Showing posts with label siu mai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label siu mai. Show all posts

Grandeur Palace 華麗宮大酒樓 (Toronto) for takeout

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

One thing I loathed about Grandeur Palace was their ridiculous wait times. I would channel my inner Zen master while waiting for a table on weekends. It was a test of patience that I rarely had, so while I really enjoyed Grandeur’s dim sum, it’s a restaurant I hardly visited.

Then COVID struck and now Grandeur’s pivoted to “all day” dim sum and from 10am - 3pm, essentially the normal brunch hours, any small, medium, or large dishes are $3.88. No trying to order before 11am, when the special pricing is normally in effect, there is now five blissful hours to get your dim sum hit.

The only small hiccup is getting an order placed, which essentially means going old school and calling in. Of course, there’s always the trusty delivery apps, but you’ll be paying a premium – the $3.88 dishes will instead range from $5.85 to $7 before all the ancillary charges. So, get used to redialing starting at 10am and after a dozen tries, you’ll hopefully get through.

As with all my other dim sum experiences, takeout and delivery just isn’t the same. As soon as the lid is lifted and the steam escapes, the dish starts to wilt - it’s as if the protein packed dumplings are a plant. The wrapper on the steamed shrimp chive dumplings starts getting sticky and hard (although Grandeur smartly places them further apart, so they don’t meld together). They’re just as huge as normal, but the filling is skimpy on the chives, so they end up tasting like har gow.

While still the size of a golf ball, the shrimp sui mai loses a lot of its juices so they’re much harder than at the restaurant and sits in a shallow pool of liquid causing the wonton wrapper to become soggy. But when you haven’t had one of these pork dumplings in a few months, it still tastes awfully good, despite the sad state.

Forget about the deep fried savoury glutinous dumplings with meat. Any crispiness disappears, and it becomes a sticky chewy ball. I have no one to blame but myself – of course anything deep fried would be a disappointment. But I so wanted a bite of that five-spice laced pork with the slightly sweet chewy wrapper. At least the flavours were still on point.

The steamed rice noodle with shrimp was the dish that’s closest to what you’d find at the restaurant. They’ve always made it a bit thicker, so it held up to the travels and the consistency and texture remained consistent.

Strangely, the glaze on the honey sauce beef short ribs ($7.68) sort of melts off, leaving the top pieces lacking flavours and the bottom soaking in sauce. Do yourself a favour and open the takeout container upside down so that the sweet sauce recombines with everything. It’ll taste a lot better.

Following traditions, I had to finish the meal with the stir-fried lobster e-fu noodles ($18.88). Grandeur doesn’t skimp on takeout, really packing the noodles into the container so it’s not the easiest to portion out without having lobster fly everywhere. If I were the restaurant, I’d add a bit more savoury sauce to cover everything since the noodles will get soft regardless – it would allow the noodles to stay untangled.

Perhaps the lobster e-fu noodles aren’t ordered with as much gusto in takeout as the crustacean didn’t taste the freshest – not rancid or off, just not nearly as clean as normal.  

While I’m glad it was an efficient meal from Grandeur – call to place an order, arrive at the stated time, go to the cashier area to tell them your number and pay, then bring the receipt to the takeout table to collect your order – the saying “good things come to those who wait” creeps into my mind. While the dim sum was passable, it wasn’t great. Who would have thought I’d actually miss the days were I would have to stand in line for 30+ minutes for a table? What I wouldn’t give for a test of patience now.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
  Address: 2301 Brimley Road
 Delivery: Uber and Skip the Dishes
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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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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

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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Crown Jewel Fine Dining for dim sum 御膳豪庭 (Toronto)


For as long as I can remember, weekends were a time for gathering family members (whether it be one other person or the entire 20 member gang) for dim sum. The meal consisted of varied bite-sized  dishes and desserts weren’t reserved as the last bites… eat it first, who cares!

As I’ve grown, dim sum has changed from a weekly to bi-weekly affair, but acting as the conduit for gathering family members, that hasn’t changed. How dim sum is enjoyed has morphed - lunch used to take longer as you waited for the must have dishes to be wheeled from carts to your table. With the exception of one or two restaurants, everyone has moved to the ordering method so waiting and surprises are things of the past.

To be fair, I don’t mind the transition, made-to-order food is hotter and fresher. You also rarely leave disappointed. Crown Jewel Fine Dining offers a decent selection at competitive prices: S for $3.50, M for $4.50, and L for $5.50, but on non-holidays if you order before 11am, S-L dishes will be $3.50.

Where Crown differs is the size of their dim sum. Their steamed shrimp dumpling har gow (L) and steamed shrimp & pork dumpling siu mai (L), are huge and about 50% larger than other restaurants while the taste is still relatively consistent.


Some dumplings could use more seasoning. The steamed vegetable dumpling (L) is a great vegetarian option containing snow pea shoots and prince mushroom slivers, but desperately needs salt. Similarly, the seafood dumpling in soup (L) is fairly bland despite containing chunky portions of various seafood and mushroom.


I’m glad restaurants are starting to offer more vegetarian options. A pumpkin congee with chestnut and corn (L) seems to grace most menus and truthfully is quite delicious. At Crown, they leave some pumpkin pieces strewn throughout the congee so it ends up having more texture and bite. The chestnuts also make the congee savoury.


If you prefer your congee with meat, the traditional pork and preserved egg (L) is available. At Crown, the pork is shredded rather than diced, which may make it easier for some to eat.


Of course, there are a host of other family favourites including steamed beef balls with vegetables (S), which were a little dense for my taste; silky steamed BBQ rice rolls (M) that had me reaching for seconds; and flavourful steamed curry cuttlefish (M), although the quality varies depending on the visit.


What surprised me the most were their buns, something I normally don’t order but in a large family setting someone’s bound to want. The Crown Jewel BBQ pork buns (L) have a slightly sweet crust and is stuffed with chunky pieces of BBQ pork – they’re similar to the ones you’ll find at Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan. These are now a must-order dish for me. 



The steamed lau sha custard buns (M) were also tasty, the fluid milky egg custard specked with pieces of salty egg yolk so it added a bit of saltiness without becoming overboard.


The deep fried shrimp spring rolls (L) arrive with a beautiful fried lattice on the bottom. However, the filling had little to no shrimp and instead tons of pork and a fragrant herb that I can’t identify.


Larger tables may want to “splurge” for an order of the clay pot rice ($8.80). It’s at least two times the size of what you’d find elsewhere and a bit of rice helps settle the stomach after the heavier proteins. There’s three versions to choose from but the ground chicken and octopus patty is one that’s generally not found elsewhere.


With so many of the dishes being larger than competitors, the mango pudding (M) was shockingly sparse with two palm sized gold fish in the order. The Chinese description also notes it arrives with ice cream - in reality it’s canned whipped cream, but admittedly an improvement over evaporated milk.


Not all desserts were small. Crown certainly doesn’t skimp on the beans in their clear red bean jelly (M); the dessert was bricks of soft beans solidified in a lightly sweetened jelly. The coffee and cream jelly (M) was also a sizeable portion and had a hefty kick of coffee flavours.


If you need an excuse to gather a group, why not look into trying dim sum? There’s tons of options and doesn’t cost much to try something new. My family has been doing it for decades.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 325 Bamburgh Circle

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:



Crown Jewel Fine Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato