ISO Shark Fin Soup
It looks like Toronto is very close to an outright ban on the sale of shark fin and I would love to have it one last time in the city. Problem is, I've only enjoyed it during Chinese weddings as part of an 8-course meal. I would prefer (rather, could only afford) just the soup course. While there are certainly other preparations of shark fin (I think Lai Wah Heen had dumplings once with it), the soup is what I'm craving.
I've searched the board and the only place I could find was Shark's Fin City in Pacific Mall. Is that the only decent option? Any other recs (ideally in Toronto)?
Of course, the Toronto ban would not apply to Markham or Richmond Hill, but if Mississauga has successfully passed the ban, other jurisdictions may follow swiftly.
For more details about the ban, see here:
Shark Fin by itself is very neutral in taste. As such, for good shark fin, one needs to identify restaurants that are willing to put an effort in making top notch 'Shan Tong' broth.
Almost all decent Chinese restaurants in the GTA offer shark fin soup as a stand alone dish. Ranging from the mid-teens to over $50+ a bowl, depending on the size and weight of the fins. Some of the notable ones include the big establishments like Casa Imperial/Victoria, Emperor, Yang's, O'Mei, Ambassador, Golden Court, Regal16, Dragon Boat, Spring Villa, Dragon Dynasty, Sam Woo Seafood...etc to smaller outfits like John's B-B-Q and Judy's Cuisine.
Of the aforementioned list, I prefer the two Casa's and Regal 16 the most, since their broth, using Chinese ham hocks, boiling hens, pork bones, conpoy as base, tasted the most authentic ( compare to top Hong Kong establishments )..
Most disappointing version was O'Mei since I found their broth kind of 'funny' tasting?!
Maybe o'mei will be willing to do buddha jump's over wall w/o shark's fin as a special order. Since there is so much in the soup itself, leaving out shark's fin wouldn't change it much. Or you can have 碗仔翅, the fake street food version.
Besides the show of wealth, Chinese people do value texture highly in food. That is part of its appeal. At its best, the dish should be very far from bland. The stock should feel deep, rich, luxurious, a wonderful dose of umami.
Personally? I loved this dish as a kid, having been dragged to many a banquets during my formative years. Nowadays, while still very tasty, I've decided to abstain until a more regulated fishery can be put in place. A false hope perhaps......
One major reason why I dislike O'Mei's version of Shark Fin and Buddha jump wall was their strange tasting Shan Tong Stock. Somehow, its lacking something?! May be insufficient use of Chinese ham? Otherwise, the generous ingredients used is definitely good value for money.
@Snarf I recalled having double boiled whole winter melon soup in both Maple Yip and Yang's. Both establishments used a very decent tasty Shan Tong stock as base.
re: Charles Yu
Having had this many times at Ambassador, I feel it's the best I've had, but perhaps it's what I'm used to.
That said, I think it's a highly over-rated dish. I would much prefer a good hot and sour, as I find shark's fin to be overly bland, and have to add a lot of vinegar to spice it up. The impression I get from my wife's family and friends is it's a dish you order to show off, since it's quite expensive, hence the almost ubiquitous appearance at weddings, important birthdays, etc.
Thanks all for the recs. I've been meaning to check out Casa Imperial for a while so this would be a great opportunity.