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Restaurants

Sky Dragon

Posted by Jason Finestone / Reviewed on October 18, 2012 / review policy

Sky Dragon TorontoSky Dragon may not serve the greatest dim sum in the city, but it's still my favourite place to get it! The authentic Hong Kong-style cart service, bustling dining room, and fantastic staff make this Chinatown institution an experience that goes beyond just the food, as much as a meal here is enjoyable as well.

Sky Dragon TorontoAt one point in my life I was hitting up "The Sky" so frequently that my friends and I were wearing down the ball bearings on the Lazy Susans. Dim-Sundays, as we called them, were more than a hungover activity — they became a cherished tradition. The dining room has a nostalgic ambience with its wall-to-wall carpeting and a phenomenal ability to pack every crevice with a plastic-covered table. Head there between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on a weekday, and the dim sum dishes (except special orders) are a steal at $2 each. Weekends are also well cheap at $2.30 a piece before 11:30 a.m. for regular items! I've eaten here well over a hundred times and don't think I've ever racked up a bill over $20 per person despite collective efforts to break that barrier.

Sky Dragon TorontoAside from the bowtie clad, silk-vested servers, the cheery cart ladies and their many magnificent offerings are a big draw. This is the perfect place for a food porn voyeur! While certain dishes occasionally get a bit cold at off hours, the constant rotation of different dishes allows me to experiment with new items and broaden my horizons, even after so many years. On this visit, I decided to go with as many never-before-seen steamers, soups and finger foods from the deep fryer as my friends and I could consume.

Sky Dragon TorontoRight away (even as we were still waiting for our whole group to arrive) I snagged a fantastic looking plate of saucer-shaped shrimp wontons. The deep-fired egg wontons proved an excellent, and still relatively light starter with a perfectly crisp exterior that gave way to a mixture of shrimp and chive on the inside.

Sky Dragon TorontoA favourite of mine are their ham sui gok. These deep fried crescent shaped balls of rice are generally stuffed with minced pork, dried shitake mushrooms and dried shrimp. Today they were lukewarm, but the texture was redeeming.

Sky Dragon TorontoSwitching to another new arrival, and something I would undoubtedly spring for again, I dived into a plate of deep fried smelt. After some research I've come to the conclusion that as a dim sum dish they're called duo luan yu "fish with many eggs." These roe-packed, salty-battered little beauties can be devoured head, tail, bones and all!

Sky Dragon TorontoAmidst the deep-fried frenzy I always tend to order at least one "green" thing. When I don't go for the Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, I opt for steamed snow pea shoots. The emerald mound of veg can be dipped in a superb, and seriously spicy soy sauce with chilies and a drop of oyster sauce. Exercise caution when handling the chilies if you tend to be sensitive to spice.

Sky Dragon TorontoFor a journey into the meat department, we tore through a plate of sticky, sweet, honey garlic ribs and enjoyed several steamers of my single favourite dim sum dish, shu mai, which they do remarkably well when they come fresh (should be at least a few times throughout your meal. They always come on the same cart as the haar gow).

Sky Dragon TorontoThen...back to the fried goodness! Stuffed shrimp rolls, fried taro with minced pork and crab claws — hot, comforting and hearty.

Sky Dragon TorontoFor dessert there's really only one thing on my mind today: sesame balls (though the steamed barbeque pork bun is tempting). With it, I enjoy another round of chewy, fried rice balls, enveloped in sesame seeds and spiked with a sweet, red bean paste center. Aside from the sub $15 bill, this is the best thing to finish off a well executed dim-Sunday, in my opinion.

I bid my favourite cart ladies "goodbye for now," they know I really mean it. In all likelihood, I'll be seeing them again next Sunday.

Sky Dragon Toronto

Discussion

16 Comments

Adam / October 18, 2012 at 03:11 pm
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I went there with gf. It was solid. Good prices.
J / October 18, 2012 at 03:56 pm
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Sounds like my kind of place. Going to try out soon.

But please, Jason, lay off the extra apostrophes.
Plural of Lazy Susan is Lazy Susans. Same for Sundays.
Cynthia / October 18, 2012 at 05:06 pm
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People (other than tourists and students) still eat in Chinatown? REALLY?
L / October 18, 2012 at 05:40 pm
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I live in the same building and I prefer going to Noble Restaurant which is across the street (on dundas). They serve the usual dim sum dishes and serve their dishes in a reasonable time. It's a checklist so you don't have to wait for carts and the risk of not getting the dish you want. It costs $1.80 from 9 to 11AM on weekdays. Pretty awesome

If you like the environment, Sky Dragon for sure. If you like your wallet more, Noble Restaurant all the way.
Randy / October 18, 2012 at 08:17 pm
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Also forgot to mention a solid view of the city from their windows. Love this place, decent prices, and it's nice to see a place that still keeps the tradition of the carts alive.
Shawn replying to a comment from Cynthia / October 18, 2012 at 08:58 pm
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Yeah, there are some people out there who aren't incredibly sheltered (to put it lightly).
porker / October 18, 2012 at 11:50 pm
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I'm glad you reviewed this place but you reviewed all the wrong things, apart from the pea shoots (which you don't "dip" in the sauce). Go back for some chow mein, calamari and shumai. This is driving me crazy.
Nalababe / October 19, 2012 at 12:48 am
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Yes people still eat in Chinatown...we also shop in Kensington. Not to say we won't go up north for dimsum to Sichuan as well...We can easily spend hours walking around with the kids.

Never a fan of Sky. Like another said, I'd go to Noble instead. Of course, now that Gold Diamond opened, well probably head there..lfood was actually better that the two mentioned, despite being carts.

john / October 19, 2012 at 08:09 am
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great review! pictures amazing...mouth watering at my work desk, check!
Jason replying to a comment from L / October 19, 2012 at 01:42 pm
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You can always order anything that you don't see on the carts directly from the server's. Forgot to mention that! Apologies. Plus it allows you to explore more uncommon options.
Jason replying to a comment from porker / October 19, 2012 at 01:47 pm
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You mention great dishes, all of which I get regularly. The point of this review (as I mentioned in the article) was to stray away from some of the more common dishes and take advantage of new things that came to us on the carts. We also ate both the chow mein and rice noodles, har gow, shu mai, pork spring rolls, fried eggplant stuffed with shrimp in black bean sauce, pork buns and more that day! But, a review can only be so long. Sorry you seem so perturbed by what I chose to focus on.
TJ / October 19, 2012 at 03:45 pm
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Hate to say it but Chinese food, and in general, all Asian food places are a great deal. Most of the time, dim sum costs me about $7-9 after tax and tip with either a few or a bunch of friends/family. I can't even go get breakfast at a sit down restaurant/diner place for that price (while factoring in tax and tip). And dinner at a Chinese/Asian place costs me $15-17 tops with tax and tip.
porker replying to a comment from Jason / October 20, 2012 at 10:14 am
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Ok, I understand that. I just thought that showing the strengths of some of those dishes might help people decide whether to come here. I'm mostly just annoyed by those short ribs, which always come on the smallest plate possible.
mary / November 25, 2012 at 08:30 pm
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not impressed with the food at all, cold, bland, funny textures. if you've been spoiled by good dimsum then this is not the place to go. however, staff is very friendly, food is cheap, and it is a good experience for those who have not had dimsum before.
T / December 14, 2012 at 06:00 pm
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Possibly the worst place for dim sum....ever... you might as well have the real deal if you're going to try dim sum. "Today they were lukewarm, but the texture was redeeming." What an interesting choice of words..lukewarm.
Dave / April 18, 2014 at 08:44 pm
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Had dim sum here this morning since the line at Rol San was too long and also because we prefer cart service. No line at this place, but I'm not surprised. Food was okay, but carts were not very frequent. Main problem, is this place is a dump. It was almost too disgusting to sit down but we were hungry and weren't about to go stand in line somewhere else.

I brushed the crumbs off my stained seat which was slightly cleaner than the nasty carpets, and I tried not to think of how dirty this place is and enjoy the meal, but it was too late -our appetite was gone.

They seriously need to close this place up for a month or two and renovate it and try again. Chinatown needs a nice big cart service dim sum restaurant -it doesn't need this place.

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