Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin. Show all posts

MIMI Chinese (Toronto)

Gathering dishes from across the country, MIMI Chinese's menu showcases the different flavours and ingredients in China's Sichuan, Guangdong, Hunan, Shaanxi, and Canton provinces. Think of it as a crash course on figuring out what you like as you dig into the fiery chilies of Sichuan or the saucier multi-flavour dishes from Guangdong. The educational experience is held in a dark dining room on comfortable plush banquettes with dishes featuring traditional spices and preparations so you can expect to taste authentic interpretations.

The crossed arm dumplings in red oil ($26) may sound like a starter for grumpy old men, but is named after the way the  wonton wrappers are folded and the two tips meet. Having made many dumplings in my youth, this style is much quicker to prepare, compared to the pleated variety, and also allows more filling to be used.  

Indeed, each thumb length dumpling at MIMI was stuffed with plenty of the pork and scallion mixture, which could have used more seasonings such as Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, or soy sauce. Maybe it's due to the thicker wrappers or there not being much heat within the "red oil" condiment, but the dish was rather devoid of flavours despite the colourful look. The oil is described as roasted chicken oil, which leads me to believe they use the leftover oil from deep frying chickens to make this condiment, something that sounds great in theory. In reality, it doesn't add much additional flavour and really the oil could benefit from more chilies and something pungent like shallots. 

I can't recall that last time I had shrimp toast ($21 for four pieces; $5.50 for extras), but I must have been young as this dish has been removed from dim sum menus as customers become more health cautious. Pieces of soft white bread sandwich a mild shrimp paste and is deep fried and topped with a sesame crust. The crispy toast was bang on - the crunchy exterior and slight leak of oil is reminiscent of childhood memories. 

Since MIMI uses two pieces of bread (restaurants previously used an open-faced sandwich format), the carbs did drown out the shrimp taste. The toast could benefit from more filling or incorporating pieces of diced shrimp in order to give it a stronger seafood essence. 

The scallion and ginger sea bass ($59) uses white leek but lacks ginger making it a fairly neutral main. The soy sauce and scallion oil is poured table side instead of directly from wok to dish, which while nice for presentation purposes, means it lacks the "scalding" properties that crisps the skin a bit and causes the sauce to more deeply permeate the meat. All in all, it was a pretty plain tasting dish and is for those who really want to enjoy the fish's flavours - at least it was well cleaned and tasted fresh. 

For those who are afraid of bones, this dish is perfect as everything is pretty much removed (all I found was one really thin small piece). While the lack of bones makes it much easier to eat, it does mean the fish cools quicker, so be sure to tuck into it right after the sauce is poured.  

Presented at the table with a flourish was the four foot belt noodle ($26), stretched to showcase its length before being cut into more manageable two inch segments. While not a terrible dish, the noodle could be thinner as we found it a tad chewy and the sauce needed something else for interest. Although the noodle was covered with a fair amount of chili oil, a salty richer flavour like bean paste or a complex XO sauce would have been a great addition. 

I preferred the supreme fried rice ($28), filled with umami flavours thanks to the dried scallop, salted egg, and lap cheong sausage. These ingredients do make the rice a tad dry, which MIMI ties to combat by adding diced vegetables and scallions into the dish. Really, I think if there was just more rice to mix with all the other ingredients it would provided the needed moisture.

Their vegetable dishes are fairly plain (stir fried gai lan or cabbage), we decided to try the chilled pumpkin and snow melon ($10), which are ribbons of the squashes tossed with Shaoxing broth. For those who can't handle spice, this would help counteract the heat of other dishes. For us, we found it almost seemed out of place and dessert-like due to the sweet after taste.

Be sure to listen to their feature dishes, we ordered both and they were my favourite of the evening. 

The Cantonese chicken ($28) is your traditional fried chicken with shrimp chips. It was executed perfectly at MIMI: the skin delicate and crispy, the meat very juicy, and there wasn't an ounce of pink on the bone (something that can be found at Chinese restaurants and make some squeamish).

I loved how the kitchen took the razor clams ($26) and chopped it to pieces and mixed it with wine, garlic, vermicelli, and other herbs before steaming the crustacean. With each bite you get different flavours and textures, a lovely seafood special. 

Being Chinese, I'm probably more difficult to impress as I've had so many experiences in my lifetime that there's often a comparable or better version of a dish previously eaten. While some dishes were a little bland for my taste, how the ingredients were prepared and the dishes executed were fantastic. What is also great about MIMI is their approachability and friendly service, a quality that can sometimes be lacking at Chinese restaurants.   

I can already imagine the pundits' responses: there's nothing special about the dishes and you can find them cheaper elsewhere. There is truth to this statement, the dishes aren't "westernized" and presented in the traditional format, albeit with more attention to plating. And the menu prices are much higher than the casual family establishments and still more than the banquet style restaurants. However, applaud MIMI for keeping with traditions and to allow customers, who may be hesitant to visit a Chinese restaurant, to try dishes that are not the General Tao variety they might have otherwise. As for the prices, just be mindful about their Yorkville rent and the higher labour costs (there were a lot of servers, all of whom are fluent in English). 

MIMI likely won't be the place your mom, dad, or grandparents will be love, but it is where you bring your friends who want to expand their taste bud experience beyond the Cantonese-focused menus that are typical in Toronto. It's where they will be able to try items from a variety of regions and they won't need your help interpreting the menu or translating. All you need to do is sit back, relax, and eat. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 265 Davenport 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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