Chinese lobster/crab specials
What are your favourite &/or secret locations for chowhoundish crab or lobster specials, prepared in a Chinese style (ie. black bean sauce, ginger/green onion, salt and pepper..etc)? As for me...I've tried the 2 for l lobster special at Wah Sing (on Baldwin), which rings in at a thrifty $26 before taxes. It was properly saucy & flavourful, and a bargain for what you get.
I was at New Sky on Spadina a couple of weekends ago, and it looked like just about every table was ordering the same stir fried lobster dish on some kind. Stupidly..we noticed it after we'd already ordered, which was a pity, because the choices we ended up making were pretty mediocre:(
I'd love to hear what places other CH'ers recommend for deals on these types of items, whether in Chinatown, up in Markham, old Chinatown...etc.
re: Frances in Toronto
I would think most Chinese restaurants serve lobster that was alive when you order it. Not to mention the fish, crab or other lovelies swimming around the tanks. If you're talking Cantonese, and if it wasn't live, the restaurant would be gone fairly quickly, unless it was patronized by a bunch of non-Chinese. If one has had lobster or crab that was frozen, you would notice the difference immediately.
Richmond King on Hwy 7 and West Beaver Creek has great food, but the Lobster special is the best I have ever had.
Many people want to know how Chinese and Asian restaurants in general keep their prices down. It is often the case that the owners are usually the only workers, you can only pay cash in many cases, and they aim for smaller margins, but seek higher volumes.
Being a French trained chef, I have sat in Asian restaurants and have costed out what I have eaten and wondered how they could make money. I discovered all their secrets by working for free in various Chinese places around the GTA.
I would also like to add, if anybody ever cooked a dead lobster, their place would surely go under. Asians know seafood, and with so much competition, people can go elsewhere!
re: fun foodie
Agreed fun_foodie... its about higher turnover, smaller profit margins, and family business. Being Chinese, we know what fresh seafood tastes like, and from a young age get accustomed to choosing "swimming-fish" -lobster -crab from the tanks. Word gets around quick as to which restaurants are good, and which ones are not so good. Try WahSing (< $30) on Baldwin, or the House of Gourmet's multi-course specials (< $40) at Spadina & Dundas W (across from Green P parking ramp).
Almost all dinner restaurants at Spadina and Dundas offer the "seafood multi-course" combo. It's like $40-$45 for 3 courses, one being either lobster or crab, plus 2 more dishes selected from a list, $50-$55 for 4 courses and so on. Unfortunately, these are almost always listed in Chinese only. The only one I can remember that has it in English as well is the one at around 532 Dundas W (sorry I don't remember the name; ground level just east of Chinese Traditional buns) - not sure about House of Gourmet.
Perhaps at New Sky or E Pan if you get a friendly waiter and they're not too busy, ask for a "wor choi with 4 courses" menu recommendation, say you want the lobster or crab, and e.g. a beef dish, a chicken dish and a veggie dish, and let them suggest something or tell you what's available.
Just remembered that I had taken this photo from Asian Majesty on Spadina. The 6 prices on the left are "seafood combos", starting with 3 for $40.95 (with one being the lobster/crab), the 6 prices on the right are "regular combos" without lobster, 3 dishes from below for $22.95
I have translated the left column. As I type it out, I think I understand why it's not offered in English. Note the third one! sounds like something from your bathroom!
Steamed live fish
Sea cucumber, fish maw, duck's feet hotpot
Black and white fungus on (young) loofah
Sea cucumber, shitake mushrooms on veggies
Salt and Pepper egg tofu
XO meat sauce with green beans
Grouper and tofu hotpot
Beef with ginger and scallions
Pulled chicken with jelly fish
Boned Chicken with shrimp and taro paste
Eggplant and minced pork hotpot
Shrimps with cashews
I have had a fantastic lobster dumpling once at Grand Chinese Restaurant out at Pearson in the Double Tree hotel. I would have to be honest and admit that the broth of the Lobster Udon that comes with it is worthy of a good toss down the sink though. I found it a tad fishy for my preferences. The dumplings are amazingly crunchy in texture, and superbly sweet and succulent though and worth it IMO. It was served at lunch a while back – you should call and see if it is still available before going. Approximately $25 and it serves two (with two courses – the dumplings + either the lobster udon, or lobster congee).
Cheers and Happy Eating!
Another cheap Chinese restaurant I frequent when I want a basic and tasty crab dish is Fantasy at Midland and Finch. They also often carry spotted Vancouver prawns at bargain prices that are prepared as you like for about $1 each prawn (it’s priced per oz or gram). The fish tank is always well stocked, with deliveries daily.
Went the week before to Fantasy, and saw a table that had the fixed price lobster for $18. So, for $18, you have a lobster dish no matter how many pounds. These are the standard smallies that they have. And boy was it a big dish. A family of 3 - 2 parents and a kid. The parents kept on taking piece after piece, and there was a lot of meat too.. haha, yes, we look at what others eat intently. :P
So a week later (this past Thursday) we decided to go and try it out. Ours was a little bit smaller than last week's neighbours'. We had a decent size, and at about $18, I think its just right. Could taste the lobstery sweet, savoury essence... very yummy. We ordered two other dish, along with soup (free, but you have to ask for it, they're not going to automatically give it to you), and left feeling very happy. Our bill came to $39, not including tip.
Currently, 'Sun Star' on Finch/Bayview is charging only $15 a pound for giant 5lbs+ lobsters compared to the $20+ per pound O'Mei on Hwy 7 is charging.