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dim sum in downtown toronto?

we hail from san francisco originally then moved to boston where the dim sum offerings are slim. we're hoping to find excellent dim sum in toronto with the influx of hong kong natives. the difficulty is that we're only in town for 2 days and will be staying in downtown hitting the usual touristy places (kensington market, CN tower, eaton centre) so don't want to spend too much time driving far and getting lost.

the question then, is there VERY GOOD TO DIE FOR cantonese dim sum in the small area? there are some older postings which didn't produce any clear winners.... plus a restaurant's food can dramatically change in a couple of years.

decor is nice to have but we really rather have good food. noisy, messy, "typical" bad service doesn't bother us if the food is good

thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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  1. The best dim sum downtown is Lai Wah Heen. It's upscale and pricier relative to the noisy, cheap and cheerful dim sum joints, but the quality and variety are excellent.

    For a "regular" Chinatown dim sum spot, Rol San is probably your best bet.

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

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Oh, and I should point out that both are within walking distance of the places you mention. Lai Wah Heen is close to the Eaton Centre. Rol San is close to Kensington Market.

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

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

      1. re: TorontoJo

        Back in Toronto after a few months absence and tried the new location for Dynasty, which used to be an old standby when hungover. Deeply disappointing at the new locations. The sui mai were ok, the char siu plate was decidedly stingy, the rest of the outing was a bit dull, and the dumplings with dried prawn/peanuts etc were bloody awful. I notice in the thread that Lai Wah Heen is popular but I've tried it twice and found it a bit dull - dumpling menus miss the fun and adventure of yum cha. - tick the box food...er no. Give me trolleys of steaming or frying bits and pieces. While I haven't been there in a while, the Pearl down near the lake was pretty good when last visited.

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

      2. as TJo says, definitely Lai Wah Heen, dim sum just doesnt get much better than that in those parts, I must also register my surprise at your observation that the board does not produce a clear winner in this category, Lai Wah Heen is I believe a point of consensus here as far as downtown dim sum goes

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

        1. Very good?! Yes! eg Lai Wah Heen

          To Die For?! NO!!!!! Not in Toronto!

          In Hong Kong, may be?! ( see Dim Sum menu of Michelin 1* Yan Toh Heen and their signature ' Minced preserved wind dried assorted meat and shredded turnips puff' or their ' minced pea shot with fresh crab meat and black truffles dumpling' Then there's the 'Prawn patty topped with suckling piglet skin' at the Michelin 3* Sun Tung Lok or the super fluffy and oozing withsauce filling - 'Pineapple b-b-q pork buns' of the 1* Tim Ho Won ). IMHO, all these are 'to-die-for' or close to it!

          Elsewhere, the 'refinement' and 'sophistication' are just not there!

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

           
           
           
           
           
          1 Reply
          1. re: Charles Yu

            This would be a very useful post if they were going to Hong Kong. But they're not.

          2. Anyone know where I can find a VERY GOOD seafood soup dumpling `dim sum` (灌湯餃) in Toronto area like the one I had in the picture ? I had tried all the high end dim sum in Toronto area and cannot find one that is even close to average.

             
            3 Replies
            1. re: skylineR33

              Skyline: If you've not found it, it does not exist in Toronto.

              1. re: T Long

                T Long, I have found pretty good ones at Casa Imperial, Grand before. Even LWH has it before but it is more on the mild side, not bad, but they took it out their menu long time ago. It looks like they no longer can make good one in these past few years, disapppointed every time I order this dim sum dish, especially it is usually the most expensive item on the dim sum list. Really want to see a good version of this dish again in Toronto.

              2. re: skylineR33

                Even in Hong Kong, its a 'hit and miss' with this dish! Either the filling is not up to standard or the soup is poor! May be you need to head back to HK and try the new 'Tin Lung Heen' in the Ritz Carlton. Heard great thing about this new place!

              3. Lai Wah Heen is generally considered the best (and most expensive) dim sum restaurant in downtown Toronto. Charles is right that LWH’s dim sum is very good, though not to die for compared to Hong Kong’s best dim sum. Furthermore, Lai Wah Heen’s quality has dropped a bit in recent years. Regardless, LWH’s dim sum would be better than what’s available in San Francisco (e.g., Koi Palace, Yank Sing and Great Eastern).

                Rol San in Chinatown is good (to a lesser extent in that area, also Yiu Wah, Kowloon Seafood and Dim Sum, Golden Country restaurants). And maybe Dynasty Chinese Cuisine at Yorkville and Pearl Harbourfront at Queen’s Quay.

                Though not downtown, another dim sum restaurant worth eating at is close to Pearson Airport (i.e., if you’re not weighed down by luggage): Grand Chinese Cuisine restaurant at Double Tree Hilton hotel, Dixon Rd.

                Why Dim Sum is Better in Toronto Than in New York
                http://tinyurl.com/4ypjvv3

                3 Replies
                1. re: Tony8952

                  Yiu Wah on Dundas closed several years ago.

                  1. re: Tony8952

                    Yiu Wah closed February 2010...has it been reopened?? Also I have not heard the name Golden Country in years.... Kowloon Seafood's dim sum is a big drop in quality from Rol San's. For that quality, you might as well go to the New Treasure and its dim sum cart service in the basement at Elizabeth and Dundas....just steps from the famous LWH. Another contender for higher end dim sum (better decor, higher pricing) on a level with Dynasty and Pearl Harbourfront is the Crown Princess on Bay, a couple blocks south of Bloor. I'm one of those that doesn't think LWH is worth the extra dough....but it may still be the best in Toronto. (I just don't know for sure because I have not been there in years unlike others here)

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

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

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

                    1. re: Tony8952

                      Thanks for the comparison. Sounds like Lai Wah Heen should be one of my stops when I visit Toronto next week! I am from SF originally too (now living in NYC suburb) and I thought Koi Palace and Yank Sing are much better than the dim sums in NYC. But if Lai Wah Heen is even better, I must give it a try!