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Sep 11, 2011 10:02 AM

Best Sichuan and Hunan in GTA?

What, in the opinion of chowhounds, is the best Sichuan and Hunan in the GTA? I have tried some downtown offerings and have never been impressed, always feeling I could do better at home.

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  1. Bump bump!

    I love the hot numbing effect of Sichuan and the pound you in the face heat of Hunanese (not to mention the preserved peppers often featured).

    Vancouver does a fine job in both of these areas, but where do I feed the beast in Toronto?

    Totally willing to go out to the 'burbs.

    1. Back in the day my fave go-to spots for serious heat transfer were both on the west side of Spadina: Young Lok & Paul's Deep Sea Shantung (sp?)

      Still miss them and haven't found anything that comes close


      8 Replies
      1. re: toronto guy

        I also recall Paul's - probably Toronto's first Sichuan joint - now sadly enveloped in the mists of time. But if the OP is prepared to travel from downtown, there's now Ba Shu Ren Jia, on Steeles Ave. E., just west of Midland, guaranteed to set your mouth aflame. And, though I haven't been there in awhile, there's also Hot Spicy Spicy, on the back end of an all-Asian plaza on the northeast corner of Leslie St. and Finch Ave., which certainly lives up to its name - it's powerful hot. Both are quite a hike from downtown, though Hot Spicy Spicy is closer. I lean to Ba Shu Ren Jia, but neither place eases off on the heat to accommodate Western palates. You'll emerge with a definite sweat on.

        Seems to me this question has been asked before. You should be able to track down other suggestions on previous threads.

        1. re: juno

          Other threads were surprisingly unhelpful. Is this the Bashu of which you speak?

          If so, it looks legitimate. Are there any dishes you'd recommend there?

          1. re: EverymanJack

            Yes, that's the one. There are two Bashus - I note that the name on the website of the small chain has changed somewhat. I knoweth not when they lopped off the "Ren Jia" part. I'm only familiar with the one on Steeles Ave. E. I recall enjoying the lamb soup in pot (a quite substantial dish) a few months ago, and the shredded pork with spicy sauce. Can't remember any other dishes, but then, their menus seem to change every now and then, leaving me behind. A wonderfully spicy shrimp dish is long gone (unless they've changed the name, which seems possible). I find when I'm unsure what to order first time in a Chinese restaurant, I seek out a table of what seem to be regulars and ask for advice - making clear, in a Sichuan joint, that I'm not shy about hot, hot, hot. They're invariably delighted to share the names of their favourite dishes. Never a problem speaking English with patrons in such circumstances.

        2. re: toronto guy

          <Paul's Deep Sea Shantung >
          Agree 100%,miss it bad.. :(
          I remember it being on the north side of Dundas(If memory serves me correctly)

          1. re: petek

            Yep..Paul's use to be on the north side of dundas...a block or 2 east of Spadina, then he moved to the that big building a block north of dundas on the west side of spadina...the one with the lions out front... a bit of a graveyard for restos...miss him big time....It was favoured for me over Pete's Chungking..

            1. re: tojoe

              Somebody said on CH a year or so ago that Paul is still alive and living in Etobicoke as I recall. Famous for Hot, Hotter and Bloody Hot.

              1. re: Herne

                I think I said Mississauga - but that's not helpful anyway!

                And Shangtung was the first Sichuan place I was aware of - Paul took it over when it went bankrupt and 'moved' his Deep Sea there from Queen St.

                But to stay on topic - isn't Bashu the one mentioned by Chris Nuttall-Smith?
                Wasn't The Old Place ( Sheppard and Glen Watford ) mentioned as an alternative? Has anybody tried both?

                1. re: estufarian

                  I need to do a thorough investigation of the restaurants on Glen Watford. It appears to be the Ossington of the east.

        3. I still refer to this very old thread as my Sichuan/Hunan bible. I've had great meals at Szechuan Legend and Hot Spicy Spicy and, most recently, at Konner Chinese (Hunanese cuisine) on Midland just north of Finch.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Tatai

            It has been a couple years since a side by side comparison, but I prefer Szechuan Legend over Bashu.

            1. re: JonasBrand

              Konner was getting a lot of love a year or so ago. It is not far from Ba Shu Ren Jia, but is Hunan. I tried to go on a Saturday evening and was turned off by the lineup out the door at 6 pm. We wound up at Ba Shu Ren Jia which had a shorter lineup. Food there was good, but we've been meaning to get back to Konner. Hasn't happened since we don't live in the GTA.

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                I have a friend who is from Hunan - he recommended Konner to me.

                1. re: garfield

                  I did like Konner a lot! Haven't been in a whlie. Should go back :)

                  1. re: jlunar

                    Make an order at NCIX and pick it up across the parking lot. That was always my excuse for going there :)

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. Bumping this thread.

              I'm specifically looking for a terrific Ma Po Dou Fu and figured this thread would be a good source of info.

              Any additions or comments on the recommendations above?

              4 Replies
              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Another bump. Did you find a great version somewhere?

                1. re: FrenchSoda

                  No I didn't FS...sadly. Hopefully someone will post w your latest bump.

                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                  Our favourite version is at Chinese Dumpling House on Commerce Valley at Hwy 7. We like it a lot overall although others on CH favour Northern Dumpling at Times Square.

                  We like this one for the Ma Po Tofu. It is very spicy and very 'ma'/sesame. Goes great with rice. The original location is at MetroSquare. But we find this location is more spacious and the food more tasty.

                  There are 3 or 4 dumpling places in the same plaza. We like this one the best.

                  1. re: caitlink

                    Thanks! I've been looking for a good version, I look forward to trying this one out.