have the wrong texture, thickness and number of folds and the filling sans the important 'winter bamboo shoot component....etc'!

                                                      1. re: shekamoo
                                                        jlunar Jun 15, 2011 03:41 PM

                                                        I've thought so for the last year now that LWH was pretty mediocre. I felt I had better har gow at Crown Princess (when it first opened)! It's why I don't really like recommending LWH any more - so expensive, but doesn't seem to live up to my expectations at that price point.

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

                                                        1. re: jlunar
                                                          shekamoo Jun 15, 2011 05:53 PM

                                                          I would not recommend it again without a whole host of caveats and carve outs and cautions and discharges and conditions

                                                          1. re: shekamoo
                                                            Notorious P.I.G. Jun 15, 2011 06:16 PM

                                                            Anyone try Lai Toh Heen lately? Better? Worse?

                                                            I have some friends coming in from SF who enjoyed Lai Wah Heen immensely a couple years ago and they want to go back or try something that would be its equivalent.

                                                            Would hate to disappoint them.

                                                            1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                              Charles Yu Jun 15, 2011 07:57 PM

                                                              With ever changing economy and rotation of chefs, two years can be a long long time in the restaurant business! No doubt, by TO standard, LWH was good two years ago! Now?! Good luck!
                                                              Just take a look at Via Allegro! Two years ago it was a 4* in Toronto Life, a couple of months ago, it was demoted to 1* and now, Its not even worth a mentioning!!

                                                              1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                Notorious P.I.G. Jun 15, 2011 08:29 PM

                                                                Right, so are you saying Lai Toh Heen is also not worth visiting?

                                                                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                                  shekamoo Jun 16, 2011 05:16 AM

                                                                  I was at Lai Toh Heen ca. 6 months ago for dim sum and must say the food was slightly better than the usual uptown suspects during the same time period.

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

                                                                  1. re: Notorious P.I.G.
                                                                    Charles Yu Jun 16, 2011 06:27 AM

                                                                    Been at LTH only a few months ago. Quality was actually pretty decent! Not sure about now!

                                                                    1. re: Charles Yu
                                                                      Notorious P.I.G. Jun 16, 2011 08:34 AM

                                                                      Thanks a lot guys! I'll give it a try! I've been to Lai Wah Heen a few times this year and I have to say that it wasn't as good as previous years. There where definitely some good dishes but overall execution was sloppier than usual and tastes where off.

                                                                  2. re: Charles Yu
                                                                    b
                                                                    Big Kahuna 1 Jun 25, 2011 10:16 AM

                                                                    Charles is absolutely right. Unless a dim sum chef has a proprietary interest in a particular restaurant, the revolving door of dim sum chefs in GTA will continue and subsequent mediocre /inconsistent dim sum in Toronto will continue. Actually, the best dim sum I've had on this continent in the last two years was in Monterey Park, a mainly Chinese suburb of Los Angeles. The establishment was much like LWH but the prices more reasonable! Having said that, my feeling is that dim sum is like sex: when it's good, it's wonderful; when it's bad, it's still pretty good!

                                                  2. s
                                                    smfan Jun 25, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                    Lai Toh Heen only opens for lunch on the Weekend.

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

                                                    1. n
                                                      ns1 Jun 26, 2011 09:38 PM

                                                      Based on the this thread, am I correct in assuming an LA hound shouldn't be stopping by LWH because of declining price/quality ratio over the past 2 years?

                                                      18 Replies
                                                      1. re: ns1
                                                        aser Jun 26, 2011 11:20 PM

                                                        I might be a dissenting voice but I still feel it's worth trying.

                                                        Also, I find you can do LWH for $25-30 if you avoid the SP items, if budget is a concern. Usually I go w/ my gf and order 6-7 dishes. We routinely get away with spending only $25-$30 per person. Which to me is not expensive at all for the quality you're getting. It's still the best option downtown when I can't get up north to Casa Victoria (my parents' fav), or Yang's (mine) or Graceful Vegetarian for veg dim sum.

                                                        I have to admit some dishes have taken a dip in quality compared to 4-5 yrs ago, most notably their rice rolls. Much too thick imo. On the other hand, their spareribs is one of the best in the city.

                                                        1. re: aser
                                                          n
                                                          ns1 Jun 27, 2011 09:22 AM

                                                          Interesting, I'll have to consider. FWIW, when I eat at "top end dim sum" in LA (Sea Harbour, Elite) I top out @ 30/head. Anything after seems ridiculous.

                                                          So I guess it's LWH, Rol San, or Crown Princess...unfortunately we'll be there on Saturday. Are all these menu driven? What's the best cart-driven dim sum in TO?

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

                                                          1. re: ns1
                                                            prima Jun 27, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                            LWH, Crown Princesss and Rol San use menus. Forestview and Sky Dragon use carts. I haven't been to Sky Dragon or Forestview in a few years, so I'm not sure what their dim sum has been like lately, but both are similar to Rol San, pricewise, if I remember correctly. Where you sit at Forestview and Sky Dragon can determine whether you get much cart traffic. If you decide to sit near the kitchen, make sure you're sitting in a spot where the cart ladies emerge from the kitchen, rather than where they return to the kitchen, so you can choose your dim sum while it's fresh & hot, before the wrappers get soggy, and before the cart has made a lap around the dining room.

                                                            There shouldn't be much of a wait, if any, if you arrive at Rol San, Forestview or Sky Dragon before 11 am on a Saturday. If you don't want any wait, I'd aim to be there closer to 10:30 am.

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

                                                            Forestview Chinese Restaurant Ltd
                                                            466 468 Dundas W, Toronto, ON M5T1G9, CA

                                                            Sky Dragon Restaurant
                                                            280 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T3A5, CA

                                                            1. re: prima
                                                              n
                                                              ns1 Jun 27, 2011 10:07 AM

                                                              thanks for the excellent information!~

                                                              1. re: prima
                                                                g
                                                                ggom1 Jun 28, 2011 06:32 PM

                                                                I was at Sky Dragon a few months ago (top floor of Dragon City mall at Dundas/Spadina right?) and the food was ranged from ok to terrible. Not much flavour - I remember happily seeing tamiaw but when we got it, it tasted like nothing. Same with the soft tofu - the syrup was really watery. I think we were there for a later lunch though, so maybe that was part of the problem.

                                                                1. re: ggom1
                                                                  Teep Jun 28, 2011 07:15 PM

                                                                  Nah, that's the usual caliber of their food, though I haven't had anything that's "terrible". The dou-miao pea shoots are rather tasteless but that's what the chili-soy dipping sauce is for.

                                                                2. re: prima
                                                                  jennjen18 Sep 6, 2011 07:26 PM

                                                                  Hi Prima -- do you know if Rol San has 24/7 dimsum, or is it just for brunch? I wanna do a dim sum dinner with a friend in Chinatown. A quick search shows they have a regular menu, but doesnt have a dimsum menu http://toronto.fyood.com/restaurant/m...

                                                                  )

                                                                  Other than that, I know Noble Seafood does dimsum at dinnertime, but not sure of the quality.

                                                                  Also looking for custard baos if there are any good ones to be found in Chinatown!

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

                                                                  1. re: jennjen18
                                                                    p
                                                                    ProFresser Sep 7, 2011 10:28 AM

                                                                    I find Noble to have the best quality of any of these spots downtown. Be sure to try the cheong fun with fried doughnut!

                                                                    1. re: ProFresser
                                                                      Teep Sep 7, 2011 06:57 PM

                                                                      For dinner at Noble they only offer a pared down selection of dim sum with the most common items like har gow, they may not serve cheong fun at that time.

                                                                      1. re: Teep
                                                                        jennjen18 Sep 7, 2011 08:52 PM

                                                                        They do offer a ticking sheet -- and I remember seeing it there... gonna go see and report back!

                                                                        Thanks!

                                                                      2. re: ProFresser
                                                                        Teep Feb 10, 2012 07:26 AM

                                                                        Was at Noble last weekend and was really disappointed. Nothing was yum. Har gow was especially bland; E fu noodles were not only bland but overcooked and soggy, unlike what we had for dinner there a month ago. Won't be back for dim sum any time soon.

                                                                        1. re: Teep
                                                                          justsayn Feb 10, 2012 09:55 AM

                                                                          That's disappointing to read! Noble is my go-to after Rol San. Hopefully they will swing back! I love E fu noodles. They are great at New Sky and actually Rol San has a decent version.

                                                                      3. re: jennjen18
                                                                        p
                                                                        Pincus Sep 8, 2011 02:00 PM

                                                                        I've gone to Roi San for dim sum at 10 p.m., if that helps.

                                                                        1. re: jennjen18
                                                                          prima Jan 31, 2012 01:48 PM

                                                                          Hi jennjen18- I am really late responding. Sorry! Looks like Pincus has answered the question! I didn't realize Rol San would still serve dim sum as late as 10 pm. I've never dined at Rol San later than mid-afternoon.

                                                                          Haven't tried Noble, and haven't had any custard baos in Chinatown recently!

                                                                          1. re: prima
                                                                            jennjen18 Mar 1, 2012 08:29 PM

                                                                            No worries... I think Rol San serves dim sum past hours, but certain ones like the noodle rolls aren gone from the menu. Same with Noble...

                                                                            I'm surprised about the news re: Noble... they're our go-to for dishes, but not dim sum... they dont do a good job of it.

                                                                      4. re: ns1
                                                                        skylineR33 Jun 27, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                                        I don't think $30 for dim sum is ridiculous. It is pretty normal for high end dim sum in world standard to charge more than $30 per person. High standard dim sum are expensive and not cheap food afterall. The pricing of dim sum at LWH is quite reasonable as the most high end dim sum restaurant in Toronto. FYI, you have to pay more than or much more than $30 per person for almost if not all the high end dim sum places in Hong Kong.

                                                                    2. re: ns1
                                                                      s
                                                                      smfan Jun 27, 2011 03:06 AM

                                                                      NS1 if you are staying downtown, Rol San is a better choice for price/quailty. But avoid weekend lunch hours. The lineup is long.

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

                                                                      1. re: ns1
                                                                        b
                                                                        Big Kahuna 1 Jun 27, 2011 08:33 AM

                                                                        You can see from my post that to me, "passable" dim sum is better than no dim sum. FYI, in Monterey Park, the name of the restaurant eludes me because I lost the menu. I believe it may have been Ocean Star Seafood.

                                                                      2. d
                                                                        DaveMaharaj Jan 2, 2013 08:24 PM

                                                                        Best dim sum in the GTA for me:
                                                                        Pearl Harbor
                                                                        Casa Imperial
                                                                        Peaktop (Vaughan)
                                                                        Ambassador
                                                                        Crown Princess
                                                                        LWH
                                                                        Emerald
                                                                        Dynasty
                                                                        Diamond
                                                                        Rol San

                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                        1. re: DaveMaharaj
                                                                          T Long Jan 2, 2013 08:48 PM

                                                                          Where is Diamond located? Guess you are referring to Emerald in Mississauga?

                                                                          1. re: T Long
                                                                            d
                                                                            DaveMaharaj Jan 2, 2013 08:52 PM

                                                                            Diamond banquet hall is located in First Markham Place and yes, I'm referring to Emerald in Mississauga.

                                                                            1. re: DaveMaharaj
                                                                              T Long Jan 2, 2013 08:58 PM

                                                                              Thanks. Btw, Ambassador in RH is kaput.

                                                                              1. re: T Long
                                                                                d
                                                                                DaveMaharaj Jan 2, 2013 09:08 PM

                                                                                Really? Wow. Thanks for the update. Any idea what happened?

                                                                                1. re: DaveMaharaj
                                                                                  T Long Jan 2, 2013 09:16 PM

                                                                                  Don't know any specifics, but the Chinese restaurant business in that area is very cut-throat and there has been a price war for a while. There's a current thread on the restaurant that has taken over Ambassador's old location... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/884549

                                                                            2. re: T Long
                                                                              l
                                                                              londonhk Jan 9, 2013 06:46 PM

                                                                              I would definitely not recommend Diamond. I've been there numerous time for both dim sum and dinner and have been disappointed each time.

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