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Apr 13, 2011 05:26 PM

Brilliant Chinese Restaurant - Different dishes, equally enjoyable!

My last meal at Brilliant, a couple of months ago, was delectable and extremely enjoyable.

Based on that, a number of foodie friends and relatives decided to pay them another visit. This time, with their ' supposedly best Peking Duck in town ' in our mind

In addition to there complimentary soup of the day ( pork shank with carrots, turnips and snow fungus ) and dessert ( double boiled papaya, almonds, red dates and snow fungus ), we ordered the following dishes:

1) - Peking duck two ways - Quality indeed was very high, with ultra crispy skin. Duck was surprisingly lean but still with plenty of meat. Pancake was excellent. The 'lettuce wrap' second course was 'brilliantly' executed with the end product totally greaseless and full of wok-hay. Just the right amount of sauce binded the diced veggie and duck together. Yummy!!!

2) - Pan seared Jumbo scallops with premium top soy. Wow! This must be the star of the evening! The exterior of the scallops were somehow cooked to be 'crispy' ( caramelization of sugar and soy? ) whilst the interior was moist, juicy and just perfect! In a way, reminds me of a similar dish I had at the Parisian Michelin 2*, Carre des Feuillants! Not bad!!

3) - Stirred fry filet of yellow fin Garoupa with yellowing chives. Again, great cooking technique was shown by the kitchen. Perfectly cooked fish with just the right amount of wok-hay aroma.

4) - Honey glazed jumbo oysters with minced garlic. A slight flop since too much honey were used rendering the morsels a bit too sweet. Also, I prefer the oysters to be a little bit crispy on the outside. IMO, the version at the 'Emperor' is much better.

5) - Steamed Dungeness crab with vintage ' Fa-Dew' rice wine, chicken fat on a bed of rice vermicelli. Crab was fresh and firm. Though pretty good, the version at Sam Woo Seafood a few years back was better. May be the Brilliant chef goes easy on the chicken fat due to health reason?! Ha!

6) - Fried pork chops with lemon grass, fish sauce and champagne. Most interesting aroma and taste. Very delicious. Something different than your ordinary run of the mill 'sweet and sour pork'! Ha!

Some of my friends chipped in on a fresh cream ' Cappucino and mango mousse cake' from Tokyo cake and pastry in Scarborough. Not too sweet, it paired great with the delicious and complex 'Gunderlock 2003 Riesling Spatlese'

The management gave us a 10% discount since a few of us know the manager in person. Overall bill comes to only $137!! excluding tax and tips. What a great deal for 6 people!!

Brilliant Chinese Restaurant
7220 Kennedy Rd, Markham, ON L3R0N4, CA

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  1. Thanks for that great review Charles - why is it that so much great food is so far north for us downtown dwellers - who don't have cars!

    1. Nice photos and review! How does the Peking duck compare to the Emperor Monday special? My parents are coming to visit and I'm trying to plan some great meals.

      P.S. Do you recommend Brilliant for dimsum?

      20 Replies
      1. re: mobirose

        Brilliant Dim Sum is actually pretty good! Menu has quite a lot of selection.
        Emperor's Monday duck special is $24.99 whilst the Brilliant 2 courses duck costs $10 more. However, quality and taste of Brilliant 2 courses are more superior. If you folks have time why not try both? In fact, try out the Sunday lobster special at Emperor and then head out to Brilliant on a week day.

        1. re: Charles Yu

          So many restaurants, so little time! I also want them to try the lobster at O'Mei I keep reading about...wish I had more stomachs.

          1. re: mobirose

            Yes! O'Mei Giant lobster 4 ways is a MUST!! Should impress your folks!
            Since you are in the area, the wok-hay stirred fry of Judy's Cuisine down the road in Time's Square is also top-notch. ( observe the perfect execution of the two attached dishes. Great wok-hay and perfect 'binding' gravy - not too thick, excessive or watery. I particularly love the free range chicken with shallots and fermentated black beans ).

            Have fun deciding!!

          2. re: Charles Yu

            As an aside:

            What are you suggesting as your top picks for Dim Sum in Toronto these days, (and perhaps, suggested outstanding dishes) Charles?

            1. re: Sadistick

              I haven't had Dim Sum in Toronto for quite a while, since early on the year, I spend over a month in Hong Kong. During that period I must have had dim sum lunches in over a dozen Michelin star calibre establishments. I think my dim sum palette is still spoiled by those experiences.
              However, prior to that, my favourite places were Lai Wah Heen, Lai Toh Heen, Casa Victoria and Yang's. I doubt the TO dim sum scene has changed a lot since?! For the dim sum landscape to improve, an influx of good dim sum chefs from the Orient is needed. However, with dining scenes booming in China and elsewhere in the Far East and establishments are willing to dish out top money to hire or retain great chefs, it will need something special for Toronto to lure some of these chefs over. For now, we have to settle for what we've got!

              As for outstanding dishes. Things are so inconsistent and changes so fast here in Toronto, by the time one decides to try them out, the chef might have moved?!

              Anyways, here are a few of my fav.,::

              - Stirred fried lobster with house special sauce - O Mei

              - Steamed minced pork patty with diced Chinese mushrooms, water chestnut and dried squid - O Mei

              - Any steamed whole fish with ginger, scallions and premium top soy - Maple Yip

              - Stirred fry lobster with minced garlic and shallots - Emperor

              - Stirred fry filet mignon cubes with house Teriyaki sauce and honey roasted walnuts - Emperor

              - Stirred fry free range chicken with shallots and fermented black beans - Judy's Cuisine

              - Stirred fried Chinese broccoli with Chinese preserved liver sausages and pork belly - John's B-B-Q

              - Cooked to order King of B-B-Q Pork - John's B-B-Q

              - Honey glazed pan fried jumbo oysters - Emperor.

              - Rose essence infused premium herbed soy free range chicken - Fantasy Eatery

              - Steamed Dungeness crab with vintage 'Fa-Dew' rice wine and chicken fat - Sam Woo Seafood

              - Peking Duck two ways - Brilliant Chinese Restaurant

              - Pan roasted jumbo scallops with premium top soy - Brilliant Chinese Restaurant.


              Have fun!!

              1. re: Charles Yu

                Thanks for the feedback, Charles.

                Casa Victoria is our current GoTo for Dim Sum when we are in the mood.

                Lately I have found LWH fairly mediocre and for the price point, not warranted.

                1. re: Charles Yu

                  What's the average price pp at Yang's or Casa Vicoria/Imperial for dimsum?

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Will have to try the Peking Duck at Brilliant one day.

                    Yang's version is pretty good too. Here is some pic of it. The first course have two types of meat, the center one are mainly skin whereas the one on the side are meat+skin.

                    1. re: skylineR33

                      I got a feeling Peking Duck in all our favourite spots like the Casa's, Emperor, Yang's, Brilliant, Grand, Ambassador even LWH are about the same??!!! Its like shopping for a car, be it Toyota, Honda, Nissan or Mazda. They all have their good points and bad points and because of competition, they are all about the same!!

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        I guess they can all make a good version of it. From my experience, I found the one which requires advance notice usually more juicy with better flavor.

                        1. re: skylineR33

                          Which places require advance notice?

                2. re: Charles Yu

                  Has anyone ordered Brilliant Dim Sum in the last month or so? Is it still a pretty good place to go?

                  1. re: prima

                    I asked the same thing a few days ago. We went and had a good meal. We had the Peking duck, which was excellent. It had crispy skin, juicy meat, nice pancakes and tasty sauce. The other dishes were good. We had thd shrimp with crispy fried milk, which I quite liked. The glutinous rice as a main dish was billed as a special but wasn't memorable. Overall we enjoyed our meal. My only complaint was that some of the dishes like the veggie ones had too much oil. I don't know if quality has gone down. I've never been there before so I can't compare.

                    1. re: merlot143

                      Thanks for the feedback, merlot143.

                      Was that an evening meal, if you ordered Peking Duck? The shrimp with crispy fried milk sounds interesting. I'm wondering if it's still a good place for midweek dim sum these days.

                      1. re: merlot143

                        We've had the glutinous rice stuffed chicken a few times, both before and after the chef change and it's not as good now as before.

                        Peking duck is still good as usual.

                        1. re: Royaljelly

                          Do you have to order the glutinous rice-stuffed chicken in advance? Is there any other stuff in the rice stuffing besides glutinous rice, or is it fairly plain sticky rice stuffed inside the chicken?

                          Glad the Peking Duck is still good.

                          1. re: prima

                            The glutinous rice chicken dish should be pre-ordered, as it takes them some preparation time. The first 2 times we had it before the chef change, the rice was complex and flavourful. I can't recall the exact ingredients. The last few times it was pale and bland. The chicken itself was about the same, still juicy and crispy. Even my non-chinese friend who loved it the first time, found the repeat post-chef visit to be lacking.

                            whoops, just realized I accidentally posted using my wife's account... time to get my own computer.


                            1. re: Iron Buddha

                              Thanks, RoyalJelly (and Iron Buddha) !

                3. i'm a little too lazy to use the search function.... so i'm just going to ask, does the duck require advance notice to order? thinking of going with a friend who has already been and enjoys it but not sure about the duck situation.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Charles, have you listed your top 10 (or thereabouts) Chinese restaurants in any other thread? If not, could I request that you do so. Your pictures alone are mouth-watering!

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Tony8952

                      In no particular order:

                      Brilliant Chinese Restaurant - Markham
                      Emperor - Richmond Hill
                      Yang's - Richmond Hill
                      O Mei - Richmond Hill
                      Judy's Cuisine - Richmond Hill
                      Maple Yip - Scarborough
                      John's B-B-Q - Richmond Hill
                      LWH/LTH - Downtown/Midtown
                      Northern Dumpling House - Richmond Hill

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Tried out Brilliant last week. Another great rec, Charles. We really enjoyed it.

                        We had the pork chop - very good value. The scallops were good as well.
                        We also had the chinese broccoli and beef.
                        In addition, we had the XO sauce pork neck meat/squid. This was very tasty and good value. Also had the shrimp with 'fried milk'.

                        We go to Judy's Cuisine a lot as well. But we find the portions have gotten lots smaller.
                        So good to find another new favourite since Brilliant is much closer to home.

                        1. re: caitlink

                          You are most welcome!!
                          When Winter comes around end of the year, you should give Brilliant's ' Mutton stew in clay pot' a try! Great tasting gravy and great value!
                          Only downside about Brilliant is the way they over-charge their lobster dish.

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Thank you Charles! I always like to read your posts.

                            Would you be able to tell me the Chinese name of "Brilliant Chinese Restaurant"?

                            1. re: dessertgal

                              I think it is 'Ying Wong' - Ying as in 'English'. It is on Kennedy and Denison where the CIBC and Burger King is.
                              After Charles' write-up, we went for dinner. We also now get our takeout dinners from there. 4 dishes including rice and soup for $31 tax included is a great deal.

                            2. re: Charles Yu

                              Charles, I heard a rumour that Brilliant's chef departed a couple of months ago. Any idea if this is true, and if so, whether the quality has changed at all? (I haven't tried it yet.)

                              1. re: ruminant

                                No, I have not! However, a while back I did have a less than impressive meal there. I beleive it was around Father's day. At that time, we all thought the drop in standard might be caused by the holiday traffic. Now, with your piece of news, we might think otherwise?!!!

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  I checked in with my co-worker for more details on the chef (apparently my co-worker's mother knows him). The chef departed a couple of months ago to work for T & T on Cherry Street.

                                  1. re: ruminant

                                    Perhaps, its not the head chef?
                                    i would be perplexed to know that the ex lai wah heen chef, now @ brilliant has left to work at T&T.

                                    1. re: plug

                                      Me too! As Spock says' Its illogical!! '

                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        ex Brilliant chef now works for T & T; ex LWH chef now at Brilliant.

                                        1. re: ace123

                                          Oh! Thanks ace123, that makes sense now. I will try them out in any case. Sorry for the confusion!

                                          1. re: ace123

                                            Heard the ex-LWH chef has moved on?!! No idea who the new chef is??!!

                        2. Charles, i was wondering if you could tell me roughly how much the peking duck costs at Brillant? I'm thinking of bring my family there for mother's day about a group of 10, i wanted to know a generally idea of how much it will be.

                          6 Replies
                              1. re: jenbunny

                                Yes, for 2 ways = $35
                                Had it on the weekend

                                1. re: plug

                                  Had dim sum at Brilliant today, it was really good and got a 10% off today! Is that normal? Instead of regular brunch .... was packed no seat. So that sort of worked out. And so much cheaper than dim sum at Emperor last week!

                                  1. re: Chocaholic

                                    I was there for dim sum today too.
                                    I think it's 15% or 20% off before 11 am and 10% after 11am.

                                    1. re: ace123

                                      I find that when we go there, even at dinner time, wait staff will always offer 10% if we pay in cash. And we are not 'known' regulars. Service is always courteous, whether we dine in or order take-out.