Casa Imperial Fine Chinese Cuisine 名門金宴 (Toronto)

At first glance, you wouldn’t think Casa Imperial is a Chinese restaurant, much less one that serves authentic dim sum. Set in an altered mansion, the baroque details, gilded frames, and sparkly chandeliers suggests the place would serve more high tea than jasmine tea.

Even though they do not offer an early bird special, the restaurant is still fairly busy, especially on holidays and special occasions – skip Mother’s Day unless you like waiting around and fuming. As for their pricing, it’s in line with the regular menus found elsewhere: $3.80 for small, $4.80 for medium, and $5.80 for large with $1.50 per person tea charge.

My must-have dish is a siu mai (L). The conpoy (dried scallop) topping the pork and shrimp dumpling adds little to the experience and gives the dish a boring beige appearance. Nonetheless, the siu mai itself is tasty; a balanced combination of filling to ensure it’s hearty but not hard.

For something a little more Instagramable, the scallop and spinach dumpling (L) has a nice pop of colour. It’s also fairly flavourful with enough seasoning added to the shrimp filling and wrapper, compared to other places.

Casa Imperial certainly isn’t afraid to lay on the spice, there’s plenty of it in the curry sauce marinating the steamed baby cuttlefish (L). The seafood is enveloped in salt and heat, to the point that you may want to ensure there’s a neutral rice dish to pair with the cuttlefish.

Something like a steamed rice pot, as the sticky rice with conpoy and chicken in lotus leaf (L) already has a lot going on in the fragrant parcel. Aside from the chicken and dried scallop, there’s also pieces of Chinese cured sausage and salted egg yolk, traditional fillings that have been substituted by cheaper minced pork at other restaurants.

The crispy bean curd rice roll with shrimp and pork (L) is such a great combination of textures. Soft silky rice rolls surrounds a shrimp and pork sausage like filling that’s encased in a crunchy bean curd sheet. It’s a little heavy, so make sure there’s at least four of you to share.

Our meal seemed to include a lot of things that spent time in the deep fryer. The crispy meat dumplings (S) and chicken wings with lemon grass (L) both arrive hot, hot, hot! While they’re nothing to rave about, they’re still solid offerings, especially when they’re so fresh from the fryer.

It’s not every day you’ll find fruit mixed with shrimp. In reality, the peach in the crispy spinach nest shrimp roll with peach (L) is simply the puree dipping sauce on the side. The puffy spinach laced batter is pretty, but also fairly oily… I personally still enjoy the plain Jane bean curd sheets. Yet, this combination was better for my denture wearing grandmother, who had no difficulties biting through the airy crust.

Same with the soft black sesame dumpling coated with cashew nut (L), a ball of sticky glutinous rice filled with a warm oozing black sesame paste and covered with powdered and crushed cashews to keep everything from sticking together. It’s a nice way to finish after all the deep fried dishes that graced the second half of brunch.

If you’re not a fan of leftovers, Casa Imperial’s portion sizes are larger than normal, so you’ll want to order less and add on later. Or you’ll just have to get a bigger group together – four or six works best – so that each person gets a mouthful of the dishes. It’s the sampling and varied bites that makes dim sum such a great experience. Even if the oil-based paintings doesn’t make it feel like you’re in a Chinese restaurant.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4125 Steeles Avenue East

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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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