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Restaurants

Ten Mile Aroma

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on June 8, 2011 / review policy

Ten Mile AromaTen Mile Aroma, a quiet, simple eatery in the heart of Toronto's Chinatown, is entered by red carpet. Appropriate, not because a fancy, haute interior greets my entrance, but because this little restaurant is authentic Northeastern Chinese cuisine, meaty and hearty, red to its core.

I remember the first time I ate at Ten Mile; I definitely felt a couple of those "foreigner" stares that I experienced in China. This time, we sit near a young couple, middle-aged women, and some small families - without any stares. The tables are covered in plastic, and the visual/sound focus is the television, which plays seemingly non-stop news from the mainland. Red lanterns hang above, alongside netted soccer balls - possibly a hangover from last year's World Cup.

We sit down; tea greets us. Which is great, except that the drink list reveals a Toronto goldmine: $1.75 beer. It's Sun Draught, a mediocre lager brewed in Mississauga, but still - it's the novelty, right?

Ten Mile's menu is, like most Chinatown restaurants, quite extensive. Options include various dishes of tofu, vegetables, dumplings, steamed buns, noodles, pork, chicken and beef. All cuts and parts are up for grabs: liver, kidney, feet, ear, intestine. Mulling over the menu, we finally settle on vegetable, dumpling and pork dishes to share.

Ten Mile AromaFirst arrives the Shredded Pork with Sweet Peking Sauce ($7.99), a heaping plate of thinly-shredded pork on a bed of sliced green onions. Just slightly oily, the pork is doused in a sweet sauce that, combined with the pungence of the scallions, is flavourful and charming.

Ten Mile AromaWe next receive our order of twelve Dumplings with Lamb ($4.99). Homemade and steamed, these dumplings shelter small pieces of braised lamb, which are tender and moist. They are perfect when dipped in vinegar.

Ten Mile AromaLast but not least: Deep-Fried Lotus Root ($6.99). My menu had "stuffed with pork" written beside this line item, while my eating companion's did not. When we ordered, we weren't sure if this would be our vegetable, more meat, or, as it turns out, our dessert. Upon its arrival, the plate reminds me of Italian frittole, a rich doughnut-like pastry. It tastes markedly different.

Covered under the thick, breaded coating are two pieces of sliced lotus root, with a ground pork/onion mixture between them. Heavy but rich, the unique crispy texture of the lotus root is preserved, its usually subtle taste complimented by the meat filling.

Total bill for the evening? $30.65, which includes tea, four beers and three large dishes of food. While not quite as cheap as China, Ten Mile Aroma is an authentic Chinese experience in the heart of Toronto, a perfect escape from the city bustle any day of the week.

Ten Mile AromaHours: Open 11am to 11pm 7 days a week.

Writing and photos by Jenna Lianne

Discussion

21 Comments

Jackson / June 8, 2011 at 03:00 pm
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Where is this place? I tried "heart of Chinatown" on google maps but surprisingly it didn't help.
handfed / June 8, 2011 at 03:02 pm
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good article, I'd like to see you review some of the other items on their extensive and somewhat incomprehensible menu
Matt replying to a comment from Jackson / June 8, 2011 at 03:08 pm
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There's a map at the top of the review, Jackson, as there is with every review.
Gabe / June 8, 2011 at 03:25 pm
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428 Dundas Street West!
Sam / June 8, 2011 at 03:26 pm
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Thanks alot BlogTO for ruining Toronto's best kept cheap beer secret
Danielle / June 8, 2011 at 03:27 pm
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Oh yeah, shredded pork pictures have me salivating now. Walked by that place dozens of times, I will definitely have to stop by now.
Adam replying to a comment from Jackson / June 8, 2011 at 04:14 pm
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You could also try googling the name of the place too, that may have been a good start...
agentsmith replying to a comment from Sam / June 8, 2011 at 04:22 pm
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Ruining the secret? Because as soon as others start ordering beer there, the prices will go up?
p / June 8, 2011 at 07:16 pm
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Anything vegetarian on the menu? I know it's always a crapshoot in Chinatown, but some places at least try...
JennyT replying to a comment from p / June 8, 2011 at 08:51 pm
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lol Get over it! Have a sprout platter if you'd like.
Ericm / June 8, 2011 at 08:52 pm
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Looks good and worth a try. To bad about the name though....
John replying to a comment from p / June 8, 2011 at 08:52 pm
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Champagne Socialist.
momj / June 9, 2011 at 08:10 pm
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Will have to try it on a future visit to the big smoke.
Jono / June 9, 2011 at 08:16 pm
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Great blog post! I feel as though I almost had the experience of eating there myself. I look forward to checking out the red carpet and having a few tastes of Sun Draught!
V.K. / March 28, 2012 at 01:32 am
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Just been there, had pitcher of beer with a buddy. before 40MINUTES of closing, some old chinese guy start to walk around tables and tab on the bills to hurry us pay and leave. Price is dirty cheap, so as their manners.
ocad student / April 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm
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5 dollar pitchers!
ARE YOU OKAY BUSTER WOLF / August 2, 2012 at 01:53 pm
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Five dollar pitchers? Damn, that's like half the minimum legal price (see http://www.agco.on.ca/pdfs/en/guides/3099_a.pdf). Hope nobody reports them to the AGCO.
Rex / December 4, 2012 at 04:39 pm
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I've been a regular for years. The problem with this place is not the food or the beer. The problem is it's been ruined by rowdy 19-year-old dickwads who treat it like their personal toilet full of cheap beer. This is a RESTAURANT, not a cheap version of the Brunny. Now the staff are rude, and they cower every time a group of white people show up. But I can't blame the staff -- I blame the table full of Rye High douchebags having chugging races at the other table.
Mikebg replying to a comment from Rex / July 12, 2013 at 06:53 pm
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Very well said, Rex. My brother and I went here a few times and absolutely adored the food. It is inexpensive unique Northeastern Chinese cuisine that is delicious (albeit quite oily) and more importantly, unique. Unfortunately, they have decided to cater pretty much exclusively to rowdy douchebags who just want cheap beer rather than people who are genuinely interested in Northeastern Chinese food, like myself. The place has fallen to the dark side, which is a damn shame, since the chef is obviously extremely talented.
Jstor / May 16, 2014 at 11:21 am
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I grew up in Northern China and this is the first place in Toronto (after 20+ years) where I had food as delicious as you find in home-style restaurants and street food stands in Beijing or Xian. The lamb 'chu'r' or skewers are as close as my childhood memory in the muslim quarter of Xian. And the juicy pork 'jian bing' or pancake with scallions wrapped up in them are making me salivate just writing about them. Their steamed 'baozi' (dumplings with leavened dough) are hearty and chewy unlike Mother's Dumplings, which are too squishy and limp for me. If you can handle the grittiness of this place (true of any good restaurant in China), I highly recommend the food!
Jstor / May 16, 2014 at 11:23 am
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Oh yeah, sadly Mikebg and Rex's comments are still true today.

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