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Sep 23, 2013 02:53 PM

Old School Chinese Restaurant (like China House,RIP)

When China House on Eglinton closed it left a void in my life. It had been our "go to" place for all family celebrations for at least 15 years. Please Chow Hounds, I need your help. We don't need authentic chinese, just good food and family style. Banquet seats or big round tables. We live downtown but willing to travel for the sake of the family.

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  1. The closest thing I've found to that style is Sea Hi up on Bathurst. I like their steamed pork at very least.

    32 Replies
    1. re: Dr. John

      Lee Garden on Spadina is our answer to Canadian Chinese.
      We Went to Sea Hi, about a year ago, and could not believe how bad the food was.
      Loved the ribs (honey garlic especially) from Lichee Gardens, and sort of liked China House, but find ourselves at Lee Garden at least once a Month.
      No fancy round tables, or dried noodles on the table, but no MSG, and it is the only Chinese restaurant that we are aware of that doesn't steal the Lobster Roe for their dim sum.
      They are also very nice, and the menu is in English as well as Cantonese.

      1. re: erly

        I agree on Lee Garden but I didn't want to piss a lot of people off by comparing them to the old China House. I know many who think LG is the best Chinese restaurant in the world.

            1. re: justxpete

              I know of a family who drives from Thornhill to eat at LG.

            2. re: justsayn

              Holdon, isn't China house old school canadian chinese food (or fake chinese food)?

              1. re: flonie

                Canadian Chinese is referred to as old school on CH Toronto. Ja doo chicken wings, Vancouver ribs (dry ribs), egg rolls, chicken balls, chow mein, moo goo gai pan, dai dop voy, house noodles, long glow in the dark pork ribs, sweet and sour pork ribs, honey garlic ribs, breaded fried wings, pork wonton soup, pork slices, general tsao, kung pao chicken, fried rice, fried noodles, plum sauce, hot mustard and a fortune cookie or almond cookie

                1. re: justsayn

                  They didn't use corn starch as the breading, it was either a simple flour breading or the chicken ball batter type.

                  1. re: justsayn

                    Don't forget Cantonese chow mein (basically dai dop voy topping crispy fried skinny wheat noodles), beef with broccoli, beef with Chinese greens, Egg Foo Young and Butterfly shrimp (the ones with bacon, egg and onions).

                    Our old school standard order was Wor Won Ton Soup, egg rolls, chicken balls with pineapple or ginger sauce, dai dop voy, beef with Chinese Greens (usually bok choi) and steamed rice.:)

                    1. re: prima

                      OH right....Egg Foo Yong !! lol Loved that.

                      And shrimp and snow peas.

                      Egg Foo Yong reminds me there was a place on The Queensway that is still open but I haven't been for over a decade. Perhaps it is still exactly the same? Has anybody been to Ancom Chinese Food near Islington?

                      1. re: justsayn

                        haha........yes, I have been to Ancom for about two lunches. Would prefer not to go back as the food is very bland. Really bland. Not the same owner as years ago.

                          1. re: justsayn

                            You can say that again. My first job was at the Baskin Robbins across the street 22 years ago. Ordered from there twice a week while at work. Great food then. Now not so much.

                            1. re: fryerlover

                              Ok! So do you remember the name before Ancom? THAT was good!

                              1. re: justsayn

                                As far back as I remember, it has always been Ancom Chinese Restaurant.

                                1. re: fryerlover

                                  I found it! This was when it was at it's very best! The nicest family ran it too!

                                  1. re: justsayn

                                    Oh yeah, that name does ring a bell. Do you know when the name change happened? Just curious as I'm now wondering what the name was when I was ordering twice a week at my first job.

                      2. re: prima

                        Us too

                        Also BBQ pork ends, fried wontons, and just for good measure, fried rice.

                        Hmmmm, yum!

                        1. re: prima

                          In our family, every person chose a dish. My dad picked beef with broccoli, my sister, sweet and sour chicken balls, my mother, honey garlic spare ribs and me, sizzling rice soup.

                          1. re: 1sweetpea

                            And the North American way was/still is to eat your chosen dish as opposed to family style sharing.

                            My friends loved eating Chinese at my house because my parents would put everything out on the counter for sharing. And of course there was no shortage of food.

                            1. re: justsayn

                              Huh? No way. Even my family (read: Very caucasian) shared/s dishes, and has done so ever since we started eating very Westernised Chinese food (which I no longer eat unless forced).

                              I actually find the opposite. People of ethnic backgrounds tend to prefer to eat their own dish as opposed to sharing.

                              1. re: justxpete

                                ALWAYS ate family style. And so did every other suburban family I knew heading down to Elizabeth St. on Sunday evening in the 60's and 70's. Plus it seems that everyone had "their" go to place. Ours was The Nanking, right behind the "New" City Hall. Other friends went to Sai Woo, still others to Lichee Gardens.

                                1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                                  All I can tell you is this was the "white bread" way that I saw and STILL see. I will have beef and broccoli, I will have Moo Goo Gai Pan etc etc. That's what helped make combo meals so popular - it was for people who wanted a mix because their family hadn't figured it out. I would go to the restaurant with these people and couldn't get them to share plates.

                                  The two of you grew up the way I did, but MANY did not.

                              2. re: justsayn

                                Our family always shared the dishes......and the same when I ate Chinese at my friends house up the street. And both families are/were all North American born french Canadians with a bit of some other backgrounds in the french Canadian mix.

                                1. re: justsayn

                                  Not in my family or circle of friends. It's always family-style. I have never seen anyone order their own dish (and not share with others) until having dinner at a Chinese resto in Calgary in 1999 with a classmate from Thunder Bay (who ate half of my dish, when I offered it, but offered none of his). I have never seen anyone do that since, and I'm guessing I've eaten at Chinese restaurants 800+ times (almost weekly for my first 25 years, and at least monthly over the last 15) in the last 40 years ?

                                  1. re: prima

                                    Folks, we've removed some posts from this thread about whether it's common or uncommon to dine "family-style" at Chinese restaurants, as that topic is getting pretty far afield for this board. If someone wants to start a survey on whether people eat family style or everyone has their own dish in Chinese restaurants, the General Topics board is the best place for that thread. Thanks!

                                  2. re: justsayn

                                    We shared all of our dishes, but we each had definite favourites.

                              3. re: justsayn

                                What is the translation of dai dop voy? Most of the names seem to be cantonese versions of the dish phonetically.

                                Moo goo gai pan (mushrooms, sliced chicken)

                                Ja doo (Ja is fried, I don't know where the doo comes in)

                                1. re: flonie

                                  I don't know the direct translation. Dai Dop Voy (大什會 ) contains chicken, shrimp, bbq pork and mixed vegetables.

                                  1. re: prima

                                    Not sure either of the direct translation, but I understood it to mean "big assortment of veggies and meat (seafood incl.)". I still usually order it at Yueh Tung downtown and always look forward to the sauteed dried bean curd that they include.

                                  2. re: flonie

                                    Dai Do Voy ... "Large Assorted/Mixed/Misc Meeting" I am pretty sure on the Do being asst/misc/mixed as I have heard other pronunciations as Chap/Chop (as in Chop Suey).

                                    Moo goo gai pan ... "Mushroom chicken slices" (pretty literal). Moo goo ... mushroom and at least from what I learned is button mushrooms (vs dong goo for shitake and so on for other types of 'goo').

                                    No idea on Ja/Jar Doo wings ... Ja would def be fried in Cantonese.

                                    There is an interesting Wiki on this. Please note my credentials in this matter are based on growing up in Toronto as a fluent Canto speaker (HK and other sub-dialect) sorely lacking in literacy.

                                2. re: flonie

                                  @flonie That's what the OP asked for.

                          2. Not a lot of places doing this type of thing anymore. Really not much demand for it, I suspect. I like to call it North Americanized suburban Chinese food.

                            What about P.F. Changs? Not exactly old school, but the food style is close, and they can probably handle a large party...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kwfoodiewannabe

                              I think Sea Chai (Hi) is much closer and PF isn't the same while also not terribly authentic.

                            2. Just north of Bay & College is Crown Princess Fine Dining. It has big round tables, and pretty authentic Chinese food. I enjoyed it!

                              Just be mindful as it is a bit pricey!


                              8 Replies
                              1. re: ammaark

                                I doubt they do sweet and sour chicken balls.

                                1. re: MissBingBing

                                  or fried noodles and plum sauce.....

                                  1. re: justsayn

                                    Well, I didn't say it was mainstream Chinese food :P

                                    It's a fairly great restaurant, and has the decor and capability the OP wanted.

                                    1. re: ammaark

                                      The OP asked for something like China House. Ever eaten there?

                                      1. re: MissBingBing

                                        No, I assumed "old school Chinese" meant authentic. Judging by your reaction, I assume that's not the case. My mistake.

                                    2. re: justsayn

                                      when you say dried noodles, do you mean those orange things they call 'chow mein noodles'?

                                      1. re: flonie

                                        Fried noodles - yes those are them. lol

                                    3. re: MissBingBing

                                      CP serves sweet and sour pork, listed under chef's recs. Haven't tried it yet. Next time I'm there, I'll order it. :)

                                  2. It seems to me this question - where are the old-school Chinese joints in town? - has been asked before, and the overwhelming consensus was (as Dr. John has noted) Sea-Hi Famous Chinese Food, on Bathurst St., just south of Hwy. 401. It has been around for about 50 years. I haven't been into the joint for at least 30, so can't recall whether it has the requested banquettes or big round tables. But elderly friends - even more elderly than I am - who frequent the place seem to like it a lot, though they point out that it's probably not quite up to China House standards. Its parking lot usually seems busy when I drive by.

                                    1. We would love an answer to your query, as we are also having an issue finding a replacement for Lichee Gardens, China House, etc. We do get Sea-Hi take-out occasionally and also Cynthia's take-out, which is much less expensive than Cynthia's dine-in. We live in Thornhill, but are very willing and able to travel. We do also go to authentic Chinese restaurants, but would love a replacement for China House, especially their ribs and plum sauce! Now I'm hungry.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: farmgirl1836

                                        Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. We have tried Sea-Hi, and while I love the decor, the food was not nearly as good as China House. Crown Princess Fine Dining is good for weekend dim sum, but is definitely not old school. I want the fried noodles, the long ribs, and a really fat egg roll with meat in it!