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Aug 6, 2014 11:01 AM

Alberta hounds visiting Markham, Toronto downtown & Niagara

Hi fellow Ontario hounds,

We will be spending a week in Ontario comes October - 2 dinners & 2 lunches in Markham, a few meals in Niagara and Toronto downtown respectively.

We are staying at Monte Carlo Inn Downtown Markham, a B&B close to the Niagara Falls & InterContinental Toronto Yorkville Hotel in Downtown Toronto respectively.

We are looking for authentic Chinese recommendations in Markham, reasonable but wonderful cuisine in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Falls area, and take-out/lunch places within walking distance of the InterContinental Hotel. We will have a car in Markham and Niagara but not while in downtown.

I have already searched through the message boards but have not found exactly what we are looking for. Thanks in advance for your guidance!

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  1. Surprised you cannot find Chinese food recs in Markham from searching. Start again with searching "Charles Yu" posts. Within walking distance from your Markham hotel is Elegance: for dim sum which I recommend and in the same strip mall is a peking duck place which I have not tried myself, but gets good reviews:

      1. If you're looking for variety, as opposed to fine dining, go to First Markham Place mall. The food court has offerings from many areas in China, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand (sorry if a country was missed).

        It's definitely not fancy, the restrooms can be dubious, and it can be very crowded at lunch and dinner, but the prices are very reasonable, and the food is tasty. Some of my favourites are the meat buns from TianJin, the chicken udon soup (get the roasted barley and corn tea to go with it) from Yanagi Sushi, spring rolls from Pho Ling's and bbq pork on rice from HKS bbq. Bring cash, as I'm not sure who takes credit.

        The mall itself has some interesting stores and though it isn't huge, makes for a fun walk around.

        1. I don't know how I missed the local's guide to NOTL. Thanks, Midtowngirl!

          T, I did come across Charles Yu's posts before and have taken notes. The challenge is that I am unfamiliar with Ontario and not sure what is close to the places that we are staying. I have plugged the address into Google Map and everything looks like it's 15-20 mins away by driving, which is quite far for us.

          Jammy, I also looked into First Markham Place and the bathroom comments scare me. Will the restaurants outside of the food courts better in terms of cleanliness?

          6 Replies
          1. re: Anomay

            With respect to your hotel in Markham, the following restaurants are considered higher level and are quite good (best imo). All should be within an easy 10 minutes drive or less: Elegance (previously mentioned), Casa Victoria, Casa Imperial,and Spring Villa. There should be no issues with cleanliness (bathrooms). All would be considered Cantonese restaurants. Let us know if you need recs for lower level/less expensive or other cuisine styles.
            Also, wrt the below rec for Hart House/Gallery Grill - excellent suggestion, but it's likely closed for the summer months unless they've changed their policy.

            1. re: Anomay

              Hello Anomay,

              Not to worry! Allow an ex-Albertan to come to your aid! ( Yes! I used to live in Calgary for over 10 years whilst working for a couple of major oil companies! )

              You picked a nice cozy and 'conveniently' located hotel to stay in. There are some really fine restaurants/eateries along or around Warden Ave, all within 5-10 minutes drive or less from your hotel.
              For your 2 lunches and 2 dinners, I would suggest the following:

              Lunch #1 - Authentic Hong Kong style Won-Ton and Shui-Gow shrimp dumplings noodles at 'Won-Ton Hut' ( Warden and Highway #7 ). Their Braised Beef Brisket & Tendons as well as Penny Hot Sauce Shredded Pork Lo-Mien are pretty fine too. Authentic tasting broth without cutting corners. Extra fine al-dante chewy noodles. Crunchy, sweet won ton morsels. Only place in town to use yellowing chives as condiments to the noodles. Just like how they do it in Hong Kong.

              Lunch #2 - Dim Sum lunch at Casa Imperial ( Steeles and Warden ) or Casa Victoria ( Warden and Highway #7 ) Two of the top 3-5 Dim Sum places in town. Nothing comes close in Calgary or Edmonton, unless you fly over the Rockies to Vancouver. Abalone puff and Deep fried Spiced salt squid tentacles are awesome. Both a touch more expensive than the norm but well worth it.

              Dinner #1 - The award winning 'authentic' Peking Duck at Dayali ( Warden and Steeles ) is the best in town. First overseas offshoot of their famed Beijing flagship. The duck Skin is amazingly crispy and good!

              Dinner #2 - For fine dining Chinese, I would suggest Casa Victoria. Check out my 'Chowmeet' posting at that place a short while back. Excellent Cantonese fare prepared by a kitchen headed by a chef from Hong Kong's iconic Michelin Star Restaurant Fook Lam Moon. Superb, attentive service. A rarity amongst Chinese Restaurant.

              For a less fancy option. I would suggest a ' wok-hay ' stirred fry dinner at Fantasy Eatery ( Finch and Midland ). Recently 'resurrected', a number of dishes such as their Rose Essence Soy Sauce poached Free Range Chicken and their Peppered Honey glazed or Salted Duck Egg Yolk Dusted fried jumbo oysters are stupendous!

              Free free to fire off any questions. I'll do my best to answer them!


              1. re: Charles Yu

                Hi Charles, I am really sorry to bother you again, but my accommodation in Markham is changed and we are now staying at Courtyard By Marriott Toronto Markham instead. Will your recommendation differ now that we are closer to Richmond Hill?

                Thanks very much for your insight in advance.

                1. re: Anomay

                  You have moved to 'foodie' land my friend!! Tons of choices!
                  You can 'walk across' Hwy 7 from your hotel to 'O'Mei' for Giant Lobster 5 ways...etc. There's 'Judy's Cuisine' in Time Square for excellent Cantonese 'Wok-Hay' stirred fry. Great house special free range chicken as well. Next door is Northern Dumpling Kitchen for great pot-stickers, noodles and northern Chinese fare. In the same plaza is 'Richmond Court' for Hong Kong style comfort food like 'Gone Chau Ngau Ho - Fried rice noodles with beef' or Crispy noodles with black bean sauce. Don't forget their great HK style milk tea and Russian Borscht! Further down on Beaver Creek is 'Dragon Boat'. One of the best Chinese restaurant in the area with consistently high standard cooking. Their roasted suckling piglet , Peking duck are nicely done! Good Dim Sum lunch as well, but prepare to wait!! Always packed!! BTW, 'Congee Queen', another HK style comfort food place is pretty near your hotel too! Lastly, there's 'Yang's Seafood' for Dim Sum and Seafood.
                  All of the above I have posted about my dining experiences.

                  1. re: Charles Yu

                    Awesome, I was worried about the new location, Charles. I will spend the next little while reading your dining experiences and decide on the 2 lunches & dinners! Thanks again!

              2. re: Anomay

                The restaurants are fine. Many of them have their doors open to the service hallway behind them, so you can see inside.

                As far as bathrooms go, think Wal-Mart rather than upscale mall. Not the best for sure, but not toxic.

              3. Treadwell's in NOTL is a must. Lots said about it already on this board.

                August is another charming restaurant in Beamsville, ON, which is a short-ish drive from NOTL. Worth the drive if you combine it with a trip to a winery (Tawse is nice and not far from August).

                In TO, the Oxley in Yorkville is within walking distance of your hotel. Adorable British pub with fantastic food and ambiance. After lunch, walk around the corner to Prairie Girl for cupcakes.

                There's also a Whole Foods just up the street - has a great salad bar with other takeout food in the grocery store itself, and a small cafe on street level with decent sandwiches and other goodies. Almost directly across the street from the hotel is the Royal Conservatory, which has a little cafe in a beautiful space. The coffee is decent but the space is what stands out. I haven't eaten there so can't comment on the food.

                I would also recommend that you go for a walk around the U of T campus if you have time. Check out Hart House, which has a great restaurant upstairs called the Gallery Grill. May be a bit fancy for what you're looking for, but it's delicious and beautiful. You can also just have a coffee in the armchairs by the fire place. Very charming.

                Have fun!

                3 Replies
                  1. re: highlyunlikely

                    Thanks, we do have a reservation at Treadwell, and I have noted the Whole Foods in the vicinity.

                    1. re: highlyunlikely

                      Which foods do you recommend at the Oxley? What I was served at brunch was a pretty sad excuse for an English breakfast. I haven't tried anything else on their menu.

                      OP, there's also a gourmet food shop at Bay and Yorkville Ave, a few blocks further east of Whole Foods, called Pusateri's, that offers take out salads, and has a small seating area where you can enjoy a coffee or quick meal. I like the salads, pastries, sandwiches and other to-go foods at Pusateri's better than the salads, pastries, sandwiches and other to-go foods at Whole Foods. The Yorkville neighbourhood, where the Oxley, Whole Foods and Pusateri's are located, just east of your hotel, tends to be overpriced in terms of what you get for your money. If you're willing to travel a little further, you might find more interesting food for less money than you'd spend near your hotel. How much do you want to spend at lunch in Toronto? Which days will you be lunching? I ask, because Sat and Sun brunch menus are offered at some places that aren't open for lunch during the week.