HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

Best Dim Sum in downtown Toronto

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. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Have you been to Lai wah Heen or Crown Princess?

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

    4 Replies
      1. re: KARREN67

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

        1. re: Herb

          ^ 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

        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. 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

          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: shekamoo

              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

                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.

                  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

            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

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

              1. re: skylineR33

                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

                  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

                    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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

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

                      1. re: Charles Yu

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

                        1. re: DArthur

                          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

                    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. The original comment has been removed
                  1. 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

                      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. 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

                        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

                          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

                          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