Put down the sweet and sour chicken balls and get a clue. Toronto is a paradise of authentic Chinese cuisine. We start with downtown – where Cantonese is (mostly) king. Next week: The best Chinese food of the ’burbs.
The name may be strange, but service is friendly, prices are reasonable and the menu is incredibly authentic – and staggeringly long. The best bet: Get the Peking duck, perhaps the city’s finest, and – if you’re with a large group – the lobster, both part of the well-priced Dinner for 10 option. Mains, $12. 369 Spadina Ave., 416-260-9988.
Chef/owner Zhen brings her mother’s recipes from Shenyang to Spadina. New, spacious digs means more room for lovers of the comfort-cuisine of Northeast China. Highlights include tender pork and dill dumplings, green onion pancakes and beef-onion rolls. Mains, $6 – $8. 421 Spadina Ave., 416-217-2008.
Lai Wah Heen
This serene, formal space in the Metropolitan Hotel delivers the city’s most upscale Chinese dining experience, marrying flawless Cantonese cuisine with foie gras, truffles and an exceptional wine list. The Chinese BBQ Platter – including pork, jellyfish and soy-marinated chicken – is a must, though a lunch of delicate and innovative dim sum is tough to beat. Mains, $16 – $48. 108 Chestnut St., 416-977-9899.
This Chinatown standard has no carts; the tablecloths are plastic and the service is perfunctory. Still, there’s a reason this place is packed on weekends. More precisely, there are many reasons. Here are a few: Sticky rice in lotus leaves, deep fried squid, siu mai, shrimp rice rolls with Chinese donuts. Mains, $10 – $12. 323 Spadina Ave., 416-977-1128.
Image courtesy of sparktography.