Here is some better dim sum than last reported on from Minnesota. The dim sum at Rosewood in Toronto was nothing amazing on its own terms but was on a whole other level than that at Mandarin Kitchen which was no good at all. Of course, Toronto is one of the major centers of Chinese immigration and cuisine in North America, and for Cantonese food in particular Vancouver is said by the knowledgable to be the only metro above it. However, the best Chinese food in Toronto is now found not in the city proper but in the suburbs of Scarborough, Markham and Richmond Hill. The old Chinatown is no longer the center of Chinese food in the city. However, my group was staying close to Chinatown and we did not have space in our itinerary for a long round-trip just to eat brunch. And so a couple of us cast about for plausible places in Chinatown and Rosewood showed up on both our radars.
The restaurant does not look like much from outside. But when you go in it turns out to be quite large and set over two floors. We had a reservation and our group of 11 had a table on the upper floor. On either floor the dim sum does not arrive on carts but is ordered a la carte. There’s a large menu of all the standard fare—I don’t believe they had anything very far out of the ordinary—and the food comes out at a rapid clip once you place your order.
Given the large number of people we ordered multiples of almost everything (the exceptions being a couple of the larger plates). Execution across multiple orders was very consistent and was, again, at a much higher level than at Mandarin Kitchen: dumpling wrappers were as they should be; steamed items were not over-steamed. That’s not too say I liked everything uniformly: the whole, deep-fried smelt had too much batter for my taste; the custard buns were a little too light on the filling; and the deep-fried squid tentacles were a little blah despite being billed as featuring five spice. Highlights, on the other hand, included the pork and shrimp shiumai, the congee, the turnip cake and the perfectly steamed Chinese broccoli.
For a look at everything we ate plus the space launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost, what the service was like and for thoughts on how it compares to dim sum in the San Gabriel Valley in the L.A metro.
Service was friendly and present and good-humoured, There was a mistake on the bill—one item had not come out; we had not noticed either but it was on the bill. When I drew it to the manager’s attention it was taken off immediately. That corrected bill came to just over $200 CAD before tip and just about $240 CAD or $182 USD with tip. Divided by 11 that’s just about $17/head, which is quite a bit less than we pay in the Twin Cities for dim sum of far lower quality (and rents in Downtown Toronto are not low). Not to put too fine a point on it but we paid $21/head at Mandarin Kitchen and that was with two heads belonging to small children.
So, how does it compare to the better places in the SGV? Well, our meal at Lunasia in January was superior and all our meals at Sea Harbour, Elite and China Red have been better too. That said, I’m sure the best of Greater Toronto would blow those places out of the water. If I make it back to Toronto—as I hope to do—I will try to check out the food in the suburbs; but, all told, this meal at Rosewood suggests that the quality at run of the mill places Downtown is higher than probably in most American cities. Not really a surprise but worth remembering given the number of people in Minnesota prone to saying things like, “”I have eaten dim sum everywhere in North America and Mandarin Kitchen is as good as anywhere else”.
Alright, that’s Toronto (almost) done: I may or may not do another round-up post on smaller meals/snacks eaten on the run. I do have a few more formal reports to come from Montreal, however. Before I get to those, we’ll go back to the North Shore of Lake Superior.