They say that Toronto boasts more Chinese restaurants than China (where, by the way, they’re just called ‘restaurants’).
Okay, no one says that. Mostly because it’s probably not true. But Toronto not only has some of the best Chinese restaurants in Canada or even North America, but many of them are open until the wee hours of the morning – perfect for a post-Midnight Madness snack or, if you’re in and out of screenings as much as I am, breakfast. Here’s a few of my favourites that would make for an ideal setting to mull over the culinary and martial arts wizardry in tonight’s premiere of The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman.
Gold Stone Noodle (isn’t just any old restaurant – it’s actually nothing short of a fixture in Chinatown. Whether driving or walking down Spadina, you can’t miss the illuminated window with whole roasted ducks and pigs hanging there like delicious, inside-out mannequins. Make your selection and the chef will chop up that carcass like it owes him money before expertly laying it on a bed of freshly-made (in-house!) thick noodles. It’s no frills and I don’t even think they give you any vegetables, but it is seriously one of the best meals you can have in the city.
Rol San (is so dear to my heart that I’m almost loath to mention it, lest it be overrun next time I’m trying to get a table. I’ve spent many late nights there, eating things I was too drunk to even identify and passing them to friends around huge round tables after a particularly late club night or screening. The Crispy Beef with Ginger Honey Sauce here is roughly equivalent to a night with GACKT or Carrie Ng (depending on your preference) and the gigantic sign outside proclaiming that “WE SERVE DIM SUM” isn’t just there for decoration.
Asian Legend (418 Dundas St. W.) is a lesser-known spot on Dundas, located close to the Art Gallery of Ontario and TIFF venue, Jackman Hall. This place specializes in Northern Chinese cuisine from the Shanghai region and is super authentic (chicken balls are nowhere on this menu). Super crispy, not greasy Peking Duck, delectable green onion pancakes rolled with beef...Oh god I’ve drooled all over my keyboard. What I love about this place, though, are its private rooms downstairs. Nowhere in this city can replicate the feeling of being a Chinese gangster quite like Asian Legend’s circular rooms that my friends and I have affectionately dubbed ‘the Jedi Council Chamber’. You get a huge table in this room that goes almost to the wall and rotates, Lazy Susan style, for optimal sharing. Perfect for you and your crew to plan your next hit.
So if you find yourself with a deadly case of the munchies tonight after The Butcher, The Chef, and The Swordsman, give one of these places a try!