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Swatow's wonton mein

aser May 19, 2011 10:55 PM

Still holding the crown of Chinatown, with Goldstone and King's lagging far behind. It's been consistently good, whether it was a decade ago soaking up boozy nights to now, the best fast food in the city.

This is one of the most efficiently run restaurants in the city, like a synchronized colony of ants at work. I can be in and out the door in 20 minutes, without feeling rushed. Tonight my empty bowl sat on the table for 10 seconds before being picked up. My friend finished his a minute later, guess what, same thing happened. They're a well-oiled machine.

As to the bowl itself? The wontons are actually dainty, 2 bite wonders, no chuck e cheese skee ball action here. The shrimp only wonton (99.9% sure) is cooked well, retaining its crunchy texture. Beef brisket is simply awesome here, it retains a deep rich flavour even after soaking in the bowl till the very end. Broth has a darker colour akin to the defunct Big Joy (Richmond Hill), the interplay of pork, shrimp, fih compares well to the kings up north (big joy, jun jun). Topped with scallions (no yellowing chives) the noodles are light on the taste of kansui. It comes perfectly al dente, but will loose firmness after a few minutes. You cannot loaf once it arrives. Do not ask your girlfriend how her day was after you order. Keep your eye on the prize.

The staff always seems to be making small talk w/ their boss, with warm smiles on their face. This is one of the most efficiently run restaurants in the city, like a colony of ants. I can be in and out the door in 20 minutes, without feeling rushed.

I know folks clown on Swatow because it's a late night clubber hangout with your dose of frat boys and miniskirt girls all ordering their individual portioned plates. I've been consistently surprised at how good they maintain their standards for true Canto food (wall dishes) but still serve the gloopy sauced stuff to the gwailo. I like this duality at work here, their multi-market hustle.

  1. l
    littlelam Aug 5, 2011 07:06 AM

    Went for a quick bite at Swatow recently and remembered this post. Had the wonton noodles which were exactly as described by aser. Thanks!

    1. r
      randomthoughts Jun 12, 2011 12:19 AM

      Swatow is so hard for me to get to - I haven't been able to make it in years.

      One thing I really liked there is the 'special' soup. However, I could never figure out what the clear gelatinous yellow stick thing was in it. I don't always get it, but I like it! (It's probably something really gross, but hey, I'm eating organ meat soup.) Anyone know?

      My other favorite, though I'm not sure why (objectively, they overcook it a bit), is the boneless fried duck. It's like duck junk food. Mmm.

      309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: randomthoughts
        haggisdragon Jun 12, 2011 08:01 AM

        Sounds like a piece of tendon, yum.

        1. re: haggisdragon
          randomthoughts Jun 16, 2011 06:15 PM

          Ooh, thanks!

      2. a
        acd123 May 20, 2011 07:08 AM

        I was there for lunch on Tuesday. Got the shrimp dumpling noodle soup. I think there are mushrooms in the wonton as well as shrimp. They're really good.

        3 Replies
        1. re: acd123
          jennjen18 May 20, 2011 07:11 AM

          Now, dumplings are different than wontons...

          1. re: jennjen18
            acd123 May 20, 2011 07:20 AM


            1. re: acd123
              justto Jun 12, 2011 07:24 AM

              IIRC, Swatow's wonton noodle is made with a bit of pork/meat, while their shrimp dumpling nooldle is made with a bit of gingle and wood ear mushroom. If one is looking for a more traditional take of wonton noodle. I like Gourmet House (?) around the corner, their wonton noodle version is seasoned with a bit of dried pomfret.

              309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

        2. jennjen18 May 20, 2011 07:04 AM

          This has become my main go-to restaurant for me and my partner now .. Haha, he's in fact the mayor on four-square. :P Brisket is consistent. Always so tender, as opposed to Goldstone, where it's as tough as cardboard. However, I insist on order flat noodles as opposed to the mein so to avoid disappointment of wilty egg noodles. Their flat noodles are very silky smooth .. very hearty and warming. Their prices are higher than their neighbourhood counterparts, but its well worth the premium.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jennjen18
            T Long May 20, 2011 07:22 AM

            I thought the wonton noodles were ok...so-so when I last went, but the star dish seemed to be the beef brisket soup with rice noodles based on it being ordered by every other table. Made a mental note to order that the next time.

            1. re: T Long
              Charles Yu Jun 12, 2011 07:06 AM

              Just like to add a couple more things.
              In addition to the brisket, I always ask for a 'tendon' combo. Tender, lovely texture and nicely cooked. Also, I love adding a plate of the 'fried fish skin' to eat stand-alone or dunk into the soup! Take them out too! Better than your day to day potato chips whilst watching the NBA playoffs! Go Mavs Go!!! Ha!!

              1. re: Charles Yu
                petek Jun 12, 2011 10:36 AM

                I went to Swatow last week to try the brisket but didn't see it on the menu,so I asked our waiter about it and he said it was the "beef stew" in English.Whatever it was ,it was very tasty,but did we order the right dish?

                309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

          2. Splendid Wine Snob May 20, 2011 06:30 AM

            Yup you nailed it Aser. I've always said that if you know what to order, well you're in good hands.
            I've loved Swatow for over 15 years.

            309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

            1 Reply
            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob
              petek May 20, 2011 06:41 AM

              +1 for Swatow! Fast,efficient and very tasty,I love their pan fried dumplings and BBQ pork noodle soup Yum....

              309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

            2. y
              Yongeman May 20, 2011 04:25 AM

              Nice write-up, aser. I walked by the other day and remembered that it's been a while since I've been. Thanks for the motivation to revisit Swatow. Maybe this weekend...

              309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

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