Cafe Hollywood 荷里活餐廳 (Markham)

Café Hollywood is glitzier than the traditional Hong Kong-style café: the mega wattage signage that makes the restaurant a breeze to spot while driving or the two huge Oscar statutes flanking the doors. Their food, on the other hand, is merely the same with an extensive menu of inexpensive and plentiful options.

If you ever need a cheap date night, Café Hollywood has you covered. For under $20, the dinner combos include a soup, salad, accompanying starch (either rice, spaghetti, or French fries) and coffee or tea.

Sure, the small handful of spring mix with tart soy vinaigrette is a sad excuse for a salad … if you can even classify it as a salad, but the soup as bad – especially since it comes with a hot dinner roll that’s a pillow of sweet doughy goodness. Excuse me while I inhale the best part of the meal.  

To be fair, the “Russian” borscht is a far stretch – there’s no beets, caraway seed or onions in the soup. Rather, the Chinese version is tomato based and has a spicy kick to it, with the only common ingredient being cabbage. At Hollywood, theirs doesn’t even incorporate potatoes so it’s a rather watery affair aside from the oddly oily sheen (perhaps from chili oil) on top. There’s also a simple cream version made with chicken soup and dairy. No hearty soups here.

Yet, no one’s going for the starters. What patrons are waiting for is the main: a humungous plate of food that leaves you wondering if you can finish it and how you’ll feel the next day, if you did. Take the Hollywood mixed grill ($15.95) - it’s a mountain of meat: a pork chop, chicken thigh filet, slice of Korean beef rib, hot dog, and bacon. Having had a bite of my friend’s beef rib, it was good and I could easily have a plate of these on their own. Her only complaint was the uneven temperature of the proteins, some tepid or cool, likely from being mass produced for other dishes.

The same could be said for the Angus sirloin steak ($19.95), which arrived completely rare in the middle. Although I take my steak medium rare, it was still too undercooked for my taste, so a portion was left uneaten. Of course, I could have asked for it to be re-fired, but getting someone’s attention isn’t the easiest and since it was already smothered in gravy, putting it back onto the grill isn’t the easiest affair.

Nonetheless, the outer ring I ate was decent for the price. Obviously, the Angus flavour wasn’t as rich as dry aged versions. However, even undercooked it was relatively tender despite the dull useless steak knives given. In hindsight, my friend made a good point that it’s likely a miscommunication due to how we ordered: generally Chinese customers will request their meat’s doneness based on a percentage – so I should have requested it to be 50% done (rather than medium rare).

Luckily, there were plenty of fries to fill me up – once again, the run-of-the-mill frozen variety – but, warm and crispy enough to be satisfying (especially dipped into gravy). I only wondered how their frozen vegetables could be so dry, when these normally arrive water logged and soggy. Even the gravy couldn’t save these.

Café Hollywood isn’t going to bring home an award for Best Hong Kong-style café in Toronto anytime soon. Yet, there’s aspects of the restaurant that’s commendable: the large dining room that allows them to take reservations and their unhurried attitude (we stayed for almost two hours on a Friday – an unheard of time compared to competitors). Next time I’d stay with the traditional dishes – the baked rice looked delicious and baskets of fried wings seem popular. When it comes to a Hong Kong-style café, the glitzy offerings may be a poor choice.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 7240 Kennedy Road

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - 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!

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