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Visiting GTA Asian style - in search of Good food :)


I, and a bunch of Asian Montrealers, will be making a weekend trip to the great Toronto areas and we'll be staying in Markham. The purpose of the trip is to EAT GOOD FOOD.

The typical places that we normally go to are: Congee Queen, Ding Tai Fung, some giant wonton place, and grocery shop at T&T.

Now we are tired of doing the same places, so we'd like to ask fellow chowhounders for recommendations. We'll be driving so we don't mind driving around as long as it's tasty food.

The style of food that Montreal is lacking is Shanghai food, Malaysian, and we heard also that GTA has really good Indian food... whether this is true, I dont know but if you know a place that we "must" try. Please let us know!!

We heard of a "Korean" street on Yonge...and we heard there is a "Japanese town" that we'd like to visit too....

Anyhow, Thankx in advance for your comments!!

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  1. Indian
    Little India (on Queen St.)
    Jaipur Grille
    Lahore Tikka House
    The Host on Hwy 7 has tasty buffets and is in your area

    Izakaya Ju on Steeles
    People are also liking Guu and JaBistro downtown

    Some people here are liking Omei (Hwy 7 location I believe)
    Northern Dumpling Kitchen
    Lucullus Pastries for pork buns etc. (Hwy 7 location)
    Rol San for dim sum (downtown)
    Lee Garden downtown apparently has real good roast pork

    Restoran Malaysia

    That Korean area is on Yonge St, centred around Finch. There is also a Korean area downtown on Bloor, around Bathurst.

    If you liked T&T you also might want to visit Galleria Supermarkets as well as First Choice.

    Finally, I LOVE the teriyakis at Sushi on Bloor - although most Chowhounders will tell you to avoid that place at all costs. I do love it though, regardless! Good luck getting in though, it's a mess.

    1 Reply
    1. re: magic

      Would add Kingyo to the list for Japanese.

      As well as Ryoji/Santouka for ramen

    2. Ignore Indian - there's nothing worthwhile within a decent driving distance.

      For Malaysian - Gourmet Malaysia (Brimley & Sheppard) is my favourite.

      Other Asian cuisines - I'm not an expert - but always trust Charles Yu recommendations on this board.

      9 Replies
      1. re: estufarian

        Thank you for your kind words, Estufarian! I'm honored and flattered!

        To the OP: If you are staying in Markham, driving distance wise, you are in the best of both worlds, between Richmond Hill and Scarborough. Epi-centres for good Chinese food.

        My choices are:
        Dim Sum - Yang's, Spring Villa, Casa Victoria
        High end dinner - Yang's, Casa Imperial
        Mid end - The Emperor, Maple Yip, Wins seafood, Honest
        Kitchen, Judy's Cuisine

        Specific dishes:
        King of Char Siu ( bbq pork) - John's BBQ
        Peking Duck and Fried Oysters with honey glaze - The Emperor
        Giant Lobster 4-5 ways - O Mei
        Steamed Garoupa and Braised pork belly with Chinese preserved Mustard greens- Maple Yip
        Wok-Hay stirred fry dishes such as beef with broccoli and Free range chicken with shallots and black bean sauce - Judy's Cuisine

        Let me know if you require additional inputs!
        Happy Chowing!!

        1. re: estufarian

          re: indian.. that's not true. banjara is delicious for north indian and next door is madras masala which has delicious south indian food. both are on bloor, near christie. there is also a banjara at yonge & eglinton though i have never been there.

          from markham, it's only about 30-45 min drive to bloor (i do this drive regularly). i would definitely drive for good food. :) yonge & eg would chop off about 20 min from your drive.

          1. re: helenhelen

            Banjara is generic one-sauce cooking that fills you up with rice. All sauces taste the same.
            Madras Masala is a minefield - but there are occasional gems. IMO the main issue is the huge menu, which requires much of the raw materials to be frozen. The dosas have been inconsistent for me, (too) often being thicker than 'normal' and having a slightly gritty texture.
            My criterion is a 20 minute drive - hence my comment to ignore Indian. But if one is prepared to drive to Banjara, then stop part way at Copper Chimney (Avenue Road and #401) which IMO has far better food, although the spicing has been dumbed down a litle over time.

            1. re: estufarian

              to each their own, i guess. i don't find banjara to be generic one sauce at all (the other day, i had palak paneer, bhendi masala, and baingan bharta and they were all definitely very different and delicious.. not sure what you have been ordering?). madras masala's dosas are some of the best i have ever tried (though i have only tried it from a handful of places in the city).

              i spent a year living in london UK where they have very good indian food. when i returned to toronto, i never found anywhere that measured up, until i discovered banjara.

              1. re: helenhelen

                I am originally FROM London, UK - and I found the vast majority of the places there to also use the '1-sauce' system (i.e. a mother sauce that was adjusted with spices added after ordering). However, I hope you were fortunate enough to find the small percentage that did indeed prepare different sauces from scratch. Of course, in London, a small percentage translates to a relatively high number, and indeed my finest Indian meals have been there.

                1. re: estufarian

                  my fave place that i tried in london was rasa (the veg one) in stoke newington. i know that type of cuisine is rather different (their own twist on keralan food) but it was delish! there was also a tiny place in south london near southbank university that i really liked.. indian food by a family from kenya or something like that.. i forget the name of the place though as it's been ages!

                  i haven't been back since 2003 though!

                2. re: helenhelen

                  While I think Banjara offers bang for the buck, and I like the concept of their combo plate option (and I wish more Indian restos offered solo diners an option of a combo plate), Banjara gave me indigestion. Luckily, I haven't suffered from indigestion after Maroli or Copper Chimney.

                  1. re: prima

                    aw, that is too bad about the indigestion. i have tried maroli and i thought it was pretty good, but i still prefer banjara.

                    1. re: prima

                      quite a lot of indian places do offer a "thali" (plate) option.. especially in little india.. but the food isn't as good from some of these places, imho.

                      i do like some of the dishes at the south indian place on bloor just east of lansdowne though.. forget the name of the place now. their dosa is pretty decent too.

                      never heard of copper chimney before so it's now on my list.. thanks, you two!

            2. One2 Snacks for their Laksa. They have a wider selection of desserts on the weekends. Kuih dadar is a favourite, as is the durian one. In Montreal, you guys have Satay Brothers at Atwater Market - very good laksa there too and quite comparable. My second pick would be Gourmet Malaysia. They're a bit inconsistent though.

              Northern Dumpling Kitchen in general is really good. Ding Tai Fung is better only for their XLB.

              Korean food - I like Mot Na Son for their chip cut noodle soup and their spicy corn noodle. Snails are also good there. That's my go-to. You may want to visit Galleria Supermarket (multiple locations), but the one at York Mills definitely has Korean Fried Chicken (Mom's Chicken) which is nice to eat. You need to wait about 20-30 mins for it though. Fun to shop around while you wait (they give you a pager). Also tasty: sesame tapioca buns in the baked goods section. When fresh, these are chewy and nutty. They don't keep well though, fyi.

              On Spring Garden up at Yonge and Sheppard, you can get *custard* walnut cakes at Canaan. I like these best, but that's just me!

              J-Town is up at Steeles and Woodbine. There is a ramen shop, izakaya, and other things to look at. Food is only okay there. The grocery store is fun to pick up pocky and other candy in. Actually, speaking of candy...

              Go to First Markham Place - in the food court, there's at least one place that does decent Malaysian in there (can't remember what it's called) and there's this awesome candy store called Binko nearby the centre entrance. Great selection.

              Back to japanese foods. Downtown, top picks for ramen are Santouka, Raijin, Sansotei (in that order). I've gone on about them on the board in other places, so do a search and that should get you there.

              But the one place I really like right now is Zakkushi for yakitori. chicken hearts, chicken knees, onigiri, and the mochi dessert are my top picks, though all of it is pretty good.

              blah blah blah... have a good trip! Let us know what you ended up eating later!

              http://www.foodpr0n.com/ -- food. is. love.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jlunar

                I haven't tried One2 Snacks yet, but I plan to check it out soon. I found it on your blog!

                I prefer Restoran Malaysia to Gourmet Malaysia. When we went to Gourmet Malaysia, three different servers asked us how many and then forgot about us. The food was ok but I felt it was a bit coarse and unrefined compared to Restoran Malaysia. I wish Restoran wasn't so far north so I could go more often.

                1. re: chefhound

                  What do you like at Restoran Malaysia? Going there soon!

                  1. re: TeacherFoodie

                    I love the shrimp paste marinated fried chicken. It's addictive!

              2. The big thing in TO right now are the ramen places - there's Santouka, Kinton, and Ryoji. Also Momofuku and JaBistro downtown have been getting a lot of great reviews. If you have time and don't mind driving a bit further to Etobicoke, you can visit Sushi Kaji. And for uptown recommendation I would suggest Saigon Star for the curry crab. Enjoy!!!

                1. Yeah Saigon Star for curry crab is a definite hit. As well as John's BBQ for the "King of BBQ Pork". Lot's of people like O Mei for their Lobster 5 ways, but I prefer Fisherman's clubhouse for their garlic fried lobster. J-Town is cool, but don't get the Japanese curry in the cafe it's so watery. They have an izakaya there too which I've never been to. If you want good Japanese go to Le Café Michi. They have the most beautiful chirashi and their Katsu curry is legit. These are all spots in Richmond, Markham and Scarborough, north end.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Bobby Wham

                    Hello Bobby W,
                    If you like the 'drier' style of lobster preparation a la Fisherman's Clubhouse ( enjoyed the food, but HATE how they assigned time limits and rush the service! ), you should give the similar rendition of 'The Emperor' a try?! In addition to just using garlic, they added fried shallots as well. Very tasty and addictive those 'minced garlic shallot chips combo'!!

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      Thanks Charles! Looking for a place to go this weekend, might hit that spot up. Hey Charles, in your opinion where's the best spot to get a Taiwansese breakfast north of the city? Hot Soy Milk, donuts, green onion pancake, beef rolls, egg sandwich, xiao long bao etc.

                      1. re: Bobby Wham

                        How early??!! Unlike most Cantonese dim sum place, norther places like 369 or Northern Dumpling Kitchen open around 11am?!!

                        1. re: Bobby Wham

                          I'm not Charles, but Northern Dumpling Kitchen has my vote.

                          1. re: jlunar

                            I am not jlunar and I cannot SING as great as her!!! but our palette are similar!

                            I just went to Northern Kichen for lunch yesterday. The pot stickers,XLB.etc were still good. However, the Dan-Dan noodles was a bit underseasoned! That Sliced leg of pork in garlic chili oil was still awesome but again was a bit 'undersalted'?

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Cool, I'm going to Northern dumpling kitchen tomorrow for breakfast, looking forward to it Thanks Charles.

                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                hahah, Charles!! XD More karaoke next time...

                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                  Also recommend the rice cake with preserved vegetables at NDK, and the King of Char Siu at John's BBQ and Rose Lychee macaron at Ruelo, since they're also located at Times Square.

                          1. not sure if they have meat skewers in montreal but these are 2 cheap and filling places to go. first one is near pharmacy and steeles and the second one is just down the street at pharmacy and mcnicoll. both are very close to j-town and pmall.



                            not fancy places by any means but they're awesome to go to for meat skewers and drinks late at night.

                            i also second the malaysian and japanese suggestions already made :)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: blitz

                              I know Montreal pretty well. And just came back from there last month. So definitely try Northern Dumpling - great value compared ton MTL. There is a dumpling restaurant on Kennedy south of 7 at Peachtree plaza that is a steal. Next to Tai Woo restaurant.
                              If you like Malaysian - Gourmet Malaysia is sit down compared to One2Snack - which is great but does not have 'tables' for dining.
                              Dim Sum - i would go for Casa Imperial.
                              Cheap food court dining - I like Sun's hand pulled noodle on the upper level of Pacific Mall. Both the soup and stir fried noodles are great. Then stroll down to Beard Papa for cream puffs or for chinese egg waffles and bubble tea.
                              For excellent HK milk tea, try the award winning donut place on Midland north of Finch. The owner recently won first place in HK.
                              Like they say - everyone is big on ramen trend in TO. Try Momofuku for high end, JTown Niwatei if going in Markham or simply try the foodcourt in Jtown - cheap lunches and bento's for $6 on weekends.
                              If you like Chinese desserts, there's a place at Midland and Finch plaza that does sweet soups, tofu fa, mango tapioca and taro desserts that does great business with the younger crowd after hours. They also do snacks like curry fish balls.
                              For late night stirfry, go to Full House at Midland and Finch and try their 'sauna shrimp' in a wooden bucket, stir fried clams or snails and other cheap dishes around $6. Kinda like Fantasy Eatery one block down.
                              If you like smelly tofu, Mei Lung taiwanese noodle at first markham place.

                              1. re: caitlink

                                I concur with most of Catlink's excellent recommendations. However, I would like to add a few words of warning and alternate suggestions based on recent experiences.

                                Fantasy Eatery - After head chef left, food IMHO is mediocre, run of the mill execution and no longer worth the special visit. Stick with Full House.

                                Momofuku - If you are indeed heading downtown for Ramen, I would settle for Santouka instead. Much better tasting ( broth, noodles, condiments, char siu...etc ) and better value for money. Seats are more comfy too!

                                Pacific Mall - Great place to visit but 'food court wise', the food at First Markham place food court is better and more varied.

                                Mei Lung - If you go there only for the tofu, its fine. But I was not at all impressed by their so called famous ' Taiwanese style Braised Beef hand cut noodles'. Way, way over-rated!

                            2. I second Saigon Star.

                              For Indian, we like Copper Chimney on Avenue, just south of Wilson - nan, tandoori chicken, barbequed whole fish, prawns..

                              For Ramen we liked Ryoji, Kinton and Santouka. There's also Sansotei, Raijin, Momofuku noodle bar, Kingyo, A-OK. For Izakaya, we liked Ryoji and Kingyo (also like Hapa Izakaya but others disliked it) and Guu. But these places all seem to be downtown more.

                              If Thai, Sabai Sabai, or Khao San Road or Sukhothai.

                              Nice bunch of Korean pork bone soup places on Yonge between Sheppard and Finch

                              1. The experience at Galleria (YorkMills/DonMills) is interesting and worth the visit. Their food court/caf has a lot of choices and I like the merchandising they do in the rest of the store, with lots of things other grocers just don't have. And it's clean!

                                That being said, the large asian grocers are really stepping up to meet the variety at the Loblaws-owned T&T. Check out Sunny Foodmart or Al Premium if you pass by their locations.

                                1. Hi everyone! Thanks for all the suggestions!
                                  This is what we ended up eating:


                                  Lunch: we ate at Sam's delight, a little congee place at the mall right next to Pacific mall. The congee was really good and lots of ingredients, and the fresh fried dough was great.

                                  Snack: we proceeded to try some snacks on the upper floor of Pacific mall, like fishballs and such. We wanted to try stinky tofu but they didn't have any. Nothing spectacular but full of people everywhere!

                                  Dinner: we went to Nak Won (or something like that) a Korean restaurant. We picked it based on the number of people eating inside, it was packed! The food was delicious but we found it catered to Chinese palette We would have hoped for something more authentic but it was still tasty.

                                  Snack: We also saw this Korean street food cart outside, so we tried a few skewers of dumplings while waiting for our table :) The food was okay but the experience was fun.

                                  To end the first day, we went to Galleria to check out the Korean supermarket.


                                  Lunch: we went to Ding Tai Fung because we wanted our friend who's never eaten shanghai food to see how they make those lil dumplings through the glass window. The food was great. I really liked the black sesame dumpling dessert, oh so decadent :)

                                  Early dinner: we went to J-town, and again walked around the supermarket (by this time, we've already been to T&T as well.... yes it turned out to be a supermarket tour LOL), and we had ramen at this lil place across the supermarket. I thought it was average, could have more meat in the soup. But hey, ramen was on our check list!

                                  Overall, bellies were satisfied, and we'll be back again in the Summer!

                                  Next time though, we want to try "fisherman clubhouse", and "gourmey malaysia".