The Best Chinese Restaurants in Toronto
The best Chinese restaurants in Toronto tend to be found on Dundas, Spadina or north of the 401. In fact, it has become conventional wisdom that to get the best szechuan, Cantonese or other variation of Chinese food in the city a trip to Markham or Thornhill is all but essential.
In downtown Toronto there are three main destinations for Chinese cuisine - the original Chinatown on Dundas between Bay and University, the largest Chinatown on Spadina on and around Dundas and the often overlooked East Chinatown near Broadview and Gerrard. All three areas are represented on this list. For the best chinese restaurants outside of the downtown core keep an eye out on this site for a separate best of list later this year.
The poor reputation of Chinese restaurants on Dundas and Spadina are not entirely undeserved. Many will remember the notorious rat sighting incidents at the Dumpling House and Happy Seven in 2008. The same year the popular Swatow shut down after being cited for numerous health and sanitation related infractions. It all led us to wonder where in Chinatown we could go for a guaranteed rat free meal?
A quick glance at the windows on Spadina will turn up the usual assortment of hanging ducks and roasted swine but there's more to these collection of restaurants than what initially meets the eye. Think unlimited pots of steaming-hot tea, family-style portions that can be shared among friends and increasingly stylish (and clean!) establishments that routinely pack in diners for lunch, dinner, dim sum and 3am eats (sometimes with cold tea available).
More common are Chinese restaurants catering to vegetarians with tofu and mock meat featured prominently on the menu. And then there are specialty purveyors who are best frequented only for dim sum, dumplings or a lobster special.
Whatever you're looking for, it's probably represented on this list of the 15 best Chinese restaurants in Toronto.
The secret has long been out for this basement restaurant near Dundas and Huron. Inside, the kitchen cooks up the city's best steamed dumplings and nourishing soupy noodles, all made fresh and by hand throughout the day. More »
Long regarded as Toronto's best Chinese restaurant (especially for dim sum), Lai Wah Heen will cost you more than any other place on this list. Found on the second floor of the Metropolitan Hotel, it attracts tourists, well-heeled patrons and those who just can't get enough of the chefs creative take on traditional Cantonese cuisine. More »
It may only be a stones throw from Lai Wah Heen but the vibe and price points here are way more downscale. It's a good thing that the owners don't skimp on quality though and it shows in their tasty and wide ranging menu of Cantonese, Pekin and Sichuan cuisine. For a decent alternative, it's also worth trying Garden restaurant across the street. More »
One of the longest-running restaurants in Chinatown, Lee Garden continues to attract lineups all through the night. Locals, tourists and hungry students all gather here. Be sure to have someone who can read Chinese fill you in on the daily specials and bargain set dinners. They have some of the best red bean soup dessert in Chinatown, free-of-charge to those who know how to ask for it! More »
This noodle joint has been around for decades and has recently gone through a welcomed face lift. They serve typical Cantonese style fast food - soup egg noodles with wonton, congee and BBQ rice dishes. It's the ideal spot for a quick lunch if you don’t mind the lineups. More »
With their bright red sign screaming cheap dim sum, Rol San still attracts the crowds. This is one of the best places to go to late at night (2-4am) when both the front and back rooms are jam packed with hungry revelers hoping to prolong the fun and ward off the looming hangover in the morning. Don't leave without ordering the pan fried turnip cake. More »
Dependable and dirt cheap, New Ho King has filled the role of the quintessential Chinatown institution for decades. Another popular late-night haunt for the post-club/bar-hopping crowd plus those in need of a General Tso’s combo at 4am. This 24 hour restaurant has long been on U of T students' speed dial. More »
This unassuming spot is a regular hangout for white-haired grannies and grandpas seeking out senior’s deals after their daily stroll around the 'hood. It's definitely an old school restaurant but it has its charms and still manages to pull in the crowds for a cheap and filling lunch. More »
When I think of New Sky I flash back to childhood memories of banging chopsticks, spilling tea and poking holes into plastic table coverings. This is a classic destination for large groups and family gatherings. More »
Defying the standard big portion, cheap prices motto of most Chinatown restaurants, E-Pan offers quality dishes for a bit above the standard Spadina price tag. What you get is a wide range of fresh steamed fish and innovative Cantonese cuisine. More »
This vegetarian haven in East Chinatown is a great alternative for non carnivores and curious omnivores who dig mock meat fare like beef, chicken and pork that contains no animal products. Servers are friendly, but English is limited, so don't expect much explanation to go along with menu items like Assorted Wheat Gluten. A word to the wise - their vegetarian chow mein is possibly the best in town, and their Special Homemade Bean Curd Roll is a must! More »
There's more to noodles at this long standing Spadina Avenue destination. You can pretty much get anything you want from their 400 item menu from standard soup and, yes, fried noodles to Hong Kong diner classics. Portions are huge and prices are low. More »
As fate would have it, subterranean restaurants have found a way to top and end this list. But don't be one of those people put off by low ceiling and less than ideal natural light. Traditional Chinese Buns more than makes up for their basic surroundings with excellent Xian pulled-pork sandwiches and savoury dan dan noodles in a toasted peanut-based sauce. More »