The Best Hakka Restaurants in Toronto
The best Hakka restaurants in Toronto provide heaping amounts of hot and heavy dishes. For those unfamiliar, the name "Hakka" actually refers to an ethnic group within China spread all around the world but in Toronto, the term has been used almost exclusively (and somewhat erroneously) in reference to Chinese people who settled in India, blending Chinese ingredients with garam masala and other Indian herbs.
The cuisine may feel a bit coarse, the restaurants may look mostly underwhelming, and the overall presentation may be unimpressive, but for my money it's hard to beat Hakka when your stomach starts whining for delicious and satisfying comfort food.
Here are the best Hakka restaurants in Toronto.
Now with two locations (one of them located, rather appropriately, in a street named New Delhi Road) this long-standing Scarborough institution serves up yummy favourites like Manchurian chicken and the interestingly red-coloured Hakka noodles. Newly renovated, the prettiness of the restaurant finally matches the deliciousness of the food.
In this modest but clean restaurant, crispy beef is king. Many Hakka places serve excellent versions of this dish, but Lotus Garden does some of the best, as the crispness is just about right without any hint of sogginess. Awesome daily specials and friendly staff make this place a winner.
Home to one of the best chili chicken dishes in town, Lucky is one of the few places in Toronto where the chicken brings the flavour along with the gear. While the place is very simple, it is very clean and welcoming. Bonus points for the multiple TVs playing Bollywood movies and shows. Indian shows in a Chinese spot? Only in a Hakka restaurant.
Tucked unimpressively into the side of a frankly sad-looking plaza (which also hosts the surprisingly excellent Le Café Michi), the modest-looking Lin Garden was my first introduction to Hakka/Indian Chinese cuisine. Crazily cheap lunch specials for under $6, excellent pakoras, and the ever-aromatic crispy beef Kam Bien always draw me back, even if the service can be hit-or-miss.
Yeuh Tung is a culinary wonder. The long-standing restaurant can comfortably be categorized into any category you care to place it in, and many of its excellent dishes (including the lunch specials) are uber-cheap as well. Two words for you on what Hakka dish to get here - chili chicken. End of story.
Contender for the best lunch special in town, Hakka Masala will feed you a selection of their lovely specialties such as chili chicken/fish on rice for $4.99, even past 3pm on weekdays. The place is a bit odd-looking (it's got those weird angular glass walls/ceilings that practically scream '80s) but the service is friendly and the food comes out fast.
This two-location restaurant proudly proclaims that they are the only Hakka restaurant listed in the Top 100 Chinese restaurants in Canada. According to which poll? Who cares, just eat your delicious Chicken 88 (their house specialty). In addition, its Steeles and Markham Road location has probably one of the most upscale settings of any spot on this list.
In this hidden restaurant located off McNicol St., delicious morsels abound. Thoughts of their fried shrimp balls cause a positively Pavlovian response in my tastebuds. Complement your meal with the super spicy and delicious ROYAL pepper fish. And yes, the menu lists the dish in all caps - how could it NOT be good?
This is probably the closest you're going to get to a modern chain restaurant in the Hakka culinary scene. They have locations as far as Whitby and Mississauga, a clear testament to the popularity of their offerings. My personal favourites are the chicken lollipop, an awesome and unique appetizer which perfectly precedes the mouthwateringly flavourful Manchurian fish (or beef).
Unfortunately, this isn't referring to the most multicultural superhero the world (or at least Toronto) has never heard of, but their Manchurian Chicken is pretty damn superb. Pair it up with their deliciously spicy veggie pakoras and you've got yourself one heck of a meal. Their lunch specials start at $6.50 - that's another awesome deal, despite the rather insalubrious looking neighbourhood.
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