People seemed to really enjoy my restaurant recommendations in Boston so I decided to do the best Asian restaurants for Toronto as well. I’ve been missing Toronto. I’ve actually been back in Hong Kong for about two months now. The food here is great but I’ve been missing the food in Toronto. It might sound weird since I’m physically in Asia but these places are also tied to my childhood memories. They have a special place in my heart.
When it comes to food, Toronto is amazing. I’ve never heard anyone complain that Toronto has bad food. My cravings for Asian food are thoroughly satisfied whenever I’m back in town. There a few places that I always visit so I wanted to share these with my fellow Asian food lovers. It could be that you’re living in Toronto and haven’t tried/heard of these places or if visiting Toronto is on your bucket list one day, consider going to one of these places.
Keep in mind that all of these restaurants are in midtown Toronto. I’ve always lived in Midtown so I’m not as familiar with the restaurants downtown. I would say that midtown is more for locals because the location is not as convenient. You basically need a car to get to these places but it’s worth it. I’ve been a loyal customer of these restaurants for at least 7+ years to give you an idea of how much I like these places.
P.S. this list is not in any particular order.
1) Saigon Star – Curry Crab and Satay Chicken Skewers
330 Hwy 7, Richmond Hill
This Vietnamese restaurant is quite far, it’s by highway 7 in Richmond Hill. There are many Asian restaurants nearby but this one sticks out. Unfortunately, it’s out of the way for me. I don’t own a car so my friends and family have to drive me there. Since I have to ask one of them to drive me, I only go when there are special occasions. When my friends and family ask me where I want to eat on my birthday, Saigon Star is always the answer. Everyone knows I’m crazy about this restaurant.
Their signature dish is the curry crab and it is absolutely delicious. I literally do not eat any other curry but this one. It’s not too spicy, which I like because I’m not a spicy person. It’s also rich in flavour. I love mixing the sauce with white rice. If that’s not your thing, Saigon Star makes a pretty mean naan. I like to drown the naan in the sauce. Who am I kidding? I usually get plain rice AND naan when I eat here.
I usually come here with my best friend so it’s only us two. The curry crab is king-sized so the portions are huge! You’ll never hear me complain about these leftovers though. In fact, I get excited because I can eat curry crab again the next day. When I was younger, my cousin and I used to fight over who can take the rest of the curry sauce home. I chuckle when I think about that because it’s not enough sauce left to fight over but we did! Also, it’s something so minor but it makes me smile, so it’s a good memory.
I would also suggest trying their satay chicken skewers. It’s another dish that I always get whenever I eat here. Those are my two must-haves every time without fail. Everything else is eh. Also, it’s not like I can finish these two dishes plus my rice and naan. I only go to Saigon Star once a year so do I really want to try something new and forego one of my favourite dishes? No.
2) Congee Queen – Honey Garlic Wings, Softshell Crab Fried Rice, Eel Fried Rice, Crispy Squid, Fried Rice Noodles with Black Bean Sauce
If I had to pick my absolute favourite Asian restaurant in Toronto, it’s Congee Queen. Thank god they have multiple locations because I can always eat here. Saigon Star is great but there are only two items I really like. Congee Queen has a more extensive menu by far. There are probably about a hundred items on here, if not more. Don’t quote me on it though. It’s not like I took the time to count the menu items but trust me when I say there’s a lot, okay?
HONEY GARLIC WINGS. You know in the States, people love buffalo chicken wings? Over here in Canada, we love our honey garlic wings. Congee Queen is the number one place for honey garlic wings. I can’t remember the last time I ate here and not order this dish. It’s just not possible. The sauce isn’t suitable to put on your rice because it’s too sticky. You can definitely tell they put a lot of honey but yet, I don’t find the wings too sweet.
One of the reasons I like Congee Queen so much is because of their generous portions. You feel like you’re paying your money’s worth. On the down side, you can’t order too many dishes to try at once because one dish is too large. It’s okay because you can keep coming back. 🙂
Does it matter to you if your fried rice looks lighter or darker? For some reason, I prefer darker looking fried rice. It looks more appetizing that way. Am I the only one? If you’re like me, get the softshell crab fried rice. Anyone who knows me well that I’m not a fan of fried rice. I tend to prefer plain rice. Congee Queen’s softshell crab fried rice is the exception. I tried it once last year and never looked back.
I also want to mention their eel fried rice. This Asian restaurant adds eel sauce on top of the fried rice. That’s my favourite part of this dish. As for the overall taste, the winner is the softshell crab fried rice. Both are signature dishes. Everyone is going to have different opinions on which one is better. My best friend thinks the eel fried rice is better. Try both of them and decide for yourself.
I like their crispy squid but the portion size is too large so I don’t get this as often. I like the chewy texture and how they season it. It’s worth mentioning that the squid pieces are huge! Another dish I get once in a while is the fried rice noodles with beef and black bean sauce. Let me tell you something, Chinese people love black bean sauce. I’m one of them. For us, eating black bean sauce and garlic on everything is practically a rule. It’s for a good reason. They are 100% delicious. It’s not that these two dishes aren’t good but it’s not something I crave as often compared to the other two. I still like it enough to add to this post and suggest you guys try it though.
Some Congee Queen locations did deliveries in the past but not the one nearest me. That is, until COVID. Now, they’re on UberEats. I’m so happy about that. I hope they stay there for a long time. Then, I can order from there all their time. It’s more convenient and I can satisfy my craving. They’ll get more exposure too, which is needed considering there hasn’t been indoor dining for a while now. My wallet is crying though.
3) Dragon Pearl – Sesame Shrimps, Cantonese Chow Mein, Shanghai Noodles, Grilled Salmon
865 York Mills Rd #2
Dragon Pearl is a buffet-style restaurant (not anymore due to COVID) but I always get delivery from there. THEIR SESAME SHRIMPS. Damn. Don’t forget their salmon, Cantonese noodles, and Shanghai noodles. I usually only order for myself so I have days of leftover afterward. I ordered from them so much that I started recognizing the delivery drivers (they used to have their own delivery system but they’re now on UberEats and a few other food delivery services).
They used to have sesame shrimps on their menu but they took it out. Kind of. If you take a look at their menu, there’s only sesame chicken. I’ve been a loyal customer for years so I know they used to have sesame shrimps on the menu. I have to ask them personally but they’ve always made it for me. Dragon Pearl said they shortened the menu because of COVID. Understandable. You should be able to still order it though if you ask. The annoying thing is that you’ll have to call instead of placing an online order if you want the sesame shrimps. I generally prefer placing online orders rather than talking to someone. It’s the introvert in me but I’ll suck it up for the shrimps.
Both Congee Queen and Dragon Pearl make Cantonese chow mein. I like the noodles at Dragon Pearl better. It’s more flavourful. I think I came to realize that I don’t like it when Asian restaurants separate the sauce and noodles in different packages for takeout. It tastes different for some reason. It doesn’t mix as well. Congee Queen separates them but Dragon Pearl mixes the noodles and sauce. Maybe that’s why I have a preference for Dragon Pearl’s one instead.
Their Shanghai noodles are somewhat spicy. I can barely eat spicy foods but if it’s something I like, my tolerance is higher. I’ll just need a lot more water. It’s interesting because Shanghai noodles usually aren’t spicy but this one sorta is. That’s why it’s special and why I like it.
Last but not least is the grilled salmon. Honestly, it’s more like teriyaki salmon. Isn’t grilled salmon usually just with salt and pepper? No, this one has plenty of sauce with vegetables at the bottom. For the price you pay ($14.95), there’s surprisingly a lot of salmon. I like to mix the sauce with my rice. Topped with sesame shrimps and both noodle dishes = ultimately amazing meal.
Now that I’m back in Hong Kong, I realized that most Asian restaurants in Toronto have huge portions. That’s just the way it is. I remember coming back to Hong Kong the first few weeks and marvelled at how small the portions are. How am I going to be full with that tiny bit of food? I soon got used to their portion size here but it made me realize how much more food they serve over there.
I know it might seem like I only like 3 Asian restaurants in Toronto. It’s not true. I just have too much to write about especially for Congee Queen. This post would be too long with all of my favourite Toronto restaurants. I thought it would be better by splitting it into several parts. My next post will be about my favourite pasta restaurants in Toronto.