Showing posts with label Chinese food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chinese food. Show all posts

Hong Shing (Toronto) for delivery


Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices (before 20% discount) and may be higher when using third party delivery services

There are a lot of great restaurants in North York/Midtown. Even so, sometimes I miss the options from downtown. With the dazzling array of choices and most offering delivery, eating diversely is not a problem for those south of Bloor.

Given the density of the downtown core, it’s no surprise that the delivery radius cuts off homes north of Yorkville. Sometimes, the area may expand to Eglinton, but the outer Toronto regions are deserted. Hence, Hong Shing’s pop-up deliveries to the outskirts of Toronto and beyond (Mississauga, Brampton) are such a blessing. The cities vary by day (check their website or Instagram), but place you order by 4pm and you’ll receive free delivery and they even honour the 20% online discount. 

What really captured my attention was the promise of fresh lobsters for the weekend. Between that and Chinese barbeque – two things I don’t make at home – I had a two-month long craving that yearned to be satisfied. So, dinner plans were changed and that evening we were having Chinese!

The pièce de résistance was of course the lobster e-fu noodles ($35). How they managed to jam so much food into a single container is staggering – even after eating two portions each there was still plenty of leftovers.

Despite travelling all the way from downtown to North York, the lobster remained surprisingly hot and not overcooked. Perhaps the flour coating the crustacean was a bit gluier than normal (note to chef: maybe only dust lightly?) but was still very satisfying. Even the e-fu noodles held-up nicely and didn’t become soggy, likely the better delivery option compared to chow mein.

Families regularly get Chinese barbeque to go, so it wasn’t a surprise that the roast pork ($15) and duck ($15 for half) delivered well. Without the diluted hoisin sauce, the pork just wasn’t the same, but the skin still crispy despite it being a rather lean cut. Meanwhile, the duck could have done without the liberal ladle of sauce into the container - that extra moisture rendered the skin soggy and made it so salty that adding any plum sauce would be overpowering.

The Chinese barbeque did work well as leftovers for the following days. Using the popular “KFC rice cooker” recipe as inspiration, the roast pork went into the rice cooker with 2-cups of rice, a teaspoon of bouillon, and a tablespoon of soy sauce to be transformed into a fragrant sticky rice and tenderized the lean meat. And after re-heating the duck in the toaster oven, it was combined with chewy noodles and broth for a tasty dinner.

Dishes that didn’t fair well for the drive were the honey spicy crispy beef ($14) and the deep-fried spicy squid ($14). Once they lost their heat it became dry and powdery and even re-eating them in the toaster oven only marginally improved the dishes. At least the spicy honey sauce on the beef was well flavoured; the spicy squid, on the other hand, needed a lot more seasoning.

It’s surprising that the squid wasn’t spicier considering Hong Shing’s hot and sour soup ($7 for a medium; equivalent of two bowls) was a flavour bomb! Whether it’s the sting of the vinegar or the kick of chili flakes, this was a great rendition of the soup incorporating plenty of tofu, vegetable slivers, and bamboo shoots.

Stir fried snow pea leaves ($14) is another quarantine craving of mine. The leafy vegetable is impossible to source through supermarket delivery and curb-side pickup, so I was elated when a packed container arrived. The neutral vegetable was an ideal pairing with the other heavier dishes.

Hong Shing’s online ordering system allows customers to choose whether they need cutlery, an option I hope all restaurants implement. Yet, whoever is packing the order doesn’t seem to care as our arrived with plastic cutlery and extra sauces anyways. For someone who is trying to reduce waste when dining under the “new normal” conditions, I really really would have preferred not to receive something that could be saved from the landfill.

We all need to do our part during this epidemic. Customers should support small businesses to ensure they continue and survive. Restaurants, please also consider your footprint on the environment and reduce unnecessary waste and packaging whenever possible. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 195 Dundas Street West
 Delivery: self-delivery, Uber, Skip the Dishes
Referral Discount Codes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 - wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Dasha (Toronto)


A big thank you to my friend Parv for these amazing photos. Her phone's fancy.
Chef Akira Back is steering away from his Korean upbringing and the Japanese restaurants he’s founded towards another part of the Orient: China. Dasha has an impressive dining area, the bright neon bar situated in the middle of a spacious room creates the feeling that you’re eating outdoors… just in a really comfortable environment. Opening in time for the holiday season was smart as the restaurant will undoubtly be a popular destination for holiday parties with their shareable plates and private karaoke rooms on the second floor.


If you ask for advice on the menu, you’ll probably be steered towards the standard safe options – dishes like Peking duck and salt & pepper shrimp. If you don’t normally eat Chinese food, I agree, these are tried-and-true dishes that will likely delight. But, they are also options you can get anywhere, so it’s the less known rendition of these dishes we wanted to try.

Since Dasha’s ducks are what they’re known for, we definitely had to try the fowl. Instead of Peking duck, we opted for the black truffle version ($45) instead. It was an impressive dish: the duck still roasted with that lovely crispy skin like the Peking dish, but then it’s enhanced with a black truffle duck jus poured tableside so the fowl’s richness also gets an earthy umami essence. There’s even a couple of black truffle shavings placed on top.


This was a fantastic dish that was the highlight of the meal. If only there was more of it, the small portion was best suited to be shared amongst two people. In general, Dasha’s dishes are diminutive so you’ll need at two per person with a side to satisfy.

In lieu of the salt & pepper shrimp, we went for the wasabi prawns ($14). The battered deep fried shrimp is tossed with a mild wasabi crema so there’s a faint taste of the condiment without stinging the nose. A great way to start and a tasty starter.


While the smoked ribs ($19) lacked smokiness, it’s nonetheless a decent dish. Immensely tender ribs – the meat can barely hold together on a fork – is stewed in a slightly sweet sauce and then rolled in panko crust so that it covers the sauce and gives the pork texture. The coating also helps protect your fingers a bit if you give up on cutlery all together and resort to your hands.


The nest adorning the angry chicken ($16) plate is a cute idea but the ingredients used to build up the nest isn’t necessarily the tastiest … the traditional shaved taro still does it best. I was also expecting a lot more spice for a something that’s described as being Szechuan. Instead, the heat is so subdued that the only way you get any spice is if you actually eat the bits of chili rendering the dish fairly forgettable.


To round out the meal, we added on a number of sides including green beans ($11), which is quickly stir fried with garlic and chili so that it’s flavourful without being all shriveled or too oily. I liked that it wasn’t overly cooked and added an element of freshness to the meal.


The seafood fried rice ($13) was rather disappointing, essentially plain soy sauce fried rice with bites of green onion served in a mound with dried scallop on top – it’s almost like XO sauce but less exciting and flavourful.


Go for the chow fun ($14) instead, the rice noodles well-tossed so that there’s plenty of wok hay and there’s some small sweet prawns and crunchy bean sprouts thrown in for contrast.


Dasha’s service is friendly and hospitality seemed to be top of mind for some elements – the manager came by to make sure we weren’t cold with the doors opening and closing.  At the same time, they also seem to unnecessarily rush people out of the restaurant. As soon as we sat down the two hour warning was announced, which is a well-known and understandable practice, but should also be followed only if necessary.

Two instances stood out with my experience, the first being the hyper attentiveness of clearing dishes. During the first hour, it was done as things were finished, but since the dishes were the shrimp, duck and pork ribs, these tend to be consumed at a quicker pace.

For the second half, when the sides were the main things arriving, it became annoying as people came around on a couple of occasions trying to clear plates that still had food on it. This made us stop the conversation and attempt to divvy up the rest of the food before we were ready. Chinese food is notorious for being eaten family style, so just leave the semi-finished item there and bring on the next dish… there’s no need to have things cleared away before the next plate arrives.

The second instance was at the end of dinner. Despite having over half an hour left to the two-hour window, no one came by to offer us dessert menus (turns out there isn’t one) or to see if we wanted anything else. Finally, with 20 minutes remaining, we ask our waitress if there’d be enough time for a round of cocktails. The dining room seemed to only be half occupied, so we thought we could buy ourselves an extra 15 minutes.

We’re advised that there wasn’t enough time, but that we could sit at the bar. Personally, I would have handled it differently by suggesting they could bring over the cocktails, but in the event the table was required, they would move us to the bar at that point. This ensures they get the extra margins and keeps diners happy. Really, for an establishment who just had the manager come around to make sure we were warm enough, hospitality seems to only be warm during a two hour window.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 620 King Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Dim Sum Queen (Toronto)


Aside from being an opportunity to gather friends and family, dim sum is also an excuse to gorge and indulge. Steamer-after-steamer and plate-after-plate of the small bites get placed on the table… just as quickly, it seems, things disappear. Who can keep track of what actually gets eaten?

When Dim Sum Queen opened in the neighbourhood, I had my doubts about its authenticity. From the outside, it looks nothing like a traditional Chinese restaurant and even the name seemed dubious. Yet with the limited dim sum options by my place and the fact that they accept reservations (!), we tried and we conquered (the steamers and plates that is).

Dim Sum Queen does not offer an early bird special, instead, dishes are always charged at the same rate: M ($4.50), L ($5.30), and XL ($6.50). While they don’t have any dishes sized as small, there is a fair selection at the medium range (for example, most of their buns). I'd opt for the BBQ pork (M) ones over the pan fried pork and vegetable (M) as the filling is much tastier. While the BBQ pork is stuffed with large pieces of meat in the traditional sweet sticky sauce, the pan fried buns lacked flavours and needed more vegetables. Moreover, weren’t fried long enough to develop a nice crust.


In general, a lot of the pan fried items could use more time in the pan. Their grilled turnip cake with preserved meat (M) was actually made really well with tons of ingredients and big chunks of turnip, but its lukewarm temperature couldn’t do it justice. The pan fried chicken pot sticker (L) was rather run of the mill, but with the right crunch against the soft filling, it could have been better. Out of all these types of dishes, the pan fried chives shrimp & cake (L) was the tastiest, maybe because its thinner wrapper requires less time on the flattop.


The wrapper on the shrimp dumpling har gow (L) is thicker than I typically like, but the shrimp was well-cooked so it retains its sweetness. For tables with odd numbers, the shrimp and snow pea leaves dumpling (L) may be a better choice as you get a similar shrimp filling but it’s balanced by the vegetables to give it an extra texture and flavour element.


While the pork and shrimp dumpling siu mai (L) doesn't look quite as nice as competitors (lacking that pop of colour on top), it tastes just as good. Dim Sum Queen is made for those who don’t eat pork as they also offer siu mai in tangerine beef (M) and chicken shitake (L) alternatives. The chicken has a similar texture but milder taste and I rather like the slight earthiness from the mushroom. Meanwhile, the beef is in a paste form and has a springy texture – similar to the steamed tangerine beef balls but denser.


Dim sum wouldn’t be the same without an order of rice rolls, the BBQ pork (L) was tasty and contained enough filling. For something different, the vegetarian spring roll version (M) uses a crunchy deep fried spring roll, which makes for such a great contrast against the soft silky wrapper.


While the steamed sticky rice with meat in lotus leaf (L) could use more filling, for what was there, it was flavourful. 


A bowl of the shrimp dumpling in soup (L) (sometimes known as Shanghai dumplings in other restaurants) is also great during the cold weather as they’re steamed in the bowl arriving piping hot. The plump shrimp are further enhanced by crunchy black fungus slivers.


Dishes that should be taken off the menu are the green onion pancake (M) and red bean pancake (M). The dough is much too dense, especially for a green onion pancake that’s normally known for the flaky layers. Moreover, the filling in each is so sparse that they really don’t taste like much.


On the other hand, dishes you should order are ones consisting of a sticky glutinous flour exterior that’s deep fried. The sesame seed and lotus paste balls (M) made fresh so they’re piping hot. What makes them stand out is the glutinous dough – it’s rather delicate so it’s not too dense but still has a lovely crispy crust. In the sesame seed ball, you bite through to be greeted with a lotus paste that’s thinned so it has a silkier texture but still a nice amount of sweetness.


For a savoury version, the deep fried meat & shrimp dumplings (M; 2 orders shown below) is similar but instead filled with bits of pork, mushroom, and shrimp.


While I wouldn’t say every dish at Dim Sum Queen is a hit, what I love that you’re able to visit on a whim and not have to wait. On busier days (think holidays), they still let you book reservations so it’s a great option for larger tables. Having been twice, on busy and slow days, the food and service quality remained consistent.

So, I take back my initial judgment. Maybe their name, signage, and dining room doesn’t look like a typical Chinese restaurant, but their food tastes just as authentic. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3241 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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Good Taste Casserole Rice 知味煲仔饭 (Markham)


If you’re looking for a filling meal for about $10, fast food restaurants isn’t the best choice. In the corner of a busy Chinese plaza sits Good Taste Casserole Rice. Here their combos are so large that sharing three amongst four people is perfect. Aside from the hefty pot of rice, each also arrives with soup and boiled vegetables.


The soup is piping hot after being steamed in individual pots. Inside the clear broth holds cubes of pork, papaya and white fungus. It’s unsalted so you’ll need a liberal sprinkling from the shaker at the table.

With dozens of casserole rice options to choose from, what to order depends not only on your preference but also the amount of crispy rice crust you prefer - in my opinion, the best part of the dish. Otherwise, you're really just eating baked rice with meat; why wait half an hour for that?

Although the preserved meats is normally not one of my favourite toppings, for casserole rice it's the best option as there’s less moisture resulting in a thick golden crispy crust. The assorted preserved meat ($10.99) contains lap cheung (sweet Chinese cured sausage), preserved duck, pork and fish so you get a bit of everything to sample. Good Taste doesn’t skimp on the ingredients with plenty of each.

With the salted fish and minced pork ($8.99), there's still a layer of crust on the bottom, but the thickness diminishes and isn't quite as crispy. With a fair amount of salted fish chunks, the casserole let’s off a pungent aroma – heavenly if you enjoy the ingredient, like dried sweaty socks if you don’t.


By the time you’re having a casserole rice topped with something like pork spareribs and black bean ($7.99) the crust becomes non-existent and tends to be hard and chewy. Of course, the spareribs is meatier and there’s a decent serving of it for the low price.


In the end, weather you enjoy a thick and crunchy crust or just a pot of soft moist rice, there’s an array to choose from at Good Taste Casserole Rice. Plus, the sheer amount of food you receive will be healthier and more filling than a burger combo any day.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 8392 Kennedy Road (Unit A9)
                  

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Good Taste Casserole Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fishman Wharf Seafood 漁人碼頭 (Markham)


When your restaurant’s named Fishman Wharf Seafood, there shouldn’t be customers wandering in hoping to get an amazing sweet and sour pork or sizzling beef plate. Indeed, the establishment’s focus is seafood, but in particular, Alaska king crab, which was a bit of a letdown as I really had a hankering for a lobster tower, without the added expense of the crab, and there little options for the tower without the aforementioned crab royalty.

Moreover, many set meals also includes shark fin and when asked if they can substitute it with something (perhaps crab meat?) the answer is no, but they can serve it on the side so those who would rather not have it can have their rice plain. Substitutions are definitely not encouraged.

You really need a group of at least six people to fully enjoy the restaurant – if you can round up a table of ten, even better. They’re known for their set meals and do offer a la carte dishes, but a tower can easily cost $100 on its own, so purchasing everything piece meal is definitely an expensive choice. Also, the restaurant assumes everyone at the table is a hungry teenager as our lobster seafood set for six ($258) was more than sufficient for seven of us; if we didn’t stuff our faces, the dinner could have even accommodated an eighth, despite the waitress urging us to add on a chicken.

The soup and dessert are the slow boiled varieties, both not overly exciting – pork with leafy dried vegetables for the soup and a papaya with white fungus for dessert - but at least flavourful and hot enough.


What I was there for was the eight pound lobster tower, for an extra $10 we changed the preparation ‘fried garlic’ to ‘Hong Kong style’ having heard it’s much tastier. The later still had tons of garlic, but also incorporated deep fried small whitebait fish and a bit of spice. Overall, a decent dish: the lobster not overdone, enough flavour without completely overpowering the seafood itself, and piping hot.


With a salted egg yolk batter covering the deep fried Vancouver crab, it’s different. At first almost offending, the oily powdery crust grew on me and the rich yolk contrasted well against the sweet crab – not unlike a less salty sharp cheese with seafood.


Despite being named deep fried eel, the ingredient likely only underwent a quick flash fry and then was stir fried with chilies and green onion. Normally, the eel has a gamier taste, but the stronger sauce helped mask this and was a tasty sauce.


Although the clam cooked in wine was rather plain (generally I prefer them stir fried with black bean sauce), after all the heavier deep fried dishes, it was nice to eat a less oily one. It’s a shame you can’t really sip the cooking broth – unless you like the taste of pungent Chinese cooking wine.


The steamed grouper was done in the “traditional” method with Chinese wolfberries (adds a light sour element) and black fungus. Also executed affably, but could use a little more soy sauce.  
Even Fishman’s vegetables incorporate seafood, the boiled yu choy incorporating slivers of dried cuttlefish (?) on top. It’s fine, but didn’t actually help enhance the dish.


To end, a large platter of shark fin fried rice. It wasn’t what I expected - a pyramid of fried rice in a pool of crab meat laced shark fin soup. Despite being morally against the shark fin, I have to admit the dish was delicious. However, with so many other elements, the shark fin really isn’t required; personally, I believe slivers of the spongy soft and crunchy bamboo innards (or jook sun) would be even better with the rice.  


Some things to keep in mind: they take reservations but only for large groups and payment is debit or cash only… not abnormal for Chinese establishments. After the meal, I certainly felt I had my fill of seafood.  Lobster, crab, eel, clams and fish … satisfied.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 4080 Steeles Avenue East


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Fishmen Wharf Seafood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato