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Eat & Drink

The top 10 Taiwanese restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo / April 2, 2014

taiwanese restaurants torontoThe top Taiwanese restaurants in Toronto are (surprise, surprise) located far from the downtown core. While there are many Chinese restaurants in the heart of Toronto that serve a Taiwanese dish or two, you need to look at the city's northern edges to find entire restaurants dedicated to this rather underrated cuisine.

The flavours of Taiwanese dishes are usually quite distinct, though the food itself never feels so rich that it causes a food coma. The three-cup chicken (san bei ji), popcorn chicken (no relation to the KFC variety), stinky tofu, and beef noodle soup are some of the more recognizable examples of Taiwanese cooking. The best part is that these dishes are, generally, very reasonably priced, making them great for both your wallet and your tastebuds.

Here are my picks for the top Taiwanese restaurants in Toronto.

Papa Chang
A regular in Asian night market festivals across the GTA, Papa Chang isn't going to win any points for its ambience (eating there feels oddly like dining in a brightly-lit warehouse that happens to have chairs and tables all over it). But if you're craving Taiwanese street food along with home-cooked favourites, few can top their menu. Delicious fish skewers, popcorn chicken bento boxes, beef noodle soups, Taiwanese pancakes and flatbreads - oh my! The best part? A meal for two, including side dishes, isn't going to cost you much more than $20.

Taipei Chin Yuan Pai Ku
While this isn't a restaurant, per se, there is no way that I can exclude this food court gem from my list. For around $6.50, you can choose any of their six or seven different set items (the Taiwanese pork chop is the most popular). Mixed with some of their homemade pickles and hot sauce, it is insanely delicious, extremely tender, ridiculously cheap, and only slightly unhealthy (OK, that may just be wishful thinking on my part). Shame that the seats in the food court aren't too comfortable.

Ten Ren's Tea Time
To the untrained eye, this looks like just an upscale bubble tea café. But that is where you, young grasshopper, are mistaken. This Richmond Hill location of the hugely popular Taiwanese chain does way more than serving up tea; there's also plenty of food, along with tea-inspired snacks. Their cheap lunch and dinner specials, which are always changing (both in selection and price) are worth looking out for.

Mei Nung Beef Noodle House
Beef noodle soup is, to many, the epitome of Taiwanese comfort food, and Mei Nung serves one of the best versions, hands-down. For around $7, you can get the large-sized variety, and when that chewy noodle and strong-tasting dark broth hit your tongue, you'll know it was money well-spent. The surprisingly good stinky tofu is also one of the restaurant's specialties, but (true to its name) be warned that if you're a little averse to malodorous fumes, you may find yourself pinching your nose as you eat here. Then again, there's always the take-out option.

Tai Ping Hsiang
If you're in the mood for Taiwanese bento boxes, you can do worse than this long-standing restaurant/takeout joint in Metro Square. Located a stone's throw away from Chin Yuan Pai Ku, this mom-and-pop operation specializes in cheap and delicious lunch boxes with ever-changing contents. The popcorn chicken and vegetables is always a sure hit, while the blood pudding and fish cake side dish is much more delicious than it sounds. The lunch sets won't cost you more than $7, which is also a plus. Take note: Service can be a bit hit-or-miss.

Wiki Star
Blink and you'll miss this extremely well-hidden restaurant, located in a small nook in Northtown Way, a North York strip packed with culinary marvels. Once you do find it, however, you will be delighted as you munch on your $5.99 three-cup chicken on rice and sip one of their many bubble tea varieties. Never in my life have I witnessed so much food selection in such a small, confined space. Take-out only due to the establishment's size (I really cannot emphasize this strongly enough). Also, it's cash-only.

Wei's Taiwanese Food
This popular Scarborough restaurant is so dedicated to providing you with Taiwanese food that they even sell their own line of frozen Taiwanese dishes. Their actual store-cum-restaurant is rather modest, but you can regularly find quite a lot of diners feasting on their specialty stinky tofu (bad smell, better taste) for $3.99 or the equally-famous three-cup chicken on rice for just north of $5. Don`t forget to check out their perfect-for-work-lunch frozen dishes, like the sticky rice or the Taiwanese meatballs, for only $2.99 (no, seriously).

T&T Supermarket
OK, this isn't a Taiwanese restaurant. In fact, it's not even a restaurant. However, the roots of this large Asian arm of the Loblaw Group are undeniably Taiwanese: T&T was founded as a joint venture with Uni-President, one of the state's largest food conglomerates. That influence still shines through today at the multiple T&T locations in the GTA. You can regularly find many fried Taiwanese street-style foods, along with a surprisingly excellent three-cup chicken in the cooked foods aisle, and the bubble teas here are pretty good for $1.99, if not exactly stellar.

Lohas Café
I only recently realized that Lohas means "Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability", but for me it just means yummy Taiwanese noodle soups. Despite its rather unremarkable location (alongside many similar-looking restaurants in First Markham Place), this modest restaurant has a steady stream of regulars. Noodles are the specialty; my go-to is the minced pork noodle with bean sauce. At just under $6, coupling it with one of their milk teas is a great way to round off a weekend evening.

Mabu Station
Located in the heart of Koreatown North, Mabu Station is a little bit café, a little bit restaurant, and a little bit dessert place. This modern, cheerful restaurant is one of the few in Toronto to serve oyster pancakes; while they won't be mistaken for the ones from downtown Taipei, the dish more than holds its own. The three-cup chicken isn't bad, but I could sip on their Oreo milk tea forever. Non-Mandarin-speakers may find the servers' relative lack of English skills a bit daunting.

What did I miss? Add your favourite Taiwanese restaurants to the comments below.

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo. He hangs out on the twitter and his own mansion.

Discussion

21 Comments

Out of top 10 ideas? / April 2, 2014 at 10:43 am
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"Hey lets all go out for Taiwanese food!" Says: No one ever.
Yoshi replying to a comment from Out of top 10 ideas? / April 2, 2014 at 11:32 am
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Wow...you are so narrow! Anyone who has travelled knows that the Taiwanese make some of the tastiest most comforting foods on the planet.
Sam I Am replying to a comment from Out of top 10 ideas? / April 2, 2014 at 11:35 am
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Back to Cornwall you go, then, chop chop
Rob replying to a comment from Out of top 10 ideas? / April 2, 2014 at 11:54 am
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Maybe Taiwanese is the next big thing. If this list is any indication, it has not yet reached the core.

Also might be a victim of Chinese food considered all under one roof.
Come on people / April 2, 2014 at 01:03 pm
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The fact that you think Taiwanese food is bad is a pretty good indication that you've never had authentic Taiwanese food. It's a known fact to foodies around the world that Taiwanese food is some of the best and most unique food out there. What a shame that you've yet to taste such incredible food
Fanks / April 2, 2014 at 01:46 pm
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Thanks for this post! It is nice to have a look at something a little different. There are so many asian places around Markham and North Scarb, but one does not really know how they are different from one another. So we wind up just going to our favourite handful of spots. Definitely worth trying a few of these Taiwanese places!!!
SW replying to a comment from Out of top 10 ideas? / April 2, 2014 at 01:51 pm
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"I'm so ignorant!" Says: you.
Rich / April 2, 2014 at 02:03 pm
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Try Green Grotto on Warden and Steeles. They just renovated into an upscale bigger space, and went straight to Taiwan to find amazing cooks. Their Taiwanese food is pretty good =)
Lipsy / April 2, 2014 at 02:41 pm
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F-ck yeah Papa Chang's! If you have yet to try actual Taiwanese dishes, you're missing out - just stay with your Manchu Woks and Asian Legends.
Adrienne / April 2, 2014 at 03:01 pm
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I've actually been to Taiwan and the food is incredible! Can't wait to try some of these out.
Taiwanese on West end / April 2, 2014 at 03:33 pm
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For people who live on the west end of GTA, there a couple of nice places to get your taiwanese food fix:

1. Bubble’s Republic http://www.bubblerepublic.ca/
2. Koo Koo Chicken 1525 Bristol Road West, Mississauga, ON L5M 4Z1

3. The Chase Taiwanese Grocery Store 1675 The Chase, Mississauga
Mona / April 2, 2014 at 03:59 pm
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I used to love the pork chop (chicken chop is my choice) rice at Metro. Unfortunately, the owner no longer works there and the quality has gone down tremendously.

There's too much corn starch coating and you can literally pick it off like a film. The side dishes are still great - a veg, a soy sauce braised egg and some tofu stir fry.

Glad you have Papa Chang at the very top of the list. Although new kid on the block, it's the best non-secret in Markham. The popcorn chicken is #1 in the city.
oph / April 2, 2014 at 04:36 pm
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Where's the best place for crullers/youtiao? The ones at my local Chinese grocery store are always really greasy.
James / April 2, 2014 at 07:36 pm
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some of these places are run down shacks and dirty too
Fiona / April 2, 2014 at 10:03 pm
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Whoever says Taiwanese food is bad, has never tasted Authentic Taiwanese Food. A lot of people travel to Taiwan who are not from Taiwan enjoy the cuisine there especially from the night market. By the way, bubble tea is taiwanese so if you have had bubble tea, you have drank a taiwanese drink!
Eguess / April 3, 2014 at 01:35 am
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Green's grotto at Warden and Steeled, that just recently expended to a bigger location. Has the best beef noodle among all Taiwanese restaurants. It was a famous bubble tea shop before for more than 10 years I think, and I was told that they expended and hire a chef straight from Taiwan. Food menu is simple, but great taste. I especially love their decor!! Similar to the ones we only see on TV .
Anonysurf / April 7, 2014 at 11:15 am
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Mei Nung's smelly tofu is made by Mama bear which their restaurant is opening very soon.
Check the website for more detail,

Http://www.mamabeartaiwanesecuisine.ca
HK / April 7, 2014 at 11:19 am
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Taiwanese food is truly underrated outside the Asian crowd. I highly recommend the Ten Ren's in Richmond Hill. Their green tea noodles are really good. As for the other Ten Ren's their selection is limited and the food isn't as great.
Also check out the summer night markets of Night it Up in Markham, and Waterfront Night Market near T+T.
Sarah / May 27, 2014 at 01:00 pm
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I lived in Taiwan for close to a decade and it is a foodie paradise! There are amazing dishes available basically 24 hours a day, and it's cheap and delicious!

Does anyone know of any places that do a traditional Taiwanese breakfast here? Dan bing, dou jiang etc? I know it wouldn't be too difficult to make myself...but I've just been having a craving for my local breakie shop over there...there must be a place in Toronto, no?
Actually travelled replying to a comment from Out of top 10 ideas? / August 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm
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Really, you obviously don't know the first thing about Asian food and you've likely never left North America (or maybe even your home town/city). Seriously - anyone who's travelled even a little knows that Taiwanese food is not only good, but that travellers visit Taiwan as "food tourists". When you don't have the very first clue what you're talking about, try reading more and commenting less, instead of sabotaging a useful thread about restaurants. Don't worry, though: I'm sure there's a McDonald's or a Wendy's open late for you to explore your culinary adventurous side.
TaiwaneseFood / September 22, 2014 at 10:10 pm
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Great list!! For anyone who's been to Taiwan before, does any place in the GTA sell "tien bu la"? (chewy fish-cakey thing)

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