Elegance Chinese Cuisine (Markham)

With so many Chinese restaurants across the GTA, there’s no shortage of options for eating dim sum. However, on weekends, demand is at its highest and it seems like wherever you go after 11:30 you’ll be doomed to wait for at least half an hour. Enter Elegance Chinese Cuisine. Somewhat hidden in a small plaza I didn’t even realize it was there until someone told me word-of-mouth. This means, that they’re not overly busy and upon arriving at 11 we instantly received a table.

At Elegance diners are given a sheet upon arriving and you simply select as many dishes as you desire (depending on the sizes about 3 per person is a good rule of thumb). However, they also have some “special” items which are wheeled around in a cart (think soups, braised offals, etc) to entice patrons if you’re still feeling hungry.

Personally, I’m a traditionalist and tend to enjoy the cart version of dim sum instead (you can read all about dim sum here). But, ordering off the menu does have its benefits: the food arrives piping hot, it’s generally faster and for those who don’t understand Cantonese is an easier option.

At Elegance, the frustrating thing is that everything comes in quick succession and you end up with a table full of items getting cold. Some traditional items ordered included the steamed squid with curry sauce (M; $4.20), which was very well flavoured with the savoury Singaporean style curry.

The steamed minced beef balls with vegetable (S; $3) were decent, but sadly arrived with not a vegetable in sight. The description is rather misleading as I would describe the beef to be more paste like than “minced”. It’s essentially processed until smooth and then steamed so that it becomes airy.

A crowd favourite is the sticky rice filled with assorted meats and conpoy wrapped in lotus leaf (L; $5.20). In the past, these use to be one large rice packaged stuffed with a piece of chicken, lap cheung (Chinese cured sausage), yun cheung (Chinese liver sausage), salted egg yolk and Chinese black mushroom. However, to cut down on cooking time and amount of ingredients, they have morphed into individual sized packages and is stuffed with a minced meat and mushroom filling instead. 

At Elegance, theirs is a cross between the old-fashioned and new aged method: they are miniature and uses the minced meat mixture but also has a piece of lap cheung and half a salted egg yolk with it.  This is one of the better versions of the dish eaten where I found their rice to be smooth and almost creamy.

The pan fried “tainam style” onion cake (M; $4.20) is predominantly a flaky pastry with minced onion in the middle. It’s very different from the green onion pancakes you’ll find at Shanghainese restaurants being much airier yet slightly greasy.

I recommend trying the steamed rice roll with crispy bean curd (L; $5.20), a great combination between the silky soft rice roll, crispy bean curd layer and succulent pork and shrimp filling. It’s enjoyable both with the warmed soy sauce or thicker sweet hoisin and nutty sesame sauce on the side.

During dim sum, it’s customary for the restaurant to add on a “tea” or “seating” charge. On the bill, you’ll generally see it as a one-line charge before the subtotal. It's generally about $1 a person and at Elegance is $1.20. All in all, Elegance serves a decent dim sum (perhaps a tad expensive for the quality) but if time is important to you, this would be a good option. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 20 Gibson Drive

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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!