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best Chinese south of Eglinton?

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So I have seen the myriad posts discussing the comparative strengths/weakness of O Mei and the (apparently) dozens of other spots out in suburbs. But what I am having a bit more trouble locating are the discussions of the best Chinese restaurants that are centrally located, which is an important consideration for those of us w/o access to cars. All the great Cantonese restaurants in the world don't mean a thing if I can't get to them on any kind of regular basis!

So I put it to you: are there specific restaurants of note in, for instance, the Spadina/Dundas Chinatown? Or the one on Gerrard? I know about Lai Wah Heen, but am curious what else is out there -- e.g., any great, not overly Westernized take out or delivery operations for a mid-week dinner? (Extra points if close to St Clair & Yonge...) I know these might not be as good as the ones out in the burbs, but presumably there must be better than moo goo gai pan and fried rice in the city proper!

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

O Mei
248 Steeles Ave W, Thornhill, ON L4J1A1, CA

St Clair Restaurant
69 St Clair St, Chatham, ON N7L3H8, CA

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  1. I think there have been some discussions....peruse some of the links below... I think most of the usual suspects are mentioned. As far as the Eglinton/St Clair Yonge vicinity, Lai Toh Heen, LW Heen's sister restaurant has just announced its intentions to close. I have C'est Bon on my list to try, but I understand it's a "Westernized" version. Other than those, nothing else comes to mind in this area. Most of my acquaintances associate good Chinese food in your area with the Mandarin Buffet....

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/801275

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/99282

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778827

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/739620

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7990...

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/718836

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    C'est Bon
    2685 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4N2H8, CA

    Lai Toh Heen
    692 Mt Pleasant Rd, Toronto, ON M4S, CA

    6 Replies
    1. re: T Long

      thanks for the links. i'd seen some of them, but was hoping for more in depth discussion rather than the "i ate here and liked it" notes. (other than dim sum -- a good bit of which is about whether there is any worthwhile dim sum downtown at all.) from the sounds of it, toronto's reputation for great chinese may be exaggerated, at least when it comes to the city proper rather than the outlying suburbs.

      1. re: autopi

        I am afraid what you are saying is right. This also happens in the suburb area as you can see we are getting more and more HK style cafe (Cha Chan Tang) with mediocre quality across the board serving more or less same kind of food, and those 'better' quality Chinese restaurants closed down or going downhill...sad.

        1. re: autopi

          It is what it is. But having lived in Chinese food backwaters like Alberta and Ottawa, I absolutely appreciate what Toronto has to offer in Chinese cuisine. I think any city core that has a LWH, a Lee Garden, a Mother's Dumplings, an E-pan, a Taste of China, a Rol San, etc. would satisfy many if not most Cantonese food lovers and would still rival that of any other city core in North America. The fact that the suburbs have even more selection and other very good places is a bonus. Not as collectively good as HK or China?....very likely and not a surprise, but for me I'm not going there any time soon, and it wouldn't be for the food anyways....

          1. re: T Long

            i tried mother's dumplings and thought they were pretty good; i'm thrilled to have a dumpling house nearby. can you recommend anything in particular at e-pan, taste of china or rol san? any thoughts on swatow? i'm just trying to get a CH's sense of things as a guide for my own explorations...

            1. re: autopi

              I don't have favorite dishes to recommend at these places as it's a long time between visits for me. I generally take my chances with the menus. However one of the attraction of these places is their consistency over time, something we don't see as much in the suburbs (that's where I live and eat out most often)....I think that's partly because in downtown most of them are "family" owned and operated businesses. I do like the lunch specials at E-pan and they often have tempting items posted on the walls. Rol San is strictly a dim sum stop for me. I included LWH only as most everyone keeps saying its the best, but it's been over 5 years since I've been (finding it too pricey). I've only been to Swatow the one time....it was OK, will have the brisket and rice noodle soup if I go again. Another stop for me in Spadina Chinatown has been Pho Pasteur, but that's a Vietnamese place.

              1. re: autopi

                Swatow: Special Noodles (that's what they call it) and shrimp dumpling soup. Stick to noodle dishes :}

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                Swatow
                309 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2E6, CA

        2. Went to LWH in May and June. The cooking had gone way downhill. And they also changed the menu to regular main stream dishes. Very disappointed. Could taste the baking soda in beef tenderloin. For the money they charge, not worth going.

          1 Reply
          1. re: smfan

            baking soda in beef tenderloin happens when they change the chef which was 2 years ago. But I am not sure if they change the chef again ...