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Do you have a favourite restaurant in Chinatown?

I will be visiting Toronto next month. During my annual visits to Toronto I usually head down Dundas starting at Yonge and ending at McCaul. However when I was in town last summer I decided to venture further west and was overwhelmed by the number of stores and restaurants around Dundas and Spadina. During that visit to Chinatown I was mostly there for an afternoon shopping trip but would love to go back this time for a dinner out. Does anyone have any favourite restaurants in that area? I usually eat at Spadina Gardens on Dundas near Bay but would love to try somewhere new this time... Is there anything chow worthy near Dundas and Spadina? I do not have any food allergies or dislikes and I am not terribly concerned about price so I am open to just about anything.

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    1. I always end up at Lee Garden on Spadina (#331). If you go, try the fried squid (calamari)- yummy! There is often a wait at dinner time but the line goes pretty quickly.

      1. Swatow for cheap & cheerful(great soups and "wok hay" dishes)
        Lee Garden for something more "formal"(for lack of a better word)

        1. another vote for Swatow

          1. Echoing both Swatow (noodles & soups), and Lee Garden recs. I also enjoyed my recent meal at Taste of China.

            1. Wow thanks everyone for the response! I can see I have alot of eating to do-;) Although I live in Ottawa I visit Toronto once a year (this time will be my second visit) so I will keep this thread in mind for future visits. I love visiting Toronto BTW - lots of nice foodie things to do.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                There's no need to trek along Dundas St. from Yonge St. to the Chinatown near Dundas and Spadina. About a block from your regular stop at Spadina Gardens, there's Yueh Tung, on the west side of Elizabeth St. just south of Dundas St., in Toronto's now-decimated original 1950s Chinatown. Yueh Tung is on the second floor, and though its dining room is rather utilitarian, its food is pretty damn good. It presumably specializes in Hakka cuisine, but, like many downtown Chinese restos, its menu - you can find it online - touches on a lot of familiar Chinese cuisine styles. Mobbed at lunch with local office workers - the lunch menu is mighty tasty (and inexpensive) - more relaxed at dinner time. First-rate hot and sour soup. I've been going almost exclusively, when I'm downtown at lunch or dinner time and hankering for Chinese, for about 30 years. So I'm no longer in a position to compare it to the Dundas-Spadina restos listed above. But if any of them rise above Yueh Tung in quality (and good value), I'd be surprised. (I gave up on Lee Garden, which seems way past its prime, years ago.) Swatow is kinda fun, though. Yueh Tung has been around a long, long time, so it must be doing something right.

                1. re: juno

                  I concur with Yueh Tung, especially for their lunch specials. However, my one time going for dinner (years ago) was not that memorable. I think the spectrum of chinese foods covered by Yueh Tung, Swatow, and Lee Garden (only open for dinner) is quite broad and there is value in trying out all 3 places if that's possible.

                  1. re: juno

                    A classic. Yueh Tung to me just has an old-skule charm. Love that big chinoise-y room with its warm lighting and the comfort foods, even if they are on the salty side.

                2. Another one for Swatow.

                  Dumplings- Yummy yummy Dumplings on Huron

                  1. I'd go to kinton ramen on Baldwin street, very close to chinatown

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: szw

                      szw..what's their best ramen? going for lunch soon(never had real ramen)

                      1. re: petek

                        sansotei's tonkotsu is probably the best option in town for now.

                        as to my c-town favs?

                        Taste of China

                        1. re: aser

                          Thanks aser! That was the other ramen joint I was trying to remember(gotta write this stuff down) I'll check them both out +Momofuku.

                    2. Still like the wonton noodle soup at House of Gourmet on Dundas just east of Spadina, north side.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Kagemusha

                        I agree with you Kagemusha and most of their other food is good too. I have taken friends from China there and they say it is pretty authentic, taking into account that it is in Toronto!

                        1. re: AzulH

                          The wontons at house of gourmet have an overworked shrimp texture, a bit too pasted. I much prefer the wontons at Swatow. The soup is sweeter at Swatow, which some people dislike.

                          The Singapore turnip cakes there are pretty good though.

                          1. re: aser

                            Was at HofG last weekend and the wonton were almost har gow-like, plump with chunks of shrimp--not the pink rubbery slurry found elsewhere. Despite a slightly tacky exterior, the inside is updated and roomy. Fast service, decent prices.

                        2. re: Kagemusha

                          +1 to HoG -- for their variety, late night hours, and efficient staff.

                        3. Thanks everyone for the restaurant recommendations! My trip to Toronto was last weekend to take in the Grey Cup festivities and to sample some new restaurants.

                          I arrived last Thursday and spent the afternoon shopping in Chinatown then dinner after. I ended up dining at Lee Garden and chose the "dinner for one" option on the specials board. I started with the shrimp wonton soup which was very good then the fried squid which was awesome. Thanks to elasticwaistband for the suggestion! Dessert was included and consisted of a banana in a caramel-type sauce although I might be mistaken on that. Whatever it was the sauce was too sweet but I'm not a big dessert eater anyways.

                          Friday night was spent at a Grey Cup party which was disappointing. Lobster rolls were available for $10 each and no sides available. Not even a coleslaw or potato salad or chips. And the filling consisted of mostly mayo with little bits of lobster in it.

                          Saturday night I more than made up for it with a long overdue visit to The Gabardine. They are open Saturday nights now. I ordered the elk terrine from the specials menu then the mac 'n cheese from the main menu. I enjoyed the terrine very much and it was served with a lovely apricot chutney. The mac 'n cheese was lovely but mostly white sauce when I would have expected more cheese. I was too full for dessert.

                          Sunday night I watched the game at the Queen and Beaver. I got there early and ordered a scotch egg while watching the pregame show then ordered the roast beef dinner from the specials board to dine on while watching the game. The roast beef was a real hit! It was served medium rare just the way I like it. I live in Ottawa and my one complaint about the meat served here (roast beef, steaks, hamburgers, and the like) are all over cooked so I appreciated getting meat cooked the way I like it. It came with a lovely yorkshire pudding and flavourful roast potatoes. Beans and carrots were served on the side but slightly overcooked for my taste. I ordered a cheese board for dessert which came with a rather large piece of stilton and some oat cakes. I enjoyed every morsel of it.

                          Thanks again everyone for the suggestions. I look forward to many more trips to Chinatown (and other restos in town) on future trips to Toronto. The reviews and comments on this board are always helpful in assisting me plan my foodie trips to Toronto.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                            No doubt about it I loooove hong shing: I drive all the way from Vaughan just to eat there...lol.

                            And they're open till 6am!


                          2. I am bumping this up in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Toronto. I made this request last year and have it bookmarked since there are a number of places on this list I would like to try. However I am trying to remember the names of two ramen places I passed while I was out and about in Toronto last year. One of them is on Dundas - near University I think - and it might be called Sensei or Sansotei or something like that. Does anyone know which resto I might be thinking of? And the other one is on the main floor of the Shangri-La hotel - does anyone remember the name? I would be eternally gratefull for your help-;) Also any feedback, criticism, etc. would be nice...

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                              Sansotei is the ramen place on Dundas. Momofuku Noodle Bar is the place in the Shangri-La hotel.

                              If you want good ramen that you don't have to line up for, go to Raijin.

                              1. re: TorontoJo

                                Thanks TorontoJo - those are just the places I was trying to remember! I remember the line-ups outside Sansotei so the Raijin recommendation is much appreciated!

                                1. re: ottawaoperadiva

                                  There is also santouka at church/dundas. Surprisingly the lineups there have been less than sansotei...maybe due to slightly less convenient location? Last 3 times I've passed by sansotei with a lineup and ended up at santouka with no lineup.

                              2. re: ottawaoperadiva

                                Momofuku is the one in the Shangrila hotel. You might have heard of it ;}

                                1. re: MissBingBing

                                  MissBingBing good one-;) I have in fact heard of it-;) In fact I remembered the name of the chef, the cookbook, and that it originated in New York - the only missing link was the name of the resto. Thanks!

                              3. Apart from comfort food such as soup noodles from Swatow, why bother with 'sub-par' Chinese food in this area?! Lots of land mines!!
                                Good Ramen places are sprouting up in this area! Sansotei being one of them. Much safer and consistent!
                                However, my favorite is 'Torito's'! One of the best Spanish tapas place in town! Surprise after 27 replies, no one mentioned it??!!

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Neither Torito or Sansotei are in Chinatown. Close by, perhaps.

                                  1. re: MissBingBing

                                    ??? Pardon my ignorance? BUt, what is the official definition of China Town?? Where are the boundaries? Torito is next to Kensington Market a short walk across from Swatow on Spadina! To me that's within the borders??!! According to your interpretation then, Swatow and New Sky..etc shouldn't be on the list? Weird?!! Is this Richmond Hiller missing something here??

                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                      Torito is to Chinatown (Spadina) like Casa Imperial is to Markham....close enough I guess, but technically not part of.... But Sansotei could be considered to be in "old" Chinatown or as some call it the "original" Chinatown.

                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                        I think Torito could be considered Chinatown -- if there wasn't already a distinct neighbourhood in which it is located (it is in Kensington Market, not next to it). Swatow and New Sky are right on Spadina, which is one of the main arteries of Chinatown.

                                        1. re: ramenramen

                                          Thanks for the info., I guess when it comes to good food, a couple more minutes walk won't make much difference to me!!

                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                            I'm with Charles on this one - where are Chinatown's borders anyway? I always thought it ran (loosely) along Dundas from Yonge to just past Spadina but spilling over onto some of the streets just off Dundas. Anything remotely Asian within the area is good enough for me and I have now learned about a couple of new places. Dinner in Chinatown is tonight so I will keep you posted on where I end up.

                                            In the meantime I just forked out an inordinate amount of my disposable income at Spice Traders. I wish I had two stomachs so I could eat my way from one end of Toronto to the other-;) I guess I will just have to come and visit more often...