Skip Chinatown and head to Chinatown North
Everyone thinks that you need to either go to Chinatown in Toronto or to Richmond Hill to get good Dim Sum in the City, but on this lazy sunday I proved that you can find some better than Chinatown Dim Sum in North York.
I live in a mostly Asian centric neighbourhood in the Willowdale, North York area of the city where you can get Indian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai food within blocks of each different ethnic restaurant venue. About a 5 minute drive or a couple of subway stops away from where I live are a few places that you can get Dim Sum. I love to have Dim Sum on lazy rainy sundays because it's the kind of food that is quick and slow at the same time. You can get a whole bunch of quickly made dishes and take your time sampling a bunch of different things and even more if you go with a bunch of friends.
I was pretty hungry and knew that I couldn't wait to meet up with one of my friends to go for Dim Sum so I checked out NOT JUST DIM SUM on Finch Ave. West.. just west of Yonge Street in North York. I dropped in just after the normal lunch hour or when Dim Sum is normally consumed which is fairly early in the day. There were only a few tables with people but they seemed to enjoy what they ordered.
It's not a fancy place but I have seen much worse places in Chinatown. I was immediately served by one quiet but efficient waitress who provided just the right amount of service needed which I appreciate. She had tables to clear but made sure the diners were tended to first.
I pretty much knew what I wanted to order but had a look through the checklist Dim Sum menu to decide what to order.
I ordered Chinese Broccoli, I figured some greens would balance out some of the heavy carb and fried Dim Sum dishes that i knew I was going to order.
I like to order the Pan fried Radish Cake because it's something I would never make at home and I like that it's a little different and most people don't order it.
I ordered my favourite Har Gow..
steamed shrimp dumplings.
I also ordered a Green Onion pancake, also something that is a little different and not always available at some Dim Sum places.
And lastly I ordered Glutinous Pork Deep Fried Dumplings.
A good test for Dim Sum is if there is a puddle of grease left on the plate after you have eaten something fried like the fried dumplings or the Onion Pancake then they probably don't know how to do Dim Sum properly.
The Har Gow had a delicious and lightly seasoned shrimp centre with melt in your mouth shrimp instead of what you sometimes find with rubbery shrimp and hard rice outer layer. These Har Gow's were like little pillows of shrimp goodness.
The Glutinous Pork Dumplings had a nice sweet and savoury taste and the outside was crispy while the inside was creamy and light with a hint of sweetness. I have had these in other places and after you eat a few they can sometimes feel like oil bombs in your stomach, these ones were cooked at the perfect temperature to make them light and not greasy but still retain the soft interior.
The Chinese Broccoli was cooked perfectly with the chlorophyl green bright and still retaining all the vitamins you want from a healthy greens dish. There was a bowl of oyster sauce on the side and the waitress brought bowls of chili sauce and chinese mustard to go with the dishes.
The Radish cakes were nicely fried with a nice crust on the outside but still soft on the interior. It was seasoned well and didn't leave the typical grease pool behind that I have seen on many radish cake plates after I cleared my plate.
Overall I have to say that it was a winning Dim Sum experience with all the dishes that I ordered being really tasty and a quick lunch of really satisfying but also light little dishes.
Think outside the Chinatown box and look for a great little hidden gem close to where you live. You never know if you will find something worth not driving all over town for.
In the past few months I have had a lot of underwhelming meals but it was nice to go to an inexpensive little place and be pleased with everything I ordered from the menu.
Try a little neighbourhood exploring for yourself and who knows what you will find.