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ISO Downtown cheap-but-tasty dim sum restaurant with carts

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  • looz Jan 21, 2011 06:15 PM
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I really love the whole cart experience at dim sum. I know that the food is often better at restaurants where you order off the menu (and we often go there! Faves include Rol San, Dynasty and Cha Liu,) but there's something really special about ordering off a cart. You never know what you're going to get. :)

Our previous regular place for carts was Yiu Wah, upstairs on Dundas between Spadina and Beverly. Now that they've closed, I have no idea where to go. The food was the upper side of mediocre, but I loved the environment, and it was really cheap. Dim sum for two was often $15.

Since then, we've tried Forestview and Bright Pearl. Forestview left me very disappointed.. Cheap, but I found the food more like the lower end of mediocre. Bright Pearl was tastier, but more expensive and with a limited selection. It felt kind of like "Dim Sum For Beginners."

There was a place we occasionally went to out on Gerrard - the name escapes me - that had carts and cheap, tasty food, but I've heard that they've closed as well. :( Does anyone know if this is true? (I know it doesn't help that I can't remember the name.)

I live near Queen and Spadina, so I'd love recommendations in Spadina chinatown if they exist. If not, I suppose we can travel.... ;)

Thanks!!!

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

Cha Liu
2352 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4P2E6, CA

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

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  1. I thought Bright Pearl had closed a while ago...has it reopened??

    Have you tried Sky Dragon, SW corner of Dundas/Spadina. I've never been, but understand it has carts dim sum...

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

    11 Replies
    1. re: T Long

      Maybe Bright Pearl has also closed since we went... it was a little while ago. Bright Pearl is the one with the lions at the corner of Spadina and St. Andrew, right?

      I haven't tried Sky Dragon. I always forget about them. Thanks so much for reminding me!

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

      St. Andrews Fish and Chips
      1589 Ellesmere Rd, Toronto, ON M1P2Y3, CA

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

      1. re: looz

        Correct on Bright Pearl's location...the lions faced onto St Andrew. It had closed early Sept 2010.

        1. re: T Long

          Wow! Maybe I went there before Yiu Wah disappeared?

          1. re: looz

            Wow, Bright Pearl closed!!!

            I preferred Rol San but I can't believe it.... all the good places in Chinatown closing!!

            Wahh don't even know where to get my roast duck!

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

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

            1. re: Chocaholic

              The place on Gerrard St. you referred to was probably either the Grand or the Pearl Court, both of which are still open I think. Actually we were planning on going to the Grand next week so I hope it's still open.

              1. re: terrycar

                I would love to know how your trip to the Grand goes. I've been wanting to try a dim sum place around East Chinatown plus cart service would be a big bonus!

                1. re: mingo.jones

                  I was at Pearl Court in east Chinatown a few months ago for Dim Sum. It actually was much bettter than it had been for a while! Try it. I haven't been to the Grannd for a long time, but it always looked so dreary and not quite clean. I will definitely go back to Pearl Court.

                  1. re: mingo.jones

                    Sorry mingo jones for the belated reply, but the grand was every bit as good as I remember. Try to get there around or before noon though, as there seems to be less selection after that for some reason.

                  2. re: terrycar

                    Ah! Pearl Court is the one we went to, I think. Glad to hear these are both still open! I feel like restaurants have been dropping like flies all around me.

                    1. re: looz

                      So it took a while, but we finally made it to Sky Dragon. It was exactly what I was looking for! Classic dim sum (in the sense that it reminded me of the dim sum of my Toronto childhood.) Food was fresh, tasty, not too greasy. While I didn't see things like chicken feet or tripe come by, it didn't have the "dumbed down for western palates" feel that Bright Pearl had. It's not the most refined dim sum you can get, but it's perfect for a casual Sunday brunch with friends. We'll definitely be going back!

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

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

                      1. re: looz

                        After wandering around Chinatown shaking our heads at the diminished dim sum offings (Bright Pearl closed, Yeuh Wah likewise, Forestview conditional pass, and Rol San with good food but no carts—we wanted carts) we headed to Sky Dragon for the first time in 17 years. We had had a bad experience there all those years ago, but things change, right? Well, long story short, things haven't changed at all. The decor was shabby and messy with litter all over the floor and dirty dishes piling up everywhere. The service was indifferent, and the food ... Oh the food! Beyond the mere ordinariness if the menu, it was sub-par in execution topped off with the worst har gow I've ever had the displeasure to consume. There were four of them stuck together in the steamer, and they disintigrated on separation. The dough was tough yet weak, while the shrimp was tasteless. Nasty, nasty, nasty.

                        Recommendation: give it a try in 2028.

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

        2. We've been going to Pearl Court for years. The dim sum is inexpensive (even cheaper in off hours) and reasonable (to my taste) for the price. Standards like har gow and siu mai are dependable. The rice noodles for the cheung fun are just the right thickness. The nor my guy is nicely perfumed from the lotus leaf and doesn't come with tons of pork fat like some versions. You can pass on some of the deep fried stuff, which can get a bit greasy. But the rest of it is unpretentious and satisfying.

          -John

          4 Replies
          1. re: Dr. John

            I'm pretty sure both Rol San and Bright Pearl are closed.Tried to go for lucnch last week. :(

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

            1. re: petek

              Bright Pearl closed last September 2010, but I was surprised to hear that Rol San may have closed. So I just called their listed telephone number. They answered and said they are open until 2 AM. Perhaps news of their demise is premature!

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

              1. re: T Long

                Good to hear Rol San is open again.Maybe it was just closed for some renos.

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

            2. re: Dr. John

              We went to Pearl Court last week, the first time back in the old hood in three or four years & the dim sum was excellent-probably the best we've ever had there. And it looks like the Grand has gone dead pool with paper on the windodws.

            3. In a similar vein, Forestview on the north side of Dundas across from Yiu Wah has carts (or it did a year ago when I last visited) as does New Treasure at Dundas & Elizabeth. And the Pearl down at Harbourfront has cart service tho it's not cheap by any means.

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

              New Treasure Restaurant
              150 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M5G1C6, CA

              3 Replies
              1. re: Herb

                I'M pretty sure the Grand on Gerrard closed as when I was over there recently it looked quite different.

                1. re: Herb

                  I thought Yiu Wah had closed...

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

                  1. re: chocabot

                    Yiu Wah has been closed since Feb 2010....more than a year ago!