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Chinese lobster/crab specials

  • r

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.

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  1. f
    Frances in Toronto

    I'd be weary of seafood specials that are "too cheap"... chances are they may be cooking you lobsters that died before the cooking process. The same goes for crab. You get what you pay for in this town.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Frances in Toronto

      Wah Sing @ Baldwin has pretty good lobster though. Albeit, with alot of MSG. But still good tasting!

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

        3 Replies
        1. 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).

          1. re: kingmo

            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.

            1. re: Teep

              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

               
        2. 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).

          Lobster Dumpling photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...
          Lobster Udon course:
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/28531775...

          Cheers and Happy Eating!

          1. 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.

            5 Replies
            1. re: BokChoi

              Here's a post of their menu for crab specials (in Chinese only):

              http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

              Cheers!

              1. re: BokChoi

                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.

                1. re: jennjen18

                  That is so ridiculously cheap. Thanks for the info. I love fantasy and its prices. Now if only non-Chinese restaurants picked up on its pricing structure ... but I guess that would only be in my dreams.

                    1. re: jennjen18

                      Looks like it has quite a bit of meat. Thanks for the photo.

                2. 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.

                  1. Wah Sing all the way!!

                    Other restaurants i've tried don't come close to the quality and flavour of WS's ginger and green onion.

                    12 Replies
                    1. re: cityplacegirl

                      Elegantview has stir fried chicken lobsters at $2.99 each.
                      They looked good.
                      You just tell them how many you want.
                      We had a 4 1/2 pound lobster this week at $15.00 per pound.
                      and got a discount for paying cash.

                      1. re: erly

                        What is 'chicken lobster'? Never heard of it!

                        1. re: Charles Yu

                          I wonder if it is anything like "beach chicken" or "house chops".

                          1. re: Charles Yu

                            Chicken lobster is small, tender, female lobster.

                            Please don't kill the messenger!

                            1. re: Charles Yu

                              a "Chicken lobster" is a size of lobster - so in this case, about a pound or so. Canner lobsters are the ones you usually see for a cheap price when lobster specials come to town (cheap lobsters at Loblaws, etc.) and come in at about 3/4 lb or so.

                              1. re: BokChoi

                                The "chicken lobster" at Elegrant is half of it for $2.99. It is ok with this price, I have tried it.

                                Full House on Hwy 7 has the 5 lbs Maggie sauce lobster special for $60.

                                1. re: skylineR33

                                  There are several Full House locations - which one is the best one to try? I have yet to try this chain and always see so many people in them.

                                  1. re: BokChoi

                                    彩鳳臺, Full House on Hwy 7, it is not a chain restaurant.

                                    1. re: skylineR33

                                      Shocking - because I have seen a Full House at Midland and Finch. They not related then? I guess I never paid attention to its Chinese name. Thanks.

                                  2. re: skylineR33

                                    skyline,
                                    When we were there at the beginning of the week, it was $2.99 for the whole lobster.
                                    Must have been a special that day, but I always ask the price on any given day.
                                    There was lobster on almost every table, and everyone looked happy.
                                    In mid June they had Peking Duck 2 ways for $25.00, and almost every table was eating duck.
                                    We had friends from Germany with us, and they picked the bones clean.
                                    Charles, I didn't know that chicken lobster was a Canadian term.
                                    It is indeed a tender young lobster.
                                    I wasn't aware that the term referred to female only.

                                    1. re: erly

                                      Hi erly, I tried it around a month ago, it is half a lobster, I think maybe it was a bigger one back then so they cut it in half ?!

                                      1. re: skylineR33

                                        they were not large, but the family at the table next to ours said they were delicious.
                                        Probably had an abundance on Tuesday.
                                        Their prices change constantly, but are never really expensive.
                                        Also had a geoduck special about a month back.
                                        Can't remember the price, but it was a bit on the "chewy" side.
                                        I have always enjoyed the preparation of the lobster at Elegantview.
                                        One warning, always remind them not to remove the roe or lung.
                                        If you don't say anything, it disappears forever.
                                        This week they poached it for us separately, at no extra charge.
                                        It was delicious..
                                        That was a treat.

                          2. Another special that just came to my attention: Lobster on Fried Rice $13.80 + tax at Ruby Chinese Restaurant. Only available at lunch.

                            The lobster is sweet and not overcooked (as I would have expected). Rice has some preserved veggies that have a strong flavour, but overall, a solid dish. The entire bamboo steamer is then steamed with the lobster on top of the fried rice. Great value for the price. Enough for 4 easily.
                            Photo of Lobster Rice: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                            Photo 2 of Lobster Rice: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                            Cheers and Happy Eating!