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Toronto Trip Report Sept. 2014

Next time I organize a chowmeet, why don't you join us?

about 11 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarborough Authentic Chinese

Tough one!!
Only decent one that comes into mind, assuming transit takes you up to Kennedy and Sheppard, is good Cantonese at Maple Yip on Sheppard.

about 11 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarborough Authentic Chinese

I'll do my best!
But first, which major intersection is Kennedy Subway on?!

about 16 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

best pastas in Toronto, 2014

Love any pasta with Shrimp, Octopus, garlic and capers. Some added clams will be even better!

about 20 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

'Shanghai Dim Sum', Richmond Hill - Newly opened and a great Shanghainese food destination

A few years back, shortly after their opening, ex-chowhounder SkylineR33 and I had a memorable and enjoyable chowmeet at this restaurant's Scarborough flag ship location. At that time, they provided the tastiest and most authentic Shanghainese food experience in the GTA. Unfortunately, rumor of its going down hill prevented me from further visits since it was quite a drive to Scarborough from my home up north.

The news that they recently opened up a branch at the corner of Hwy#7 and Chalmers, with confirmed reassurance from foodie friends that their food is back on par with their previous best, is indeed good news to me and fellow food lovers who lived up north!

Our party of 4 dined at this 'full of Nostalgic Old Shanghai decor and music' place on a Sunday evening. The place was packed, a calming good sign!. The size of our party allowed us to order a potpourri of cold and hot appetizer and main dishes. These included:

- Minced Wild Chinese Greens with Preserved Dried Tofu ( Mah Lan Tau )
- Wine marinated Mud Whelks ( raw )
- Jellied Chinese Cheesehead
- Crispy Sesame Crepe Pocket with Minced Pork Stuffing.
- Mini Xiao Lun Bao. ( Soup Broth filled Dumplings )
- Spicy Dan Dan Noodles
- Shanghainese Wok Fried Head-On Shrimps
- Gon Pao Chicken Cubes
- Stirred Fry Preserved Chinese Radishes with Fava Beans and Air Dried Pork Belly ( forgot to take photo of this dish! Sorry! ).

Overall, the wonderful meal we had provided us with an amazing varied array of taste, texture and smell. A delightful change from the common and frequently tried Cantonese cuisine.

Stand out dishes included the rare Wine marinated Mud Whelks. Sweet and full of alcohol Oomp!! The complex sweet taste and chewy texture was second to none! A rare treat!
Noodles used in the Dan Dan Noodles was super-fine but cooked perfectly al-dante. Broth has the right amount of peanut seasoning and thickness. I also loved the way the kitchen toned down the heat a touch. ( which one can always kicked back up by adding the chili oil furnished on the table ).
Star of the evening has to go to the Shrimp. Wow! The sweet, full of wok-hay taste and the crunchy and crispy shell was amazing. We ate the whole thing, head and all!
The authentic tasting Gon Pao Chicken, sans western influenced diced carrots, onions and bell peppers, was my son's favorite. The smile on his face whilst gobbling down the Chicken and Peanut morsels said it all.
The dainty Miniature Xia Lun Bao was a delight to eat. Smaller than the norm and hence less scorching hot, the broth and pork filling was tasty and full of umami sweetness.

Rest of the dishes were at par if not better than a lot of their competitor's offering. One dish fared less successful though - The Mah Lan Tau. Sika Deer's version, with better seasoning and bigger portion was better.

I cannot wait for my next visit to try out their Aromatic Crispy Duck,
the Shanghainese Smoked Fish, Pot-Stickers and may be the rare but expensive $29.99 'Fried Shredded Live Eels with Yellowing Chives and Bean Sprouts!

I'll be back!!
108 - 330 Hwy 7 East
Richmond Hill

about 20 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarborough Authentic Chinese

I would include nearby Markham as part of your authentic good food search destination!
For Wok Hay Cantonese fare, there's Maple Yip, Lychee Garden and Fantasy Eatery
For Authentic Peking Duck there's Dayali. How ever I personally like the Casa Victoria version better
For fine dining, I like the two Casas - Victoria and Imperial. The former my favorite.
For comfort food like Won Ton noodles - Won Ton Hut
For authentic Shanghainese - There's Shanghai Dim Sum on Sheppard or Sika Deer on Finch/Midland. Love there XLB, pot-stickers, Dan-Dan noodles. They also feature some great cold appetizers as well as some nicely executed wok-hay stirred fry dishes.
For Northern/Sichuan spicy fare there are La Mere, Yu-Chuan, Ba Shu Ren Ja..etc
How long a stay will you folks be? Choices are unlimited!!

about 23 hours ago
Charles Yu in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarborough Authentic Chinese

What specific type of regional cuisine are you looking for??
'Chinese' encompasses Cantonese, Pekingnese, Shanghainese, Sichuan, Chiu Chow.....etc etc. And the list goes on and on!! Scarborough offers ALL types!

Sika Deer in Scarborough - my new Shanghainese fav in GTA

Hay RoyalJelly!
'Shanghai Dim Sum' ( Sheppard/Brimley ) just opened up a branch inside Chalmers in Richmond Hill. Had dinner there tonight and some of the food was amazingly good. IMHO, better than Sika Deer. I'll be doing a write-up once I received the photos from my kid ( forgot my tools! Ha!). Had a dish of hard to find 'Wine marinated Mud Whelks' So delish! Sweet and laden-ed with alcohol potent-ness!

Lucullus Bakery -

" The best BBQ pork buns that one can find in Canada which come in a natural color, not those glossy red. " - This is a very BOLD statement!

From a GTA Chinese Bakery, may be? But not when the same product is being offered as Dim Sum in a restaurant! eg., Skyview on Woodbine. The latter, piping hot, more generous filling, more sauce and more flavorful.

BTW, on the 'other side of Canada', New Town Bakery in Richmond, BC IMO offers a version that is better than Luculus!!

The Chairman (Hong Kong) - what are the must try dishes?

As a seafood option, they have a baked house sun-dried jumbo oyster with honey glaze. Very additively good.
They also offer an awesome deep fried small yellow crocker. Might add to your cost per person though?
No beef? Ask them for their braised ox-tongue!
Happy chowing!!

Hit and miss experiences at 'another' Congee place - Mr. Congee, Richmond Hill

Hello Darwud,

I had noodles ( Pho? ) there once, years ago. ( My wife and I were buying health food in Ambrosia? ). Did not try their congee.

imho, Congee, like Sushi is an 'art'. Great Congees take 3 different types/blend of rice to give it the smooth, aromatic and velvety texture. Yuba skin and dry scallops are also added to give the base the necessary umami taste.
Nowadays, due to cost consideration, few restaurants are willing to go through all the tedious steps. Congee Queen claims to do that, but I have my reservations!

Disastrous meal at 28 Lister steakhouse in Hamilton

Bad food horror stories I have lived through and heard quite a few. But for the owner to ask the patron for recommendation for a new chef?! Wow! Now, that's a first!!

Hit and miss experiences at 'another' Congee place - Mr. Congee, Richmond Hill

Nestle in a quiet corner lot on Yonge Street, directly across from H- Mart, is another newly opened Chinese Congee place - Mr. Congee Chinese Cuisine. In the past year, so many such type of eateries had sprung up like wild weed all over the GTA, I am starting to lost count.

If the food is good, this will be a welcome addition to this culinary void of Richmond Hill. However, my concern is that, IMO, this is also a 'death spot', which, in the past have seen numerous failure openings including, Sports Bar, Sushi Restaurant and a branch of the now defunct 'Regal Palace'.

The restaurant is house in a huge cavernous modern space, totally gutted and renovated. Very spacious and comfortable with an acceptable noise level due to the high ceiling. Modeled in the same format as Congee Queen, it also features an open BBQ Meat display unit at the back of the house.

We tried the following dishes after two recent luncheon visits:

- Stirred Fry Clams with Garlic Black Bean Sauce.
- BBQ Duck and Roast Pork Combo
- Pineapple and Seafood Fried Rice.
- Geoduck Congee
- Shredded Pork in Penny Hot Sauce Lo-Mien
- Braised Beef Innards Rice Noodles in Soup.

First visit:

The arrival of our first dish, the Clams, provided us with a very positive initial impression. Piping hot, perfectly cooked and tasting delicious, the Clams were plump and enormous. A great value! Though the BBQ duck was a touch over-charred, however, the taste was authentically complex. A sign that the kitchen did not cut corner with the seasoning. The crispy skin roasted Pork was moist, juicy and equally enjoyable. Nicely presented, the fried rice, generous with ingredients, was full of wok-hay flavor and well executed. Overall, a very enjoyable first meal.

Second visit:

Unfortunately, this visit was a total reversal of our first! Bad experiences all round. Can a place went downhill that fast?

Texture of the Rice Congee was way overly thick, the taste bland and lifeless. The 4-5 ultra thin slices of Geoduck clams, size of a nickle, rendered this a really pitiful dish! With such a pathetic Congee product, naming their restaurant ' Mr. Congee' really bugs me?! Taste and texture of the shredded pork in hot sauce noodles was good and should me acceptable if it wasn't for the imbalanced stingy topping on top of an excessive amount of noodles. Half the dish was left untouched because of the lack of sauce and topping and quickly dried up noodles. The Braised Beef Innards Rice Noodle did not fare any better. The innard morsels were under-seasoned, tough and undercooked, the broth tasted one dimensional and boring. 'My Wonderful Kitchen' on Hwy7 offers a much more superior product. If blind folded, I would have sworn this meal was from a totally different place!

IMO, the jury is still out on this place. Based on how busy and full this place was after the normal lunch hour, there must be things they are doing right. The huge portions for one. However, if quality of the food continue to be this inconsistent, I'm afraid their chances of survival might not be better than Ebola!!

Best Dim Sum and Chinese in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

We actually chatted about Cantonese Wok-Hay places in Markham/Richmond Hill about 3 years ago! Time flies!!

Best Dim Sum and Chinese in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Hello fellow Torontonian!!
Yes, the Hysan Avenue Pak Loh is the 'Flag Ship' and has been in that location for years!!

best pastas in Toronto, 2014


Hong Kong - Xiao Long Bao

IMO, competition is so fierce amongst the top tier Shanghainese restaurants, their quality are pretty close and similar and pretty hard to differentiate. Very often it boils down to the taste of the individual. In my case, I like my filling to have more 'wine' marinade and a saltier broth.
Some of the old stalwarts and new establishments that I have tried and liked include:
Jardin de Jade, Liu Yuan Pavillion, Naxiang Steamed Buns, New Shanghai, Snow Garden, Wu Kong, Ye Shanghai and Zhejiang Heen.
If you have connection, then try visiting the private club, Shanghai Fraternity Association. They offer one of the best product in town!
Have fun taste testing!

In search of authentic French Apple Tart - 'Tarte au Pomme Normande'

'Tis the season for all pies, tarts and cakes - Apple!!

In the past, I have been getting my fix for good French Apple Flan from either Rahier or Thorbor. However, nowadays, I am finding them a bit too sweet. As well, I would like a change of scenery and try something new.
Whilst living in Paris, I was introduced to a gorgeous French Apple tart - Tarte Normande. Sweet shortbread crust, layered with a touch Vanilla cream and topped with Apple pieces and roasted almond slices. Lovely taste and texture.
Any idea who in town make a version like this or something similar? ( say, Tarte Brittany?! ) Thanks in advance!

Best Dim Sum and Chinese in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

+1 for YTH.

Actually Regal Palace on top of the Regal Hotel is pretty fine too.

For good Chiu Chow cuisine, there's Pak Loh on Hysan Avenue. Beware of the 'Cold flower crab' though, can get pretty expensive! Check market price before ordering!

Best Dim Sum and Chinese in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Dim Sum and Cantonese: Seventh Son, Fook Lam Moon, Forum. ( First two, kind of borderline WanChai/Causeway Bay ). Slightly inferior, Fu Sing. But FS has awesome Pineapple BBQ Pork Buns, Chau Siu and roasted pork belly!

Shanghainese: Snow Garden, Din Tai Fung. Lau Yuen Pavillion ( again LYP is borderline Wan Chai/CWB )

Hole in the wall: Se Wong Yee for Snake soup, air dried duck liver sausages and BBQ meat

Ho Hung Kee: Won ton noodles ( personally, prefer Mak An Kee in Sheung Wan ) and 'Gone Chau Ngau Ho aka stirred fried rice noodle with beef. Quality can be inconsistent!

Game meat in Hong Kong?

Some suppliers fly them in but usually there is a big minimum order such as a whole leg or side ( wild boar, venison, elk, buffalo ) or 6 birds etc. Info from mouth of Chef Lai of On-Lot-10.

Sushi Kaji or Yasu? Birthday meal plans.

I was about to ask the same question!

best pastas in Toronto, 2014

" Uni Tagliolini" at Shiso Tree Cafe in J-Town. Fresh BC sea Urchins and house made pasta in a delicious, creamy, unctuous sauce ! Yummmm!

Am I detecting a pattern here?? - Ridiculous rating by Toronto Life reviewers on great restaurants

Next time, (if there is a next time??!!) I will make sure to run my posting through my wife, accountant, lawyer and spiritual counselor.... before pressing the 'Post' button! :D

Am I detecting a pattern here?? - Ridiculous rating by Toronto Life reviewers on great restaurants

Never in my widest imagination did I expect an innocent posting by me, expressing an interesting observation based on past experiences and current facts, to mushroom into such a saga?!
Funny thing is, after 61 postings, I am still unsure whether the food currently offered at 'Blacktree' is still the usual high 3*+ standard ( per TL rating ) or they have indeed gone down hill, due to some unspecified reason, to a mediocre 1* as depicted in TL's latest edition?!

Help me out with my Markham Food Tour

Yup!! Haven't ordered the 'King' lunch time though!

Help me out with my Markham Food Tour

@ themiguel
Hello chow-friend,
Our party of 9 ate at Dragon boat yesterday evening.
Here are photos of a few delicious dishes we ordered for your reference and consideration:
- Wok fried live BC Spotted Prawns with Maggi Sauce
- Roasted Suckling Piglet with marinated Jelly Fish
- Wok Fried Diver Scallops with Chinese Preserved Olive Tapenade and Sun Dried Prawns.
- Sweet and Sour Yellow Fin Grouper Filet
- Whole Free Range Chicken poached in Herbed Premium Soya Sauce.
Of all the aforementioned dishes, the only slight disappointment was the supposedly crispy Sweet and Sour fish which looses its crispiness after a while. I would suggest ordering their Sweet & Sour Pork instead.

Am I detecting a pattern here?? - Ridiculous rating by Toronto Life reviewers on great restaurants

I am sorry if I made a mistake in choosing the wrong word or adjective ( ridiculous ) in the title of my write-up. ( after all English is not my mother's tongue ).

However, the goal and objective of my posting, taken in its entirety, is still valid. And that is, to solicit feedback and opinion as to whether the restaurant rating from one of the city's authoritative publication is correct or way wrong. The fact that one of the best restaurant in and around the GTA, which only recently still garner a 31/2* rating for its superb cuisine, gets demoted suddenly to a mediocre 1* deserves a chowhound mention? This is made even more fascinating and mysterious when our fellow trusted hound 'Estufarian', whom I shared a very similar palette, just made a recent visit in mid-August and posted a raving review of the food!

As one of my favorite high-end western cuisine restaurant, I sure do not want to drive all the way from Richmond Hill to Burlington for a special night out, only to find the food has indeed deteriorated in recent days or week?!

Rather than focusing on the subject and facts at hand, it is disparaging to see unwarranted sarcastic and hostile remarks being directed at the poster in person. And for the incorrect use of a single word, at that!

Does that mean now, we cannot post impromptu write-up, but rather has to have the article proof-read for grammar, wordings and more importantly political correctness before pressing the 'POST' button? :(

Help me out with my Markham Food Tour

John's 'King of Char Siu' is a special ' made to order' dish requiring a wait time of about 15+ minutes. The cut used is the better 'center loin', hence the texture is more tender. As well, the meat is hot and not cold or luke warm.

Am I detecting a pattern here?? - Ridiculous rating by Toronto Life reviewers on great restaurants

Seriously, as fraternity members, we should all lighten up, be more courteous towards each other and practice the etiquette of posting on open forums!

The title and nature of my original posting was in the form of a 'question'! Based on dining experiences of myself and other trusted hounds at the aforementioned restaurants, I was merely expressing my own observation and try to solicit feedback and opinion as to whether Toronto Life's rating was correct or ridiculously wrong. At no time was I trying to invite confrontation let alone solicit 'personal attacks'.

May be it is time for me to follow the footsteps of a number of long standing hounds, take a break and step aside?! At no time during my 15+ years of contributing on this board have I been subjected to so much 'aggression'?!