Monday, December 22, 2014Cloudy 1°C
Restaurants

Taste of China

Posted by Christina Cheung / Profiled on September 28, 2014 / review policy

taste of chinaTaste of China has been around since 1997, yet it doesn't seem to be on the radar of most diners when it comes to downtown Chinatown restaurant options on Spadina, unless you fall into a certain demographic. For the most part, that demographic would be night owls: late-night partiers and/or those who work in the restaurant industry.

One of the reasons why these regulars keep coming back is the head server, a charismatic lady named Ling who's been working here for over a dozen years. She's the spokesperson for the resto and its dishes, as owner/chef Ping Cham Yeung - who, like Ling, is originally from Guangdong province in China - likes to stay in the kitchen. (He appears to be a bit media shy).

Don't even bother reading the outdated and overwhelming English menu. Ling is the best resource for ordering - especially if you can't read the Chinese characters on the wall. She'll ask if you have any allergies and then she'll guide you to the good stuff. "Chinese food, French service," she quips. We entrust her with our tastebuds.

taste of chinaPieces of filet mignon with garlic and pepper sauce arrive on a bed of broccoli ($13.95); it has the spicy and sweet flavours of a General Tao's without the cornstarch and deep frying, and with better meat. While Taste of China is known for its seafood, Ling tells me chef Susur Lee likes to eat the chicken with bitter melon here (it's an acquired taste that's definitely not for everybody).

taste of chinaNext, a dozen Hong Kong-style tiger shrimp ($18) that have been lightly battered, deep fried and then sauteed, mixed in with garlic shoots (very interesting), spicy minced meat and tiny fried anchovies. This one's a late-night fave, and it's not on the regular menu. A bottle of Tiger or Tsingtao ($5.50) is the perfect accompaniment - if they're still serving alcohol when you're there.

taste of chinaFresh-from-the-tank sea bass fillets come on their carcass ($25/lb), which is now edible since it's been battered and deep fried. It's also possible to arrange to have pricier fish prepared, such as turbot, like one long-time client who told Ling, "Money is nothing, good food is everything."

Ling is the late-night gatekeeper/enforcer-of peace at the restaurant. You can usually find her there from 5pm 'til the place closes, and she manages to balance making patrons feel welcome while also keeping a check on their rowdiness at 2am.

taste of chinaThe regulars respect her authority (she's actually kind of a Taste of China celebrity; she shows me countless pics customers have asked to take with her) and her knowledge of what to eat. She's greatly missed whenever she goes back to visit China in the fall, but not to worry - she always returns.

taste of chinaTaste of China opens at 11:30am every day and closes at 5am on weekends and at 4am from Sunday to Thursday.

Photos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

7 Comments

The Thor / January 9, 2013 at 03:35 pm
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This is by far the best Chinese food restaurant in toronto... but only after 1AM.

To guarantee a "kill", I would suggest Bloke & 4th, then Taste of China, then your condo. This recipe is fool proof.

...Many a man have tried...and many a man have been successful.

Great soups and great service.
serpent replying to a comment from The Thor / January 9, 2013 at 03:49 pm
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i always try fstop-->taste of china combo but instead of condo after--> i get the bbm/phone number instead which leads to texting for a few weeks-->mopeiness which leads to back to cycle.

maybe it's because we eat too much general tao chicken...
Geezer fan / September 28, 2014 at 07:39 pm
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There are many "classier" restos in TO, there are some better ones, there are some with shinier toilets, and yes there may be places that have a better clientele. But, there are none that can please 3 discerning generations of my family on consistent basis like "ATaste of China".
Captain Ahab / September 29, 2014 at 04:13 pm
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This place is well known for its seafood. Hence, Taste of China Seafood. Additionally, for those of us who have spent many years at sea, and are hungrier for "larger game", there is nothing like grabbing a quick snack inside, then waiting with your harpoon for a quick snack outside.

I often find myself tossing harpoons at prey coming out of "TCS" or prey that are walking past TCS...This is usually if the tides at Dog and Bear have not been friendly to me...
Just sayin' / September 30, 2014 at 03:04 pm
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I encourage you to check DineSafe prior to visiting this restaurant.
Mike / October 1, 2014 at 03:18 pm
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We live along Bloor and Taste of China is our go-to for a quick takeout and delivery. It's a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but I think the quality is great and its not-so-greasy.

For sit-down, we tend to make the trek up to Markham or Scarborough, or we hit the Congee Queen at Don Mills and Lawrence.
Sad Belly / October 3, 2014 at 08:11 pm
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AVOID

ordered delivery and credit card was charged and no order came.

Tried calling and was hung up on.

Very bad business practices.

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