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Mar 16, 2014 03:58 PM

Best chinese in the city of Toronto

Where's the best Chinese in the city?

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  1. Which 'regional cuisine' are you interested in?!
    Cantonese. Pekingnese, Shanghainese, Szechuan, 'Northern', 'Hong Kong', 'Macau'......'Buddhist Vegetarian'??!!

    Are you restricted to just downtown? Are you willing to travel up north? Restaurants great for Dim Sum lunch might not be great for dinner and vice versa!

    More input needed to help you out!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Charles Yu

      Charles, you asked the same question about the style that I would have asked but you forgot "Hunan" !

      When someone says "in the city" I still think of downtown Toronto, and definitely not north of Steeles.

      1. re: foodyDudey

        Hello foodDudley! Thanks! But I did use '.........'. Should have just pasted 'Wikipedia'! Ha!!

        1. re: AubWah

          Just to confirm. You are only interested in 'downtown' establishments?!

          1. re: Charles Yu

            I know the best food is not in Downtown. I'm very interested to learn the best of both downtown and the greater metro area

            1. re: AubWah

              I'll leave the omnivorous Charles Yu to tip the OP off to what's good uptown. He knows his stuff up that way - like his advice about Gourmet Paradise, a first-rate Szechuan joint in the northeast end of town, where I supped recently and enjoyed immensely. The smoked duck there - yowzah! But downtown, I find the all-purpose joint that most appeals to me - mostly Hunan, but touches of just about every other Chinese regional cuisine as well - is the venerable Yueh Tung, on Elizabeth St. just south of Dundas, and behind City Hall. St. Good at lunch, when it's packed, with lots of specials; even better at dinner. I've been going for years. Easy to take prices. Consistently solid. Still, northeast is where it's at for more imaginative Chinese. You'll need a car, natch.

        2. re: Charles Yu

          You forgot the biggest distinction of all - whether you are Chinese or not. While I like a lot of Chinese dishes, a lot of Chinese food makes be want to gag at the sight of it. Kind of reminds me of Klingon food, if you know what I mean. So whether a Chinese restaurant is good depends almost as much as on who your are as the food itself. I realize that the authenticity police will be offended by this notion, so save it.

          Some Chinese restaurants seem to know this try to steer Euro diners away from the more hard core stuff. Dragon Dynasty does this, for example. I don't feel offended. They are just trying to making their best effort to please the customer.

          1. re: Charles Yu

            You also didn't mention Nanking. I'd kill for a good Nanking place. The best Chinese restaurant I've even been to was a Nanking place in San Francisco's Tenderloin. I at my last meal there sitting at the counter next to Anthony Hopkins. He wasn't eating the fava beans.

          2. not the OP, but I would like to know where to find authentic Hunan in the GTA!

            1. First off. In my books, there is no such thing as 'Best Restaurant'! There might be 'Best Dishes' but no one restaurant can claim to be 'The Best'! If one ventures outside the kitchen's comfort zone, house specialties and forte dishes, even Michelin 3* can disappoint!! As such, I am going to provide a few choices per category rather than single out just one..

              DOWN TOWN:

              Cantonese Dim Sum and Dinner: Crown Princess and Lai Wah Heen

              Cantonese noodles, rice dishes, 'tapas' size snacks - Swantow

              Northern/Shanghainese/Szechuan: I would prefer uptown places ( though a lot of fellow chowhounders like Asian Legend or Mother's Dumplings )

              UP TOWN:

              One dish wonder!: Giant lobster 4-5 ways - O Mei, Richmond Hill ( no one in North America does a better job! ).

              Cantonese Dim Sum: Yang's, Markham or Skyview, Markham

              Northern ( Szechuan ) Dim Sum and dinner: Northern Dumpling Kitchen,Times Square, Richmond Hill or Chuan Yu-Home, Scarborough

              Cantonese Fine Dining: Dragon Boat Chinese Fusion, Richmond Hill

              Beijing/Peking Duck: Dayali, Markham

              Shanghainese: Ala Kitchen, Markham or the 'Private Kitchen' at 3278 Midland Avenue, Unit D105, Scarborough.

              Cantonese 'middle of the road' dining: The Emperor, Richmond Hill

              Cantonese Wok-Hay stirred fry: Judy's Cuisine, Times Square, Richmond Hill

              Chiu Chow: The Oriental Gourmet, Markham

              Hong Kong style Won-Ton, braised beef brisket and tendons, Penny hot sauce... noodles: Won Ton Hut, Markham.

              Cantonese Rice Congees and make to order Rice roll (Cheung Fun): My Kitchen, Richmond Hill

              (There are too many one or two dish wonders to mention. One such example is Ba Shu Ren Jia for its 'Spicy pig's ear' - so good!)

              For more info and/or review, Google search above or go on 'Yelp'.

              Have fun in Toronto!!

              52 Replies
              1. re: Charles Yu

                If there was a Chowhound MVP award... Charles, you'd win it by a landslide.

                1. re: JonasBrand

                  No! No! No! You are most kind!!
                  As member of the fraternity, just trying to help!

                  MVP award, IMHO, should go to 'Estufarian' - His Michelin star restaurant knowledge world wide is nothing short of 'amazing'!!!!

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    But I'd like to think my epitaph will be the first ever post on the Ontario Board


                    After 10+ years, 7 of these still exist!

                2. re: Charles Yu

                  Note: Chuan Yu-Home, which Charles mentions above, and Gourmet Paradise, which I've mentioned, are one and the same restaurant. Either way, it's good eatin'.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Thanks so much Charles, I have read your posts before, you're a true gentleman. What is penny hot sauce? Chiu Chow? Very interesting. One of my favourite restaurants in the world is Tak Kee Chiu Chow on Hong Kong island

                    1. re: Charles Yu

                      is Golden Court Abalone Restaurant any good?

                      1. re: Charles Yu

                        Hi Charles, what's good at Private Kitchen? I love Shanghainese.

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          charles. one small thing. you repeatedly refer to szechuan cuisine as being northern even though it is in southwest china. can i ask why?

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Man, this is the most useful post I've ever seen. Thank you.

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              Can we not call Richmond Hill 'uptown'!!! Uptown is Yonge N of Bloor!!!

                              1. re: roostermom

                                Then Barrie is uptown also. When should we stop, in Barrie or Rainy River?

                                1. re: foodyDudey

                                  Richmond Hill is not even in the City of Toronto. The OP asked for City of Toronto recommendations. Before amalgamation, 'uptown' was north of Bloor. After amalgamation the definition changed. However the 905, 705, etc., has never amalgamated with the 416.

                                2. re: roostermom

                                  And I think of uptown is anything on Yonge north of Eglinton. So everyone defines "uptown" differently.

                                  1. re: kwass

                                    And here is another definition.

                                    I wonder what the residents of Rosedale consider to be uptown, as it seems to be all down from there!

                                3. re: Charles Yu

                                  Any other recs for wok hay besides those two? Fantasy eatery is not that great and there are so many of these types of restaurants littered around scarborough.

                                  Looking for a good one in scarb or north york.

                                  No more maple yip?

                                  How about HK cafe...any better than Phoenix?

                                  1. re: szw

                                    Maple Yip has always been one of the best overall and consistent Cantonese restaurants in the GTA imo. It remains my favorite. I'm not a fan of the Pheonix chain of HK style restaurants. I find much variance in this category....I currently like OMG the best.

                                      1. re: smfan

                                        Gordon Baker Rd, near Vic Park.

                                        1. re: T Long

                                          This is great since its closer to me...very poor yelp reviews but I will definitely give it a try!

                                          Can you recommend a few others to try out?

                                          1. re: szw

                                            My experience with OMG (and most HK styles) is for lunchtime. Please report on your findings if you do go. Regarding others, I hesitate a bit because I find them all a bit different....almost like variances in home cooking the same recipes. One that I like and frequent (partly because of convenience is D&R Wings on Bamburgh Circle. I was going to recommend Kam Fai 38 @ Steeles & Brimley too but apparently it's closed (which I did't know about until needs a program to keep track;-))

                                            1. re: T Long

                                              Tried D&R yesterday. Like their HK milk tea.

                                          2. re: T Long

                                            Thanks T Long. Had Ox tongue in tomato sauce for lunch at OMG today. I like their HK style Borscht. Very flavourful. What's else is good there?

                                            1. re: smfan

                                              Wow! Good HK style Borscht and Ox tongue dishes! Have to give this place a try!! Wonder what their 'white cream sauce' is like? Used to love having ' Baked Garoupa or seafood with Cream sauce on fried rice '. However, sad to see almost all places now use the 'muddy tasting Basa or Talapia' filet. Can be so bad!!

                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                I've read somewhere, or someone told me that there might be a past "Dickens" connection to OMG. But seems like this is claimed by quite a few places;-)

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  OMG use Basa & Talapia. Tables are crowded. Black interior. Weekend is one hour seating only. Ox tongue was luke warm while the sauce and pasta were very hot. And they kept the skin on. But there was no off taste. I would go again but not on weekend.

                                                  1. re: smfan

                                                    Went to OMG for lunch today. Still busy. But the borscht tasted different. Less depth. Weekend is better because of the premium charge?

                                                    1. re: smfan

                                                      Hi smfan,
                                                      Interesting you mention 'Borscht'. I had one at Richmond Court, Times Square for the first time, a couple of days ago and was stunned by how 'GOOD' it was!! Dense and complex with a hint of ' Old Hong Kong Commercial flavor and aroma '.

                                                      1. re: Charles Yu

                                                        Thanks Charles. What else is good at Richmond Court?

                                                        1. re: smfan

                                                          Believe it or not. Their Cantonese Roasted Duck is IMHO one of the best in town! The marinade, unlike a lot of 'cut-corner' versions, is very authentic traditional Hong Kong. Resulting in an absolutely delicious sauce.

                                                          A lot of their 'Wok-Hay' stirred fry noodle and rice dishes have nice smokey aroma and gorgeously seared caramelization of proteins in particular the beef. As such, rice noodle with beef and black bean sauce, Prawns with scrambled eggs on rice noodle or Beef Ho-Fun aka ' Gone Chau Ngay Ho ' are all superb. Portion sizes are huge!

                                                          1. re: Charles Yu

                                                            Richmond Court's - "clear soup beef brisket" rice noodle is very tasty as well. It's not the one where the soup is dark brown from the brisket juice.
                                                            The milk tea is good as well. We usually go to the location at Times Square.

                                                            1. re: caitlink

                                                              Oh yes, the tea!!! IMO, better and flavourful than a lot of so called 'award winning' outfit!!

                                                            2. re: Charles Yu

                                                              I heard Richmond Court is closed. Where are you getting cantonese roasted duck these days?

                                                              1. re: smfan

                                                                Richmond Court inside Times Square is alive and well!! Roasted duck still as good as usual!

                                                  2. re: smfan

                                                    I've liked OMG's pork chop and ox tail plates in the past. On subject of other HK style places, another gem for me recently has been Fortune Stone in the T&T mall @ Steeles & Warden. The restaurant is small and tables are crowded (a drawback), and I've always liked their food, but they've had a recent mgmt change and modified their menu....I like the place even more now!

                                                    1. re: T Long

                                                      Thanks T Long for the heads up. Definitely will give Fortune Stone a try. Only thing is, parking in that plaza is a pain in the posterior!!!

                                              2. re: T Long

                                                Ref: HK cafe. Have you tried 'Dicken's' inside Richlane Mall or 'Hollywood' in Market Village recently?

                                                Heard Maple Yip is very inconsistent these days? True?!

                                                1. re: Charles Yu

                                                  Hi Charles: I have been once recently to the Dicken's in the Richlane Mall. It was fine, but relatively pricey. I think we got one of the specials that seemed to have two mains included so the four of us ended up ordering two specials to share. I guess it could be called HK style, but is more upscale than the Phoenix chain for eg. (I guess I'm saying I don't really consider it to be typical HK style. which I equate more to comfort food.) Having said this, I am not planning any return trips to Dicken's, as OK as the food was. A comparable place is La Piazzetta Ristorante inside the Monte Carlo on Woodbine which I prefer probably more for the ambiance than food. But discussing HK style is difficult due to the wide variances. (taste and now price points). I have not been to Hollywood in Market Village...what's your take on it? Regarding Maple Yip, I've only been once in the past 6 months, but experienced its normal (to me) high quality.

                                                  1. re: T Long

                                                    Ref: Hollywood.
                                                    Been their only a couple of times but ordered food that doesn't require a lot of skill - Club Sandwich..etc
                                                    However, find it to be always packed so other food should be okay?! Noticed almost every table with teens order their 'Fried Chicken'?!! Have to give them a try solely on curiosity.
                                                    BTW, there's another HK cafe opposite the Chinese supermarket inside the plaza at Leslie and Finch. Food was pretty OK, especially the 'German style pork hock'

                                                2. re: T Long

                                                  For HK cafe, Phoenix is overrated. Our favourites are: Ming's on Kennedy near Passmore, the Macau food court place at Peachtree (Kennedy and 7), Honey Sweet (No Frills food court at Silver Star). At all 3, we go for the Baked Portguese Chicken rice.

                                                  Best value and good food has to be Maydoh at Kennedy and Denison. It's a dive but the deep fried pork cutlet is tasty. Same with Hunnan Chicken rice. Opens at 7 for breakfast.

                                                  We were at maple Yip last week. Food is still good but we had to go early at 6pm for a table on a Friday.

                                                  We go to Hollywood for late night. Everyone orders the fried chicken wings/mixed basket because it's a good deal. Hence a big teenage crowd.

                                                  1. re: caitlink

                                                    Thanks for the info, Caitlink!
                                                    Talk about Peactree. I recall having an early dinner at a HK cafe on the 'outside' of the plaza ( not food court ). Pretty good! Forgot about the name though!

                                                    1. re: Charles Yu

                                                      Would Golden Abalone be a good choice to bring a visiting dai lo?

                                                    2. re: caitlink

                                                      The wings are a good deal, but they are also tasty. The garlic/pepper combination is very good and you wouldn't find a similar flavour combination elsewhere (or at least I haven't).

                                                      1. re: caitlink

                                                        Tried the chicken rice and milk tea at Maydoh today. Prefer the version at Macau place. But thanks for your rec.

                                                  2. re: Charles Yu

                                                    I tried putting these on a map:


                                                    Thanks so much for listing these!

                                                    1. re: mgualt

                                                      Bless you mgualt!! I was just about to do that today and then saw your post! THANK YOU! I think you just won 2nd MVP to Charles Yu!
                                                      Together the two of you have immensely helped me put forward some suggestions for an upcoming dinner in Markham. Thank you both!!!

                                                      1. re: mgualt

                                                        Brilliant work!! Most useful!! Thank you on behalf of everyone!!

                                                        1. re: mgualt

                                                          Charles and mgualt, thank you!

                                                          1. re: mgualt

                                                            Awesome effort. Now, if only there was not such a vacuum btw the downtown Chinatown and Richmond Hill/Scarboro...

                                                          2. re: Charles Yu

                                                            For Fine Dining up-town, I am adding 'Yang's Seafood-Markham'.to the list!

                                                            1. re: Charles Yu

                                                              Went to My Kitchen this week for dinner. Did not try out congee and rice roll.
                                                              Had the soya duck (large portion). Also had an eggplant oyster dish which went great with rice. The chui chow congee which came with oyster - had a great soup broth and lots of cilantro. The deep fried intestine was good as was the blood pudding and intestine.
                                                              Stir fried satay beef noodle had lots of wokhay.
                                                              Next time - will go for their famous fresh rice roll, fried sesame ball - it seems every table at dinner ordered these 2 dishes.
                                                              Nice to have a place which has congee, lots of snacks plus dishes that go with rice for dinner.

                                                              1. re: caitlink

                                                                Just to tag on your comment about My Kitchen. Hope you dont mind :-)

                                                                Had lunch there a few days ago. Rice rolls with dried shrimps and onions garnish, dough fritter and steamed radish cake - all were good.

                                                                The soupy rice with seafood was no longer in the lunch special menu but the waitress offered to do my order. I read elsewhere that it was nice so I wanted to try.
                                                                My view: just low average. Will not repeat. Flavour was too mild for me, plus very average ingredients.

                                                                The marinated duck vermicelli with preserved veg was tasty.

                                                            2. Wow!! So many questions!! Let me try answering them one by one.

                                                              Although food is pretty good by Toronto standard, but please do not try to compare the Chiu Chow food offer by 'Oriental Gourmet' to Tak Kee of Hong Kong!! ( Its like trying to compare Sushi from NYC Yasuda with Tokyo's Jiro, Saito or Sawada!!). Dishes like the Smoked Great Grand Father Free Range Chicken ( better play safe and pre-order ). Chiu Chow 'Lo-Shui' marinated duck, Fried oyster pancakes, Stirred fry chicken with Szechuan peppercorn, Deep fry Xenotodon fish...etc are pretty good. They also have Chiu Chow style Braised Sharks Fin. But again, unfair to compared with Hong Kong best!

                                                              To me, here in the GTA, Szechuan, Shanghai and Northern all have some pretty similar spicy noodle dishes as well as dumplings and pancake Dim Sums. And they are all different from the 'popular and dominant Cantonese', which is Toronto's forte. As such, I'm just being lazy and consolidate them in one, though, technically, one should separate them. Sorry! My fault!

                                                              The Shanghainese private kitchen serves pretty decent and authentic Shanghainese dishes. Some of them include 'Old Duck & Rice Vermicelli soup', 'Oil poached bamboo shoot tips', 'Yin Doak Sin' soup, 'Grand mother Bamboo shoot braised pork', 'Preserved Mustard greens with Octopus', 'Shanghainese Aromatic Crispy Duck', 'Shanghai Won-Ton in clay hotpot'....etc. Its pretty new. Have not tried a lot of dishes. Mostly hits than misses.

                                                              Golden Abalone can be very very good if one knows the owner!! Pity! Especially for pre-arranged banquet style dinner.
                                                              FYI, the owner has recently joined forces with others and took over ' Penglais' from across the parking lot. Food, especially Dim Sum, in the new place is more consistent and no 'string pulling' required.

                                                              'Penny hot sauce' is a tangy, sweet and spicy sauce used with shredded pork to go with Cantonese 'alkaline/lyle water' noodles. Cantonese pronunciation is ' Ging Doh Ja Jeung'

                                                              That's all folks!!

                                                              12 Replies
                                                              1. re: Charles Yu

                                                                charles. i have so much respect for you and your knowledge of food. your advice has never let me down. but i do have to take issue with you here. it's at this point i wish there was a private message option.

                                                                i do get your point about the prevalence of cantonese food here, but, with all due respect, to consolidate cuisine from sichuan with shanghai (2000 km away from chengdu) and beijing (1800 km away from chengdu) is like consolidating greek, french and german cuisine as one group of non-italian cuisine. as a side note, almost half of geographic sichuan is culturally tibetan (which of course has its own cuisine). my point is that the cuisine in china is so diverse and wonderful that it is truly a shame to limit it by defining it in relation to the cuisine of one region (even if that's what's represented primarily by the chinese diaspora here in toronto). a few years ago i had a local specialty in a small chinese gobi desert town near the kyrgystan border that was strikingly similar to a pasta dish (and it lay along marco polo's path during his epic journey).

                                                                i'm sorry, but i get very passionate about this because my mother is from a minority community in china, one of many that is seeing its culture, traditions, rich history and culinary legacy steamrolled by more dominant forces over the last 60 years.

                                                                once again though, i have so much respect for you and your reviews. they are always spot on and i hope that this message does not offend you in any way.

                                                                1. re: barnes1852

                                                                  attaching a culinary map of china from the beijing computational science research center

                                                                  1. re: barnes1852

                                                                    I'm sure Charles will take no offense. I live in Queens NY where lots of Tibetan immigrants have settled in Jackson Heights. The food can be heavily Sichuan influenced

                                                                    1. re: barnes1852

                                                                      None taken, chow-friend!
                                                                      On the contrary, I'm glad this discussion helps to bring out clarifications to some of our fraternity members whom I'm sure would love to know more about the diversity of Chinese cuisine!
                                                                      Unfortunately, as culinary boundaries, techniques and styles start expanding and 'morphing', these regional separations will slowly change and merge into one big 'grey' area. In fact, that 'mutation' started way back, when Cantonese restaurants all over, started to introduce 'Peking Duck' in their menu!

                                                                    2. re: Charles Yu

                                                                      Thanks Charles. I went to the "private kitchen" for late lunch today. Had the crispy duck and won-ton. Pipping hot and well seasoned.

                                                                      1. re: smfan

                                                                        Where is this "private kitchen"? I may want to go if it's not a secret kitchen. I've never heard of it before.

                                                                        1. re: foodyDudey

                                                                          If you google the address that Charles provided above for the "private kitchen", you should come across a picture of the storefront which does not seem to have any English name. The Chinese characters (不見不散) translate to "See you there" or "There or be square" (google translate). Not sure where the name "private kitchen" comes from. Certainly does not seem to be an English friendly establishment though.

                                                                          1. re: T Long

                                                                            English menu with pictures provided.

                                                                            1. re: smfan

                                                                              Does the menu mention the english name of the establishment anywhere....private kitchen? How would they identify themselves to dinesafe for example?

                                                                          2. re: foodyDudey

                                                                            Here is a review of the "Private Kitchen" in Chinese

                                                                            Helpful photos.

                                                                            1. re: happycamper

                                                                              not so helpful to run the google translation.

                                                                              "No one will serve the fish to bite the sheep will also eat fish to bite sheep dish, fish and sheep set up as a small series of fresh word before, so this dish is known to delicious, if you can do fish and sheep can integrate with each other a little taste of each other, and that even if successful dish a half."

                                                                              i'd love to try this place but i would have no idea what i was doing

                                                                      2. Famous for their Cantonese BBQ pork smothered in honey glaze, 'Skyview Fusion Chinese' for some unknown reason has undergone another round of renovation. The entire front of the house is now opened up into one huge cavernous space.

                                                                        Tonight, I had an excellent dinner there. Every dishes were well executed. A few enjoyable notables included:
                                                                        - Roasted suckling piglet with marinated shredded Jelly Fish.
                                                                        - Stuffed Crab Claw
                                                                        - Wok Fried Giant Lobster with Premium top Soy.

                                                                        Skin of the suckling piglet was delicate, light and ultra crispy. Jelly fish was flavorful and well seasoned.
                                                                        Stuffed crab claw was very generous in size. Greaseless and gorgeous 'bouncy' texture.
                                                                        Wok Fried Lobster resembles a bit of O'Mei's version. Pretty well done.

                                                                        Definitely a place I will consider returning for entertaining friends and relatives