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Best Chinatown eats?

Hey Chowhound. I live near Baldwin and Spadina for school and I'm looking for some good, relatively inexpensive restaurants in the area. There are a ton of options but they all tend to blur together when you don't know what you're looking at, and so far all I've done for research is skim through Yelp ratings. Any specific recs?

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  1. Yummy Yummy Dumplings on Huron just North of Dundas is delicious and cheap.

    And you're not far from Banh Mi Boys (Queen and Spadina) which is one of my favourite cheap and cheerful spots in the city. It's all good, but my favourites are the kimchi fries, fried chicken bao and squid taco.

    2 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      +1 for those two options.

      if you're in the mood for italian, strada 241 is on par pricing wise with most of the more low-key places (ie. terroni) but i'd say the quality is significantly higher and portion better when you eat in (the take-out soup was probably 2/3 of what i've had for dine-in). the front half is a casual cafe.

      one hour cafe on spadina is a nice choice to chill out, do work, and eat a little northern asian food.

      1. re: TorontoJo

        I actually prefer regular bahn mi's ...bring them home, toast them up. So cheap but tasty. There are two stores side by side, go to the one on the right.

      2. Swatow, Chinese Traditional Buns, King's Noodle, Dim Sum King weekdays.

        1. You are walking distance of lots of delicious and cheap eats. My 5 top picks within a block of Spadina and Baldwin:
          Mother's Dumplings
          Anh Dao - my favourite pho in the city
          Swatow
          Dumpling House
          KaChi - pork bone soup

          Kensington Market a number of spots that fit the bill. Explore!

            1. Rotisserie chicken from Sanagan's in Kensington Market. Better than Swiss Chalet and yet almost the same price or cheaper.

              1. Dumpling Noodle Soup - Swatow or my favourite House of Gourmet

                Chinese dinner - New Sky and E-pan with edge to New Sky

                Dim Sum - Rol San

                BBQ Pork on rice - Kom Jug Yuen

                Tacos - 7 lives

                Burritos - Big Fat Burritos

                You could fill up very cheaply on bbq pork buns from the bakeries : )

                1 Reply
                1. re: justsayn

                  King's Noodle has a very tender beef brisket noodle soup for under $5. Great value.
                  Swatow for dumpling noodle soup.
                  Nakwon for Korean.

                2. Rol San for Buddha's Feast rice flour roll (during dim sum hours).
                  E-Pan.

                  1. Golden Stone (Spadina near Dundas, West side) for congee, beef and potato yellow curry on rice, beef and tofu on rice. My spouse loves them all, I used to as well when I was eating omnivore style. My spouse still eats a whole cha siu (bbq pork) plate nearly by himself, now helped by his daughter however you can get that on rice.
                    All the "on rice" dishes are very filling and less than entree prices.
                    Fast and large portions.
                    I started eating there in 1991 (when I was at UofT), same owner and many of the same wait staff.
                    Recipe's are exactly the same for the staples we order.
                    Their wonton or soy gau mien noodle soup hits the spot for late night snack.

                    Also, Pho Hung used to be a favourite on Bloor near the ROM. Can anyone comment if the Pho Hung on Spadina is similarly priced and same quality? I think their menu is different from the one on Bloor from what I recall.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Idas

                      I think Golden Stone is Gold Stone? - I still like their bbq and some of their dishes but I have found the noodle dumpling soup to have gone downhill and not nearly as good as House of Gourmet.

                      1. re: Idas

                        same menu. the one on bloor is closed. the quality at the Spadina location was always better

                      2. My favourite in chinatown is actually on dundas, east of spadina. Its on the north side...I don't know the name of it....I'll post if I remember. Like everywhere else, they have cheap tea time and lunch time specials. But their food is pretty decent by chinatown standards.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: szw

                          Is it upstairs and large? Soup station in one window and bbq in other window? That would be House of Gourmet. Amazing fresh made soup dumplings.

                          1. re: justsayn

                            Thats the one! Slightly poorer version of congee queen/congee wong/keung's delight IMO, but its my choice for chinatown.

                            Soup dumplings aren't something I would normally try in that kind of restaurant, but i may give them a shot.

                            1. re: szw

                              Oh good. Glad it is the same one.

                              I think I may have described the dumpling wrong based on your response. To be clear, I mean shrimp dumplings and shrimp wonton in soup, not dim dum dumplings with soup inside. I don't think they serve any dim sum so I agree it would be strange.

                              These are great shrimp dumplings! And delicious perfect noodles IMO.

                              1. re: justsayn

                                szw, justsayin: any specific recommendations to try at House of Gourmet, other than the wontons mentioned above? I've walked by this place many times but wouldn't have thought to go in. Might try to drop by next week. Thanks in advance!

                                1. re: littlelam

                                  It's one of the few (if not the only) place in Chinatown that serves Singapore-style turnip cakes (lo bak), which is one of my favourite dishes.

                                  1. re: Sagesse

                                    Yeah this is my favourite dish in the world (not at House of Gourmet). Its okay there, but not as good as Congee Wong's version.

                                    They also serve it at a restaurant on spadina, on the west side...forgot the name now. Anyways, it sucks there.

                                  2. re: littlelam

                                    I have tried a couple of dishes that I don't remember - because I found them to be greasy. I hesitate to critique them for that as it is common for chinese dishes to be greasier than I prefer. I don't like to see or feel obvious grease with chinese food. That is one of the reasons why I like New Sky so much. They use fresh oil and limit it as much as possible.

                                    I've tried various places recommended on CHound that I just can't enjoy because of my aversion to greasy chinese food.

                                    So for House Of Gourmet, all I know is their awesome dumplings, noodle and soup. Sorry.

                                    1. re: justsayn

                                      I tried their wonton noodle soup today and I'm sad to say that if I was judging the place solely on this dish, I wouldn't go back. The broth was pretty tasteless and the wontons were oversized and oversalted. It's better executed at Swatow.

                                      Luckily, I'm really interested in this Singapore-style turnip cake dish so I'll be back there soon!

                                      1. re: littlelam

                                        SO sorry to hear that : (

                                        I would never think to describe it the way you have. Tasteless soup and salty wontons. SO much the opposite for me.

                                        I know it comes down to people's preferences, and ours are different, but I am hoping that was just a bad day if you ever end up trying it again. As far as size is concerned that is purely a personal thing of course.

                                        1. re: littlelam

                                          Also, we get their shrimp wonton and dumpling noodle soup. I like both the dumpling and the wontons with a slight nod to the wonton. The noodles have such a great earthy flavour and maybe they add to the soup?

                              1. re: ekim256

                                +1 for Kom Jug (welcome back e!)

                                +1 for House of Gourmet (i'm here a lot because it's cheap, easy to get a seat and most of the dishes are pretty decent. i like their roast pork better than the other places i've tried in chinatown)

                                +1 for Chinese Traditional Buns (chinese hamburger!)

                                1. re: ggom1

                                  I think Kom Jug makes the best Singapore noodles in ChinaTown. Get them every time I pass by. As a place to eat-in it might be less than the best.

                                2. re: ekim256

                                  I heard Kom Jug Yuen was sold about a year ago. Quality down, prices up.

                                  1. re: MissBingBing

                                    It was sold but I honestly have not noticed any difference in the bbq pork since the new owners. For me the pork was already not up to par long before they sold. There was once a nice subtle smoky flavour that disappeared one day and never came back...

                                    That being said, I think it is excellent. I don't like too much of the 5 spice flavouring that some other places use a lot of. Maybe that is a regional difference from China, I am clear on those differences.

                                3. Which tofu and/or veg dishes do Hounds recommend the most in Chinatown? I don't mind if there's a meat/seafood component, but I'd prefer that the veg or tofu take the starring role.

                                  Also, where would you suggest for dai dop voy or sweet & sour chicken balls? Seriously. :-)

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: prima

                                    Love the king mushroom and Japanese tofu dish at New Sky.

                                    They also have a hot pot style tofu with veggies that comes with 3 or 4 different mushrooms, standard fried tofu squares and various other veggies.

                                    Both of these dishes go perfectly with their chili oil on the table. They have the best chili oil as it is complete with fried onions.

                                    1. re: justsayn

                                      Thanks, justsayn. I tried a mushroom and tofu dish at E Pan years ago, but have never gotten around to trying New Sky.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        Both dishes I mentioned are subtly seasoned, but the textures and individual veggie flavours are so gooooood.

                                        Mixed with the chili oil, it all really comes together for me.

                                    2. re: prima

                                      Looks like Tai Dop Voy is available at New Ho King, but isn't listed on the menus at Lee Garden, Swatow, E Pan or New Sky. Must be more common in the burbs and SW Ontario.

                                      1. re: prima

                                        New Sky has a kick ass Grouper & Tofu hotpot.