The Best Hakka Restaurants in Toronto
The best Hakka restaurants in Toronto may not be the best looking restaurants in the city, but what they lack in decor, they make up for in flavour. Each restaurant is basically a sparsely decorated room with a smiling fat Buddha statue in the entrance, a lucky kitty next to the cash register, and kitschy posters of mainland China decorating the walls.
But this no-frills approach to decor isn't a big deal. Because you don't go to these restaurants to look at what's hanging on the walls. You go to eat. And eat, you will. Generous, heaping portions of delicious Indian Chinese fusion will satisfy even the pickiest of palates and keep you full for days.
Before we go any further, let's figure out what hakka is exactly. The answer will change, depending on who you ask. The name lends itself to the cooking style of the Hakka people, a nomadic group originally from southeastern China. As the Hakka people moved around, so did their food.
Although there is some discrepancy as to what real Hakka food actually is, Hakka cuisine in Toronto seems to have particularly strong ties to the expat communities in Calcutta or the Carribean. The best of both cuisines merge in Toronto. Think traditional Chinese food preparation with spicy Indian flavours, and you'll get the gist.
The majority of Hakka-style restaurants congregate just northeast of the city, in Scarborough, and are often billed as Indian-Chinese.
Pack lightly on your travels. You'll end up leaving with bags of delicious leftovers. Here are the 12 best Hakka restaurants in Toronto according to me.
Thought of as the original hakka restaurant in T.O., Federick has set the bar amongst hakka-lovers over the past 20 years. The hard-to-find place is tiny and carefully disguised amidst brick office buildings, but still always packed with a loyal clientele. Parking is a bit of a feat, but make the effort! The crab corn soup and chicken pakoras are worth it. More »
Consensus online seems to say Lin Garden is one of the better, if not best, hakka-style spots out there. The tasty, colourful menu, with specialties like oh-so-doughy shrimp pakoras and Manchurian Beef fried noodles, only backs that claim. FYI, if you can't stand adult contemporary, then I recommend take-out--Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Don Henley are on heavy rotation at this restaurant. More »
Fans of the constantly crowded Tangerine Asian Cuisine can breathe a sigh of relief - a new, bigger location has recently opened up on Ellesmere Road. The food is tasty and the prices are decent, considering the gigantic portion sizes. Try the chili chicken - a perfect combo of spice, with a higher then average chicken to batter ratio. More »
With its quirky tropical decor, this Danforth spot creates the impression of an oasis for Hakka food-seekers. A couple years ago, the friendly owners revamped their menu to focus on Hakka-style dishes, like the popular Manchurian Chicken, served with coriander, chilis and a whole lot of cayenne pepper. Kick things up a notch and ask for the in-house chilli sauce. When you can't take the heat, you'll be grateful for the Kingfisher beer on the menu. More »
Chinese stir fry and cooking techniques are blended impeccably with Indian spices and masalas at this cozy restaurant. Kim Kim's menu is peppered with heavily flavoured choices, from aromatic hakka noodles to tasty butterfly prawns, plus a large vegetarian selection with favourites like stuffed eggplant served in a tasty hunan sauce. More »
You can't miss the red and white sign advertising Chung Moi at the corner of Eglinton and Kennedy. The family-owned restaurant is one room, and always busy, thanks to the unique dishes on offer. The Hot and Sour soup, made to order in small batches with shrimp, egg, grated carrots and cilantro, is a secret recipe from the owner's grandfather. Manchurian Friend Noodles and Chili Chicken are also delicious menu items. More »
Owners Peter and Sandra, born and raised in Karachi, speak fluent Hindi and Urdu and have a sense of humour that makes eating here a treat. A bigger spot then the others on this list, Wok With Yu's size doesn't make its food any less delicious. The authentic menu offers a yummy mix of Chinese food with a slight Indian flare, and Halal food to boot. Non-meat eating patrons will love the extensive veggie menu, including a tasty vegetable hakka chow mein and manchuriuan tofu. Plus its name is Wok With Yu. That is funny. More »
Do not leave Lucky's without trying the chili chicken. Blending delicious Indian spices with deep fried diced chicken, the dish is both fiery and filling--a Hakka must. Dining alone? Multiple television sets often play bright and colourful Bollywood musicals to keep you company while you eat. Bonus points for outstanding fish pakoras. More »
Take a date to China Cottage--the ambience of this restaurant makes it more sophisticated and less well-worn then its Hakka counterparts. Plus, it's hard to resist such popular dishes as the spicy chili chicken and cottage special pepper chicken. You might want to avoid the fried chicken wings, though. They're doused in a delicious garlic sauce (read - bad news bears for your goodnight kiss.) More »
Lit by lucky green jade lanterns, this second-floor hideaway is a Hakka haven in the Annex. China Garden offers cheap but generous servings of noodle bowls, rice dishes and sizzling hot plates, plus a variety of hakka-style curry dishes (a highlight - the Fung Mei Mein). Follow the red rug to the main counter to place your order, then have a seat and prepare your tastebuds. More »
Just west of Bay on Dundas, Spadina Garden is a hot spot for workers in the area hungering for Hakka. The fully licensed restaurant is packed during lunchtime with regulars, and for just cause; its house specialties are both affordable, delicious and efficiently served. Try the hot and spicy peanut chicken or the wontons with hot peanut sauce. Allergic to peanuts? No worries. With over 200 dishes on the menu, choice abounds. More »
At $4.75 a pop, the lunch specials at Spicy Dragon pack the joint with deal-hungry foodies. Although not much on the eyes, the sparsely decorated restaurant offers yummy Hakka, Cantonese and Szechuan style food at super cheap prices. Other than affordable lunch specials, their chicken pakoras, green beans and spicy salt & pepper shrimp have made many a loyal customer. More »