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Best of Toronto

The Best Dim Sum in Downtown Toronto

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo / November 21, 2012

dim sum downtown torontoThe best dim sum in downtown Toronto has a few noticeable differences from its uptown counterparts. For one--much to the joy of purists and fans of middle-aged Asian ladies' shrill voices everywhere--some of the downtown places do offer traditional cart service, where you can immediately point and pick at your dish without knowing what the heck you've just agreed to consume. Secondly, the downtown restaurants edge their suburban cousins in their unparallelled variety, spanning a wide range of environments not usually found north of the city. From old hole-in-the-wall establishments to upscale harbour viewing dining experiences, there's something catering to every kind of dim sum preference on this list.

Here are the best dim sum restaurants in downtown Toronto.

See also:

The best dim sum in Toronto
The best dumplings in Toronto
The best Chinese restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Darren "DKLo" Susilo. He hangs out on the twitter and his own mansion.

Crown Princess

Crown Princess

With a style that can best be described as "ostentatious faux-European," Crown Princess is the place to go to if you like your dim sum surrounded by lots (and I mean lots) of marble and chandeliers. Despite this seemingly incongruent décor style, the food is absolutely lovely, with decadent variations of your everyday favourites such as the scallop shu mai. It might be pricier than many of the more modest offerings on this list, but then again Crown Princess is anything but modest. More »

Lai Wah Heen

Lai Wah Heen

Running a close second in the fanciness category, Lai Wah Heen is located inside the Metropolitan Hotel, which should give you an indication of its culinary standard. Paradoxically, they also offer a large variety of poshed-up street-vendor-style Hong Kong favourites within their dim sum menu. However, one look at their shu mai (which is served with foie gras), and you know that your dim sum experience is going to be more sophisticated than most. More »

Rol San

Rol San

When you display a sign outside your restaurant bigger in size than your establishment's name which proudly exclaims "We serve dim sum" or "All-day dim sum," you better be damn good at DIM SUM (and yelling, apparently). Fortunately, Rol San actually delivers on this promise. With succulent shrimp har gows and delicious vegetarian dumplings available until the wee hours, this is definitely a good place to wolf down dim sum at almost all hours of the day. More »

Asian Legend (Dundas St)

Asian Legend (Dundas St)

Definitely the go-to place for dim sum with a modern ambience, the Asian Legend on Dundas maintains the chain's reputation for good food, which extends to their dumpling offerings. It features all your favourite dishes, with one highlight being the interestingly-coloured green pork dumplings. Plus, it's always nice to not have to peel away plastic tablecloths while you're chomping down on your dim sum. More »

Sky Dragon

Sky Dragon

Despite a name that seems chosen straight out of a random Chinese restaurant name generator, Sky Dragon is quite popular among locals looking for a cheap dim sum fix. With menu items as low as $2 each, you can go nuts and be adventurous in your ordering. It's also one of very few remaining restaurants that still offer the traditional cart service, which enhances its old-timey feel. More »

Dynasty (Yorkville)

Dynasty (Yorkville)

Another one from the pot of generic Chinese restaurant names, Dynasty is anything but. You would expect a dim sum establishment in Yorkville to be of a very high standard, and this restaurant definitely does not disappoint in that regard. Among many other notable dishes, they offer very tasty curry squid and a fancy take on har gow which comes with fish roe garnish. And yes, the prices are among the highest you'll find anywhere in town. More »

Dim Sum King

Dim Sum King

Dim Sum King specializes in dim sum (obviously), and while its regular a la carte menu is passable, it truly shines in its extremely varied dim sum offerings. Popular with many local Chinese seniors (so you know it's legit), the place is not overly fancy, but the quality of the ingredients is obvious, particularly in their seafood offerings. They also offer cart service. More »

Pearl Harbourfront

Pearl Harbourfront

Another one for the fancy among you, Pearl Harbourfront offers an upscale dim sum experience in a beautiful location. A particular highlight is the large variety of delicious cheong fan (rice noodle rolls) that they have to offer. Prices are steep, as to be expected, but where else can you elegantly munch down BBQ pork buns with a view of the harbour? More »

New Sky

New Sky

New Sky doesn't look new, nor does it remind you of the vastness of the sky, but it does offer old-fashioned dim sum, complete with resplendent plastic table cloths and a loud soundtrack of clinking utensils. With servers that speak halting English and a bit of a dingy feel around the restaurant, it's definitely a place aimed at hardcore fans. Thank goodness their dumplings are delicious and cheap, particularly during their happy hours. More »

Noble

Noble

Noble's looks are a far cry from the bourgeois indications of its name, but the restaurant definitely delivers when it comes to steaming hot dim sum. The har gow is succulent, which is indicative of the fresh shrimp it contains, and the spare ribs are well-seasoned (without MSG). While cart service is sadly unavailable, the weekday special pricing for the dim sum menu here makes it worth the trip. More »

Rosewood

Rosewood

Located in the heart of Chinatown, Rosewood offers two floors worth of delicacies for downtown dim sum lovers. Some of the highlights here include sweet egg tarts, which are both flaky and soft, as well as their crystal dumplings. If you come before 11 am on weekdays, you'll be treated to dishes priced under $2 each, which, when coupled with the elegant décor and polite service, really eliminate any excuse not to visit. More »

Forestview

Forestview

A stereotypical old-fashioned downtown Chinatown joint, Forestview doesn't attempt to wow you with ambience or décor, but it does offer you the increasingly rare enjoyment of picking your selections from the cart service inside a surprisingly spacious restaurant. The food is fresh and varied, the chicken feet are flavourful, and the English menus are horribly translated, all hallmarks of a solid old-school dim sum place. More »

Discussion

30 Comments

Xavier / November 21, 2012 at 11:47 am
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No Gold Diamond? I guess it doesn't live up to its predecessor, Bright Pearl.
Albert replying to a comment from Xavier / November 21, 2012 at 12:36 pm
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Gold Diamond has been struggling badly ever since they opened.

I personally like Rosewood Chinese Cuisine at 463 Dundas St W
Chris! / November 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm
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New Sky is super gross. Avoid.
Brock / November 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm
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Dynasty is so good.
sum dim replying to a comment from Xavier / November 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm
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Gold Diamond is not good. Other than being newer, there's nothing special about it and the food is just passable. The hargow had the texture of a previously frozen dumpling.
You can tell where they've gone cheap to save a few bucks here and there.
2/5 stars. Much better value elsewhere.
Rick / November 21, 2012 at 01:11 pm
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I got a question;

I love dim sum, but the last time I had some I got noticably sick because of it, and this wasnt the first time too...

Why cant these places be more cleaner, or incorporate better food handling practices?

I'm done with eating out at "Chinese" food establishments, If I want chinese food i'll go to the Mandarin - at least there I've never had food posioning.
Jon Pong / November 21, 2012 at 01:13 pm
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For Chinatown Rosewood is tops at the moment.
joe mama / November 21, 2012 at 03:10 pm
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Sometimes when I read the comments on here it reminds me that opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.
TH / November 21, 2012 at 04:33 pm
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I don't think Crown Princess should be rated that highly. It's decent, but Pearl Harbourfront and Dynasty are both better if you want the fancier experience. Lai Wah Heen is priced outside of that range.

I think Noble and Forestview are questionable, at best. Add the Dinesafe records and it's just not worth it.
RG / November 21, 2012 at 08:21 pm
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Where's Cha Lau? It's way better than everything on this list but the top 2.
Ggah / November 22, 2012 at 09:34 am
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Gold Diamond isnt mind blowing, but it's pretty good, cheap and dependable. It's a lot better than sky dragon, dim sum king, etc. should be on the list. I think crown princess is a good #1. Better value than LWH or harbour pearl (i like harbour pearl, probably would have put it second). Havent been ti Dynasty yet
Ggah / November 22, 2012 at 09:35 am
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Oh yeah, forestview is NASTY
Nicole / November 22, 2012 at 11:32 am
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Dim Sum King smells like an old man's down comforter. I don't know how anyone can eat there.
sezme / November 22, 2012 at 01:41 pm
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Some of these are good and tasty, but Sky Dragon, oh Sky Dragon: So. Very. Bad. You'd do better buying frozen Dim Sum at No Frills and thawing it yourself.
sezme / November 22, 2012 at 01:48 pm
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I have a question that maybe someone here can answer. I've read that these Best Of lists are chosen by the readers, but I've never seen surveys. How are they chosen?
MCheung / November 25, 2012 at 11:45 am
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Great to have such a comprehensive list of downtown dim sum locations! It's definitely true that they provide more variety than their suburban counterparts - and the carts just add an element of fun and authenticity!
Janet / December 12, 2012 at 11:20 am
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I'm not sure that middle-aged Asian ladies would consider their voices "shrill." (High-pitched maybe, but Shrill?)
Kevin / December 13, 2012 at 04:35 pm
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I'm Chinese and I can vouch for Dim Sum King (which has never smelled like an old man's comforter for the dozens of times I've been...weird).

Food quality for dim sum and for regular menu items is great, nothing really to complain about.

And you know it's good when the local tai chi club visits every week.
Sarah / December 17, 2012 at 03:56 pm
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I want to cover all of the places on this list and went to New Sky on Saturday. They told me they don't serve dim sum anymore. So I went down to the street to Rol San and satisfied my dim sum craving.
Joel replying to a comment from Rick / December 27, 2012 at 09:32 am
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Rick: When it comes to food, you get what you pay for. If you don't have an iron stomach, go somewhere nicer. Dim sum at even "fancy" Chinese restaurants doesn't cost half as much per person as your average lunch dish at a nice Western style restaurant. Your taste buds will thank you for it!!!

It's simply ignorant to write off all Chinese restaurants (other than the Mandarin, LOL!!!) because you've sampled a few dodgy Chinatown establishments.
john / February 15, 2014 at 11:44 am
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No Pearl Court? The place is amazing as you can tell from the lineups every weekend.
Plush Consignments / February 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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Oh yes, I was only scrolling the comments to see if Pearl Court had made the list. I could eat there every day.
Plush Consignments / February 15, 2014 at 12:37 pm
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PS Thanks for the list...I am suddenly ravenous
Rich / February 15, 2014 at 01:48 pm
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I miss the Bright Pearl!
A / November 21, 2014 at 06:37 pm
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Kwan at Yonge and St. Clair has amazing food. I always go there for dim sum when I go back to Toronto.
Alina replying to a comment from A / November 21, 2014 at 06:52 pm
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Came here to see if anyone would mention Kwan. Totally agree with you, that place is just fantastic.
bob / November 21, 2014 at 07:13 pm
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Rol San is not good. It's open late is all that it has going for it. The shu Mai is terrible.
Tony Shamas / November 21, 2014 at 07:19 pm
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OMG the Dim Sum in the picture looks amazing
Cynthia / November 21, 2014 at 07:38 pm
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So hard to find non-ghetto dim sum places downtown. Love three of your choices: Dynasty, Lai Wah Heen and Pearh Harbourfront. Pearl is probably #1 for me - it's one of few places still doing carts. And I've been going for there for more than 30 years (back in the day when it was Pink Pearl).
Seakaitoronto / November 21, 2014 at 11:28 pm
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Kwan at Yonge & St. Clair. Absolutely fantastic.

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