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Restaurants

Gold Diamond Chinese Restaurant

Posted by Joshua Chong / Listed on October 24, 2012 / review policy

Gold Diamond TorontoGold Diamond Chinese Restaurant, at the corner of St. Andrew St. and Spadina in the heart of Chinatown, is the re-named and slightly re-imagined Bright Pearl that was a long time fixture in the neighbourhood before closing last year. Located up a flight of stairs, the cavernous space retains its gold and red d├ęcor, bright lights and high ceilings. In case there's any doubt, the restaurant can accommodate large groups (or small armies, take your pick) and wedding planners will want to take note of the raised stage complete with golden dragon and phoenix backdrop.

Gold Diamond flirts with the grandeur I associate with classic Chinese restaurants found in Hong Kong or in the Agincourt area of Scarborough circa the 1990s (the long gone Pacific Restaurant, Ruby Restaurant, and the Dragon Centre). These days, to find the same charm and quality of cuisine, you often have to go past Steeles Ave towards Hwy 7. So to have the Gold Diamond space largely intact is a real treat. Still, the new flatscreen TV wall installations locked on CP24, on top of Mariah Carey's "Hero" playing on loop throughout the meal, deflates some of its dynastic aura.

Gold Diamond TorontoFormer patrons of Bright Pearl will be disappointed by the lack of cart service--a practice increasingly rare for newer dim sum ventures. A checklist format can be timelier and ensures you never miss out on signature yum cha picks, true, but I find it snips away the spontaneity of the course. Most frustrating of all, you have no control over when what food arrives. Especially for the deep-fried options, dim sum's best piping hot.

Gold Diamond TorontoOrder forms can end in a mix and match muddle. Case in point: the first dish that arrives is the egg custard tarts ($2.99), customarily a dim sum nightcap. Plus the egg tarts themselves were a bit shrivelled, rubbery to the bite, and could've been flakier. Not a good start.

Gold Diamond TorontoOne discrepancy I notice, too, is easily avoidable. Whereas the pork and shrimp siu mai ($2.99), topped with a generous amount of roe, easily peels away from its paper-lined bamboo basket, the har gow ($3.50) has created a four-diagram impenetrable seal with its foil sleeve during the steaming process. We're unable to eat a single of these shrimp dumplings whole; worse yet, studs of foil come off lodged in the shredded rice flour shell. It's a shame because the fair-sized shrimp filling is pretty tasty.

Gold Diamond TorontoBasic oversights such as this plague the rest of the meal. While the taro has the proper starchiness in deep-fried dumpling form ($2.99), it isn't mashed enough, and overwhelms the juicy pork and chive core.

Gold Diamond TorontoSimilarly, the fried daikon cakes, didn't receive the grated pork love they deserved, which explains why they aren't as crispy as they should have been. All the chilli sauce and Keen's mustard in the room couldn't have revived these flavourless glutinous tablets.

Gold Diamond TorontoThe one exception to the series of disappointments is their steamed fried dough rice roll ($3.50). An all-time favourite of mine, this dim sum menu staple is often overlooked. Cut into bite-sized pieces ideal for sharing, it's best when you allow the crispy donut stick centre to soak up a healthy dose of soy sauce before dipping into your choice of peanut or hoisin pastes.

Many will remember Bright Pearl as one of the more vegetarian-friendly dim sum places around town. But make no mistake; any dim sum boasting of veggie options usually means ten at most on an otherwise meat-centric menu. Gold Diamond wisely tries to keep up this precedent. Their steamed king mushrooms and veggie rice roll, fried vegetarian dumplings, baby bok choy, and stir fried snow pea leaves satisfy, yet even here there are missteps.

Their take on a meatless steamed sticky rice bundled in a lotus leaf pouch ($3.50), for example, leaves more to be desired. The only thing interrupting the dry and flavourless texture of the sticky rice is a thin cleft of fungi and mushrooms, which seemed more an afterthought than used as complementary ingredients.

Gold Diamond TorontoGiven the middling experience, I won't say I'll never come again. Overall, we find the staff to be quite friendly and helpful, and their numbered pictorial menu will certainly be an asset to the novice dim sum goer. But their big selling point, and why people may choose here over the superior Rol San, Sky Dragon, or New Sky, will be for their aggressive happy hour promo. From Monday to Fridays, between 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:00 p.m., you pay $1.88 for any size dish instead of in the regular $2.20-$4.50 range.

Gold Diamond TorontoWriting and photos by Joshua Chong

Discussion

20 Comments

Rej / October 24, 2012 at 10:20 am
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There's no good dim sum in Chinatown. Don't bother looking.
Ken / October 24, 2012 at 10:46 am
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@Rej, I would have thought so too, but Rol San had gotten solid feedback from my dimsum enthusiast associates.
Grace / October 24, 2012 at 11:40 am
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Rol San is delicious and so is Sky Dragon!
sing joe q / October 24, 2012 at 11:50 am
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It's fairly average. No better or worse than before.
Oversight / October 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm
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People. I'm not sure if I should mention these places but Asian Legend and Noble are both terrific Dim Sum. Serious snobbery to say "Chinatown has no good dim sum".
Steve / October 24, 2012 at 01:45 pm
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True but asian legend serves northern style dim-sum.. which is fine, but different from your straight up cantonese style dim sum.
Hanna replying to a comment from Rej / October 24, 2012 at 02:25 pm
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Seriously good, without seriously hurting your wallet, dim sum can be found at Rol San for sure but it's a darn shame that Gold Diamond couldn't deliver after the renovation.
Bamboostar / October 24, 2012 at 06:22 pm
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The recently opened Rosewood on Dundas is actually quite good for dim sum. 1.88 happy hour price weekdays before 11am. I'd say they're the best dim sum in Chinatown ATM.
Jason / October 24, 2012 at 07:12 pm
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"Former patrons of Bright Pearl will be disappointed by the lack of cart service"

So, the lady trying to coax my walking tour group into the restaurant two weeks ago LIED to me?! I asked if they had cart service and she said yes they did. She probably would have told me there were free unicorn rides if that got me up their stairs. I'm never eating there. No cart, no reason ever to switch from Rol San for dim sum in Chinatown.
ugogirl / October 24, 2012 at 07:24 pm
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I wonder how long ago the reviewer went here - we've been twice in the past three weeks and they had the carts - or maybe they only do that on weekends.

As a former Bright Pearl regular, I have to say that Golden Diamond is very similar, maybe even better. The seafood in particular was perfectly cooked - not rubbery but soft and succulent. The curry cuttlefish is particularly excellent. The crab claws encased in a giant shrimp ball is also delicious.

We got a table right away both Sundays we went and felt the service was quite comparable to Bright Pearl - perhaps even friendlier. As we left, we were given a VIP discount card, which we will happily put to good use!

Sure, there may be even better dim sum in Markham, but it's great to have a more than decent option downtown.
Noreen Farooqui / October 24, 2012 at 09:59 pm
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The staff is very attentive. This restaurant has a great ambiance when dining with a large group of friends.
jv / October 25, 2012 at 07:04 am
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Isnt this the supposedly haunted place?
Sean / October 26, 2012 at 12:16 am
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Check out the DineSafe History (top-right, underneath map). Would you really want to eat there??? Ewww
Mike / October 26, 2012 at 09:20 am
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Mediocre dim sum is better than overpriced eggs and toast at brunch on a Sunday!
Kevin Luc / October 26, 2012 at 03:06 pm
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I'm at this restaurant right now and they have CP24 on their TVs and Mariah Carey's Hero playing in the background!
Danny / October 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm
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The service and food really suck at Gold Diamond Chinese Restaurant. I thought the Black Bean Pork Spare Ribs was more rubbery than fresh. The Rice Rolls are small and have no taste. You really have to go out of your way to the attention of staff who are busy standing around -especially the really young, short girl -are they hiring kinds?
Sean / November 13, 2012 at 02:00 pm
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Inspected on: November 6, 2012
Inspection finding: Yellow (Conditional Pass)
Number of infractions: 4 (Minor: 1, Significant: 2, Crucial: 1)
Crucial infractions include: Inadequate pest control
tcp / March 20, 2013 at 01:33 pm
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Going here on sat....
Joanne G / April 6, 2013 at 05:48 pm
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@Jason I was there 2 weeks ago and they have cart service as well as the ordering system described in the review. :)
David / May 5, 2013 at 05:19 pm
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Gold Diamond is closed. Went this am and there was eviction notice on door. Damn!

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