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Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant

Posted by Staff / Profiled on August 12, 2014 / review policy

hong shing torontoHong Shing Chinese Restaurant - a lunch spot for office workers and a late night eats staple for university students and weekend partiers in the downtown core since '95 - had a minor makeover and rebranding recently.

The layers of tacky (but efficient for clearing a table quickly) disposable plastic coverings on the tables are gone and a new, more sophisticated-looking logo has been introduced (although the owners are still hesitant to change the original signage out front - they're consulting customers for their opinions).

hong shing torontoBut regulars who have been coming here for years - some even met at the restaurant, got married and now bring their kids here to eat - need not fret. The menus may look different, but overall, it's the same food coming out of the kitchen.

hong shing torontoAlthough Ron Yu, the chef since the place first opened, originally comes from the Guangdong/Canton region of China, the dishes served cover the gamut of Chinese cuisine, from Szechuan to North Americanized interpretations (see: sweet & sour chicken balls).

hong shing torontoA popular order here is the spicy deep fried shrimp ($12.95). A dozen seasoned and battered shrimp that have been deep fried and then briefly stir fried in a wok come on a mound of crispy white rice noodles with chopped green peppers on top. It's not too spicy and would go well with a bottle of Tsingtao beer ($5.50).

Hong Shing does some brisk business with shrimp; they usually go through 2000 to 3000 per week, but over the recent Caribana weekend, they sold that amount per night.

hong shing torontoGeneral Tao's Chicken ($7.50 for lunch, $10.50 for dinner) on rice (fried rice $1 extra) is one of those crowd-pleasing bastardized Chinese dishes invented for gwai lo that actual Chinese people even like to order. Pieces of battered, fried chicken coated in slightly spicy, sweet and tangy radioactive red sauce are an addictive combo of flavours that are difficult to resist.

Fresh lobster (market price; currently $18/lb) in a green onion sauce with garlic and big hunks of ginger brings back memories of my mom's Cantonese style of cooking. The sauce is subtle so that it doesn't mask the natural flavour of the meat the way fermented black beans or Szechuan chillies do. This is the appropriate time to forego the chopsticks and get your hands dirty.

hong shing torontoAn insider's tip: if you're into complimentary soups of the day, ask for the lei tong. It comes with your meal if you request it (just don't be alarmed if you find chicken feet or some other "exotic" ingredient in the broth).

hong shing torontoHong Shing is open until at least 4:30 a.m. every night and delivers until 2 a.m.

Writing by Christina Cheung. Photos by Jesse Milns.



Joey / August 12, 2014 at 02:27 am
The correct website is www.hongshingto.com. The current URL you have leads to a spammy looking domain squatter or something.
grey / August 12, 2014 at 04:19 am
I live nearby and have eaten here far more than I care to admit to, particularly in the late night timeslot. I'd say the quality is fairly uneven, varying from mediocre to ... fantastic.

Personal favourites are the spicy chicken wings and XO sauce noodles with beef (they also contain shrimp not mentioned on the menu). But now I crave General Tao's. The cashew chicken is reliable. The barbecue pork I ordered a few days ago was really disappointing, very fatty and chewy; it's been much better at other times.
JC / August 12, 2014 at 08:32 am
There's a fun TED talk about North Americanized Chinese food here: https://www.ted.com/talks/jennifer_8_lee_looks_for_general_tso#t-403737

which features General Tsao Chicken. Of course, in China the majority of people have never heard of the man, let alone the dish. She also tears apart my favourite "Chinese" food to hate: chop suey. It's a fun watch. Disclaimer: I like me my General Tsao!
yt / August 12, 2014 at 10:20 am
i'll note that and watch it later, but i have to say: notions of authenticity around food are, ultimately, a selling point and little more. they don't make food taste better or worse - but they are part of the stories we tell ourselves about the food we're eating. i suppose that could influence our perceptions, but at the end of the day - it's good or it isn't.

what i'm getting at is that i don't care that general ts(a)o chicken isn't "real" chinese food - most people understand this. it is funny (funny 'ha ha'?) that for whatever reasons it seems to be part of a family of dishes that have yet to be appropriated by trustafarian foodies looking to sell overpriced comfort food. in other words, that there seems to be a kind of expectation that the person preparing and serving the dish is a middle-aged asian person.

Ken / August 12, 2014 at 10:54 am
Yes General Tsao Chicken is a dish created by people of Chinese descent who live outside the People's Republic of China.

So what?
S / August 12, 2014 at 11:17 am
Here's a tip: enjoy food, regardless of how authentic it is. For most people, the joy of food is derived from taste and presentation, rather than a massive exercise in pedantry. Remember that even if you went to the country of origin, there would be a million different variants and other dishes no one's ever heard of that would all be considered "authentic" by virtue of geography.
Vladimir Poutain replying to a comment from The truth is out there.... / August 12, 2014 at 11:25 am
Why would they have poutine in France? It is a quebecois food. Unless General Tso will finally bring poutine to France.
v79 / August 12, 2014 at 11:57 am
When they're on their game their General Tao is the best in the city, but I find that often when I go there at dinner time, it seems to be overcooked, most likely prepped ahead of time and then reheated, leaving it overly hard/chewy. I've yet to have a disappointing order at lunchtime though. Everything else I've had there is entirely forgettable/mediocre but all together decent.
The truth is out there.... replying to a comment from Vladimir Poutain / August 12, 2014 at 12:21 pm
Exactly why would they have General Tso in China? It's a North American food created by North American Chinese. Same as Chicken Balls etc etc etc. Poutine was created in Quebec a.k.a. "New France"
The truth is out there.... replying to a comment from Vladimir Poutain / August 12, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Ya'll know Nova Scotia a.k.a. "New Scotland" has no culinary influence from Scotland right?

Also in my culture we eat perogies much different than the ones you get at Swiss Chalet with zesty Cajun dipping sauce.
Huh replying to a comment from v79 / August 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm
"Everything else I've had there is entirely forgettable/mediocre but all together decent."

pat replying to a comment from The truth is out there.... / August 12, 2014 at 06:49 pm
I don't necessarily agree, especially with older generations of Nova Scotians compared with older generations of Scottish folk. You'll find a similar love of smoked fish, overcooked meat, and potatoes and turnip. It's quite surprising how many older Nova Scotians won't even eat fish: they're pure meat and potatoes people. They'll take a cottage pie (hmm, probably not even a shepherd's pie) over a nice fresh piece of fish, lightly cooked, served up with some very lightly sautéed veggies.
jd83 / August 12, 2014 at 07:25 pm
Who cares. Just enjoy the food or don't.

This is worse than debating chicken tikka masala which is one of Britians fav dishes and was invented in the UK.

I've never eaten here, but passed it a million times. Might be time to give it a go.
tim / August 12, 2014 at 08:45 pm
You wanna eat General Tso Chicken near City Hall try the Urban Eatery at the Eaton Centre. MMMMMMM
kj / August 13, 2014 at 02:16 am
I've been trying to remember/find the restaurant where I used to go for spicy Shrimp, and I think this is it ! Thank you for posting this story!
Sam / August 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Foreign Foods You Are Eating Wrong

Start eating food the authentic way!

Tso Good / August 13, 2014 at 07:56 pm
I love Hong Shing! AND they're open til 4 am most nights, for those late night cravings!
luffy / August 14, 2014 at 01:48 pm
It looks very authentic! I can't wait to give it a try! It looks very clean and yummy.
TorontoFoodBwoy / August 14, 2014 at 06:44 pm
Best General Tso is at Canton Chilli !!!!
General Tsao replying to a comment from Marwan / August 15, 2014 at 12:11 am
I approve.
Ann / August 18, 2014 at 05:37 pm
One of my favourite places to go during my university days.
NobodyInParticular / July 20, 2015 at 10:08 pm
I just watched this doc on Netflix (US) about the origins of General Tsao chicken. It was fun and I highly recommend watching if you love General Tsao as much as I do!
Hank replying to a comment from JC / September 12, 2015 at 01:12 pm
There is a documentary on Netflix called "The Search for General Tso." It discusses Chinese-American food, Chop Suey, General Tso Chicken, and a lot more. Interesting that you brought that up.

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