CLOSED: Maple Yip Seafood Restaurant 陸羽海鮮酒家 (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4227 Sheppard Avenue East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Some of the best ethnic restaurants are tucked away in a non-descript plaza in the suburbs. Maple Yip is no different and has been a family favourite for years. It’s not a fancy, but perfect for casual family dinners with prices to match.

They are known for some of dishes that require 48 hours advanced notice. Their winter melon soup ($48 for the large) is great for the winter as the soup stays hot within its vessel throughout dinner. For smaller tables they also have a tinier version, simply tell them your table size and they’ll make one accordingly. However, large tables can always opt for a medium one as there is just so much soup! With ten of us and the large version we each had two bowls and still had plenty leftover.

Winter melon soup is essentially a fragrant broth made with chicken, Chinese cured ham, dried and fresh scallop, shrimp, crab, Chinese mushroom and other dried herbs. It’s all placed into the hollowed out squash and steamed for hours to infuse the melon’s sweet juices into the rich soup.

As it’s eaten, you scrape off the melon’s sides to enjoy with the soup, which is pretty bland by itself but lightens the flavourful broth.

Another dish I highly recommend is the deep fried glutinous rice stuffed chicken ($38). An entire deboned chicken (except the legs and wings) has its cavity filled with a sticky rice mixed with Chinese cured sausage (lap cheung) and mushrooms. After cooking they deep fry it so that the skin is golden red, light and crispy.

On the inside, the chicken meat remains juicy and tender. The sticky rice was the highlight mixed with all the chicken’s juices – it’s fragrant and flavourful.

If you don’t want a full chicken, another dish I’ve enjoyed is their crispy chicken topped with ginger and scallions ($9.95). Unfortunately, it’s not on their regular menus (it’s on one of those papers tacked along the wall). So, be mindful not order the steamed version on their regular menu; this is the crispy one called “yow lum giy” in Cantonese.

The chicken is essentially like the deep fried chicken with rice crackers you’d find at most Chinese restaurants. Then they douse is in a sweet diluted hot soy sauce (similar to what accompanies steamed fish) and top it with tons of green onions, ginger and deseeded chilies. That combination of crispy skin, juicy meat, sweet/salty sauce and fragrant herbs is simply delicious.

Maple Yip’s stir fried double lobsters with green onion and ginger ($34.95) was admittedly not the best. The lobsters, perhaps were smaller than normal, ended up looking shrunken due to the tinier pieces. But, there was a good flavour to the dish.

A special for the night was an old fashioned steamed grouper tail ($27). A meatier fish, the grouper was cooked well and topped with slivers of onion, orange peel and other items which added great flavours against the neutral fish. Its larger bones are also perfect for those who aren’t use to eating bone-in steamed fish and are squeamish about swallowing them in the process.

The stir fried clams ($9.95) had a decent fragrant black bean sauce but the seafood itself was rather small and there wasn’t much to eat.

Maple Yip’s chili shrimp and eggplant ($9.95) certainly has some heat to it. Served in a clay pot it’s piping hot (be careful) and allows it to be left out for a while retaining its temperature. Although timing is not an issue here as they whip out dishes in quick succession. In fact, most of the time, this is the problem with their service: you will have gotten the winter melon soup and before you even finish the first bowl other dishes will start arriving.

The deep fried pork chop with spicy salt and pepper ($7.95) was crispy and satisfying. If you like it spicier, wait for a piece in the middle or bottom that’s covered with the chili and salt mixture.

Meanwhile, the sweet and sour pork ($7.95), although having a great sauce, could have been cut into larger pieces. I found it a tad doughy and lacked the juicy pieces of meat I enjoy.

Most dishes are enjoyed best with steamed rice. But, if you’re already ordering the rice stuffed chicken and would like another starchy dish, the stir fried e fu noodles with mushrooms ($8.95) is reasonably priced and tasty. Just be aware of the spongy texture of the noodles – some may find its softer springy texture strange.

Despite most dishes being under $10, their vegetable dishes are pricier, but the portions are substantial. Below is the stir fried prince mushroom with bean shoots, although $16.95 is a satisfying dish.

Maple Yip is hidden in the corner at the back of the plaza whose entrance can easily be missed. But, it’s worth the search and plenty of people have found it. So, do yourself a favour and make a reservation to avoid disappointment. And be sure to order the winter melon soup or deep fried glutinous rice stuffed chicken if you’re visiting with a crowd.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -

Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!