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Oct 26, 2010 10:35 AM

Konner Chinese Restaurant (Finch & Midland)

Hit up a new-ish place (less than a year? not sure) serving Hunan food recently and had a quite enjoyable meal. Dishes from Konner hit that “spicy, but still tasty” strata of eats, which always makes me happy. Located in a gleaming and still-empty plaza (before “The Flag” plaza going North from Finch), this isn’t too hard to pick out among the empty shops.

Menu is quite extensive (12 pages long!) and offers things like stinky tofu, hot pots, and the like. I can't say if all the menu is a hit, but two out of three dishes I had were quite good and worth repeating.

From the blog:

Deep fried pepper with preserved egg and sesame oil. This is a cold dish and quite tasty… but deceptively spicy. My initial notes were “not as spicy as you’d think” and then there’s this kick at the end. Nice with a hot bowl of white rice. Didn’t think the whole bowl would be finished, but that got polished off while waiting for the next dish to arrive.

Steamed fish head (Hunan Style) with red peppers. I didn’t like this one nearly as much. Came with a bowl of noodles that went well with the broth. I just felt the fish wasn’t all that tasty/fresh. Also: not a huge fish head fan.

This is the smoked bamboo dish – and despite having 12 shots of menu – I can’t pick it out from the list (if you can, let me know what it is!!). However, you want to order this! Great crunchy texture and lovely smokey flavour from the bamboo. There’s also cured fatty pork (think bacon) and charred/caramelized onions tossed in there. All giving it a really layered flavour and of course, a healthy kick of spice from the chilies. Again, so, so, good with a bowl of hot, white, rice. As a note, I didn’t think it all that spicy when I was eating it, but left-overs the next day proved me wrong. Definitely a re-order for me.

They’re open late (to midnight on most nights, 1am on Fri/Sat) and will accept credit-cards above a certain dollar amount.

Detailed menu shots (1 of 12) on flickr:

Anyone else been? Any other good dishes? I've been meaning to go back, but am not in the area very often. Plus, a bonus is going to that dessert place just south of there...!

Konner Chinese Restaurant
3250 Midland Ave #126, Toronto, ON M1V 0C7, CA

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  1. I swear we drove thru that mall last week looking for new restaurants to try and my wife didn't see it (must be brand new, or else she must be blind!). It is across from a soon to open Pho place at the end of the new mall?

    We also noticed another Hunan place up by Silverstar blvd, but didn't get a chance to go in as the little ones can't take the heat. Have you tried that one as well for comparison?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Royaljelly

      Hmmm.. there's the older place called Ba Shu - not sure if you mean that one, as that's Sichuan (I think). If it is that one, I enjoy that place too - they have some yummy spicy pig's ears (cold) that I like a lot.

      As for Konner, it's on the South-side of the plaza, on the end closest to Midland. To be honest, I don't know what else is in that mall - we just went directly here on the recommendation of some work mates.

      1. re: Royaljelly

        If you are driving south on midland, you will see it on your right hand side. 玉樓東

      2. Wow. Wow. Based on your review, we went to Konner on Friday night. Did I say Wow? This is some scarily authentic stuff here. No General Tsao’s Chicken tonight!

        Very interesting food, this Hunan stuff. Would I be out of line to say that it reminded me a bit of my Szechuan experience at Hot Spicy Spicy at Leslie and Finch? Food that was redolent of far-away spices, exotic peppercorns, and very hearty. Very foreign flavours to my tongue, to say the least.

        We had the cold peppers; it seemed more like a condiment than an actual dish, and I think we would have been happy to have a bit less of it. And, ours was a bit more cloudy with preserved egg (compared with your photo). But, it was really good. We couldn’t find the bamboo dish! And, I tried to describe it, but to no avail. We did have some delicious stir-fried beef with cumin and scallions. It was very good and had an almost… Mexican flavour! Not really, but the cumin was surprising for us. We had squid stew which was okay, but lacking in some flavour. And, chicken cooked in bamboo was actually not so good.

        Lastly, the owner was very friendly and seemed to enjoy practicing her English with us, as we were the only white people there. She was lovely!

        All in all, this was a very eye-opening (my friend said “humbling”) experience to taste Chinese food that is so different from the stuff we are accustomed to.

        Thanks for this very interesting recommendation.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Fwagra

          If you like Hot Spicy Spicy, you should try ba shu jia ren on steeles and midland. Another szechuan restaurant, much better than hot spicy spicy!

          1. re: szw

            And if you go to Ba Shu Jia Ren, get the pig's ears. It's a cold dish and very tasty as well. Akin to the cold peppers for you, I'd think.

          2. re: Fwagra

            Glad you had a good experience. I will keep hunting for that bamboo dish. Sigh.

            1. re: jlunar

              I was at the restaurant yesterday and I had a smoked chicken gizzard dish that looked suspiciously like your Bamboo dish picture. Unless you specifically remember having ordered bamboo then that was likely what you ate!

              1. re: ngmatthe

                No, jlunar had the smoked bamboo dish. I went there this week and asked for the bamboo dish and they replied "Oh, you're from the internet!"

                For reference the dish is called "Yulou sauteed preserved pork with bamboo shoots" and it was fantastic. On the menu it's right above the stinky tofu.

                I took a friend who is semi-adventerous and while he hated the stinky tofu, he loved the smoked bamboo dish. We had the stir fried lamb with cumin and it was very good too.

                1. re: trane

                  Whoa! Thanks for the name - it was driving me a bit nutters.

            2. re: Fwagra

              Be careful with their specialty dish "deep fried pepper", the 'greenish one'. It doesn't look spicy (unlike those 'reddish' szechuan cuisine), but omg super hoooot. Don't underestimate this.

            3. Just went there for the second time this weekend, this is great Hunanese food. Went on a Sunday at 7PM and the place was packed; had to wait over 40 minutes to get a table but you can order your food in the meantime so you can pretty much start eating once you're seated. Previously I went there for lunch on a weekend and it was nearly empty so I was surprised at the crowds.

              We got:
              1) Stinky tofu - delicious and just like in the Huogongdian restaurant in Changsha

              2) Steamed smoked things - comes as a set of 3. I liked the smoked bacon but not so much the other things, which I think were duck, and some sort of fish.

              3) Eggplant - very savory, almost like eating non-crispy french fries

              4) Chicken dish hanging in a pot - excellent, chicken was very tender and the sauce was really good, bit of a kick but not overly spicy. This dish is very similar to "da pan ji" which you can find in western China.

              1. Hmmm..Konner has opened a second location in Times Square (next to Northern Dumpling Kitchen) as "Gtok", with a much condensed menu:

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                  LOL, are things delicious there!?

                  And ooooh... winkles.

                  Thanks for the heads-up!

                  1. re: Chester Eleganté

                    I was wondering whether it's the same Konner. I noticed it when we went to Northern Dumpling Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. It looks tiny from the outside, as if they plan to operate more for take-outs than dine-ins.

                    1. re: Tatai

                      An offshoot but its the same Konner! Food is equally super hot and spicy!! Too much for me!!