Asian Legend

 5186 Yonge St, North York (416) 221-9797
418 Dundas Street West – (416) 977-3909
505 RR-7, Thornhill – (905) 763-8211

Located right in the heart of the Newtonbrook neighbourhood at Yonge and Finch, comprising an extensive corridor of Asian (mostly Korean) restaurants between Yonge and Finch and Yonge and Sheppard. Asian Legend serves Northern Chinese cuisine with vast menu with many vegetarian options. This classy restaurant, which was jam packed with people at 5:00pm has 2 other locations in Thornhill and in Chinatown Downtown.

On this venture up to North York, I went to meet my father at Finch station. We both walked south on Yonge to find the perfect restaurant that we would both like. For our starters, we shared vegetarian steamed dumplings in a nice rice vinegar sauce. (4 for $5.00). In addition, I ordered a vegetarian hot and sour soup with tofu, mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots, in a thick vegetarian broth.

For my main, as usual I ordered a vegetarian stir fry with tofu. Vegetables included broccoli, mushrooms, baby corn, baby bok choy, and baby corn. The sauce was vegetarian and I added some hot sauce to it. My father ordered a “small” crab, shrimp, and wonton soup. His “small” size soup was actually quite large in portion. As well, he ordered an order of spring rolls which he enjoyed because they were crisp, fresh, and not too greasy. For his main he ordered the beef and broccoli, huge portions, fresh and filling and affordable ($8.95).

Asian Legend has a sleek design that relies on minimalism, with huge tables spread across two dining halls separated by partial walls. Decor is not kitschy but with warm orange lights and minimalist design and high ceilings, the ambiance was relaxing, calm, and soothing. At the end of our meal, our bellies were full and the bill came out to $40 with drinks (2 Diet Cokes), 2 mains, and 2 appetizers. What an excellent deal. Accepts all cards and has a liquor license.

Cafe 668

As of mid 2007
885 Dundas Street West
*NEW* Phone: 416 703 0668

As of mid 2007, Cafe 668 moved to 885 Dundas Street West
New Phone Number: 416 703 0668

A Southeast Asian all-veggie, vegan-friendly cafe. Located right near Kensington Market along Dundas between Spadina and Bathurst, this place is quite small and cosy and only sits about 6 small tables. Nice ambiance, simple with minimal decor. I started with a small vegetarian hot and sour soup which came piping hot, thick and spicy, sour, and excellent. The soup portion was quite large. My friend ordered an order of veggie cold rolls which looked fresh and healthy. She ordered the main dish called “House Special Mixed Vegetable Noodle Soup which consisted of a huge soup with noodles and an assortment of vegetables. I ordered the veggie chicken sir fried with cashew nuts (Kung-Pau Style). It came with small diced vegetables and I asked for them to leave out the rice. I was kind of disappointed because the night before I ordered the Veggie Chicken Kung Pau at King’s Cafe in Kensington Market and that dish was the best I’ve ever had. This dish at Cafe 668 was excellent but the pieces were so small, it almost looked like baby food. I generally do not like my food diced up like that. The actual dish was filing and yummy and not expensive at all ($7.99). My friend’s main course was $5.50 and her veggie cold rolls were $2.99 for three rolls. My soup was $2.99 and my main dish was $7.99. Lunch and dinner meals are under $10.00 in most cases and are served fresh, colourful, and extremely tasty. Buddhas Vegetarian Restaurant, which is the neighbouring restaurant next door, is somewhat more grungy with bright lights, uncomfortable chairs and awkward tables, and a patchwork of 6 small dining rooms. Cafe 668 is a simple cafe of one room, classy, dimly lit, and quiet. In terms of awards, this place was selected as the number one restaurant in 2002 by NOW Magazine. It has also received praise from NOW Magazine, Eye Weekly, Toronto Life, and the Toronto Star. Open Tues-Fri12:30 -4PM, 6- 9:30PM. Sat-Sun 1:30 – 9:30PM. Closed Monday. They only accept cash.

Dynasty [Winterlicious Lunch 2004]

131 Bloor Street West, Second Floor

416-923-3323

 

For the Winterlicious Food Festival, my friend and I visited Dynasty Chinese Cuisine. The place was described as having authentic Chinese cuisine in a casual setting. It is true that Dynasty seemed casual, but it was also noisy, and at the same time, slightly too upscale for me.

Dynasty is conveniently located right on the edge of Yorkville on the north side of Bloor, between Bay and Queen’s Park, across from the Chapters on Bloor. The menu is over 15 pages and there are many vegetarian selections as well as an assortment of fish, chicken, pork, and meat dishes.

Some menu highlights include a daily dim sum and many specialties including Peking Duck, General Tao’s Chicken, Shark Fin Soup, and live fresh seafood.

Service is friendly. Reservations are recommended. Average cost per person including tip is roughly $40 not including drinks of appetizer. [OUCH]

Entrees range from $13.95-$68.00 per person. Portions are small but decor, ambiance, and food presentation are stellar.

For our meals my friend ordered an order of pork ribs in a plum dipping sauce. For his entree, he ordered cashew chicken which was aromatic and colourful. I ordered the vegetarian dumplings that came without any sauce so I used the dijon mustard that was already on the table. For my entree, I ordered braised tofu with vegetables. I skipped the white rice that came with the meal. What is braised anyway? The dish looked like plain tofu stir-fry that lacked any flavour. The sauce was a plain soya sauce. Although it was tasty and not greasy, I was disappointed that my stir-fry lacked any flavour.

Live lobsters and crab can be observed from the dining hall and will always intrigue young children to stray away from their parents and sit by the table and stare at the fish with great curiosity. We happened to be sitting at the place where children started hovering around us watching the mysterious creatures as they swim about in complete and utter congestion. Cash, Interac, and all major credit cards accepted

Congee King

 4271 Sheppard Ave E # B
(416) 293-1888

Prior to eating Congee for the first time, I was warned that it was “poor man’s chinese food”. This immediately set off alarm bells. But in the spirit of trying new things, I happily agreed on trekking out to this Scarberian establishment.

Congee is essentially overcooked, mushy rice that is supposed to be very healthy and passes for breakfast in China. To me, it resembles cream of wheat in both look and taste. My grandmother used to transform cream of wheat into her own creation we termed “Smiley Face”. She would sprinkle dabs of Quik cocoa powder for eyes, nose and mouth and then add sugar on top of that. She would tell me to eat my smiley face from the outside in so as to go from cool to hot. What a smart lady.

But I digress, substituting shrimp for the chocolate and sugar is simply no match. Congee ends up tasting like unsweetened cream of wheat even when dipping pieces of sweet bread in it like Congee King provides.

I’m not sure if this restaurant, as implied in the name, serves anything else. If you are looking to try something new, be my guest and try Congee at the King, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Dragon Dynasty

Dragon Dynasty
2301 Brimley Rd.
(416) 321-9000

 

I am far from a dim sum expert. In fact, Dragon Dynasty is the first dim sum restaurant I have ever experienced. But if this restaurant was the litmus test, then dim sum could easily become one of my favourite foods. If there is any reason to come to Scarborough besides the Bluffs, Dragon Dynasty is it.

In a large hall that resembles more of a party atmosphere than a restaurant, carts with various foods are wheeled around for you to choose from. The majority of clientele and all of the staff are Asian so the names of the food are yelled out in Chinese and the bill is also written in Chinese. Luckily, I have always gone with two ladies who speak the language so we were able to order properly.

Some of the dishes include: steamed pork and beef ribs, a sweet bread with barbequed pork inside, rice noodles in a peanut and hoisin sauce, rice with very salty and tough pork, liver and duck, shrimp wrapped in rice paper, and veggies wrapped in a bean curd. One of my favourite dishes are two of the deserts. One is a sweet, tapioca pudding and the other is similar but black sesame seeds are cooked and mixed in. Very tasty.

Silk Road Cafe

341 Danforth Ave
(416) 463-8660

A small, cosy, and casual restaurant, located at Danforth and Chester. Serves high-end Chinese food, full course meals, appetizers, and traditional Chinese desserts. Don’t be fooled by the name “cafe” as this place is a full functioning restaurant. Quiet, calm, soothing, relaxing ambience. The restaurant only has about ten tables. Dimly lit inside and has an outdoor terrace during the summer (note: the outdoor terrace does not have a liquor license so if you want to drink, go inside). The portions are decent and entrees are between $8.95-$12.95
I’ve gone many times and I highly recommend the place. I always order the vegetable stir fry with tofu and the cold veggie rolls with peanut sauce. Other people I’ve gone have ordered the hot and sour soup, vermicelli noodles, beef and broccoli, and spring rolls (deep fried), chicken or beef satay, a large selection of stir fry dishes, kung po chicken, orange chicken, and deep fried tofu with minced pork. Plenty of veggie options.

Staff are friendly and accomodating to vegetarians and vegans. They are aware of our needs and they are patient and they know what is in their food. Each dish is prepared on order. Nothing is made in advance. Accepts all major credit cards.

Red room

444 Spadina Ave.
(416) 929-9964

Part of the same three restaurants of Green Room, and Java, Red Room was once a tea shop and restaurant that served alcohol, but now it’s a bar that serves food and tea. Inside this gorgeous restaurant at Spadina and College, you will find many tables and booths with gorgeous dim lighting and cherry wood interior, luxurious in design, detailed moldings, and antique woodwork. The whole decor or the Red room distracts the visitor from the low quality food it serves up.

There is a reason the food is so cheap. Although the restaurant appears very high class, it’s actually a bar that serves pub type food. The only different part is that this pub type food is Asian in its influence (the cooks and owners are Asian) and most of the selections are light and healthy Asian dishes from Pad Thai to Singapore Noodles to Vegetable Stir Fry to traditional Hamburger and French Fries to Fish and Chips.

Portions are decent but quality is very low. I’ve gone to Red Room over one hundred times since late 2000 and the tofu is always overfried or stale, the food is bland and lacks any exciting flavours, and you cannot make food requests because the cooks do not understand any English. The atmosphere is funky, with many of
U. of T. students, an array of herbal teas, an impressive bar with a large selection of beers, liquors, wine, and other alcoholic beverages. The key is to only purchase food and avoid alcohol. The waiter may frown at you but four people can eat for $20.00 and that is difficult to achieve in Toronto. Expect a lot of noise and a lot of smoke- afterall it’s a bar. Anyone under 19 is not allowed