Tdooooooooooot


Two days in Toronto is clearly not enough time. Oh well, that just means you have to cram it all in. That’s what she said?

Bike Share Toronto
The Manna
Kekou
Street Art
Tibet Cafe
Sweet Jesus
Pai
Rasa Bar
Fancy Franks
The Hogtown Pub and Oysters
The Chase
CJ Lunch Box
Sugar Beach
The Distillery District
Brick Street Bakery
Taco Fest
Car2Go
Crown Princess Fine Dining

Having friends in Toronto is key to enjoying your time in the 6ix. Or is just six? Dreezy to gangster for me. Don’t bother driving, rent a bike (see below), take the subway or Uber/car share. So many cool spots to check out, wish I had had more time (ie. missed out on Bang Bang Ice Cream).

Bike Share Toronto

First, let’s have a moment of silence for Bixi. It least it still lives on in Montreal! I was looking forward to using my old Bixi key but when I was in town, they were actually converting the old system and keys to work with their new system. Bummer. Oh well, that just meant that I had to put in my credit card each time I wanted to grab a bike.

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Pricing is legit ($7.00 for 24 hours, $15.00 for 72 hours and $90.00 for an annual membership). Biking around is the best way to see the city! I was impressed to see how many bike lanes there are now along with the amount of people biking. Bike culture is thriving compared to my last visit a few years ago.

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There’s over 200 stations and 2,000 bikes! You can also use these 24/7 which is the perfect way to explore. Honestly, bike shares are my favourite thing in the world. Too bad Toronto’s has the lamest name ever. You get 30 minutes free so make sure you don’t go over the time limit.

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Only other bummer was when I tried to use it the next day, all the systems were down. So I got screwed that way but I wasn’t charged for my 3 day pass as I called up their reps and was reimbursed. Still love it! Take advantage of their bike share program whether you’re a tourist or a local. I know I would.

Bike Share Toronto
https://www.bikesharetoronto.com/
Toronto, ON
(855) 898-2378

The Manna

First meal in Toronto. So many freakin’ choices on Bloor Street West, it’s unreal. I walked all the way down to Koreatown and could not for the life of me figure out which Korean place to eat at. I finally pulled the trigger and opted to try The Manna as it reminded me of the small mom and pop restaurants back in South Korea. I was the first visitor of the day as one of the workers was sitting in the middle of the floor but moved right away once I stepped inside.

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Outside menu to entice you inside.

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No one else was there so I quickly perused the menu (all hanging on the walls with pictures to boot). Surprised it was empty given that it was Friday lunchtime. The place is tiny with only a handful of seats to eat at the counter. They pack everything up takeout style so I ended up heading over to nearby Christie Pits Park for a mini picnic.

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Soup
DSC06406Pretty standard side soup but I liked how it retained it’s hotness while I sat outside.

Tuna kimbap ($4.50)
DSC06404You get 10 pieces of kimbap which is a killer deal. Fresh, filling, they hit the spot. Would have been nice to have ordered half tuna and half beef to change things up a bit.

Chicken bibimbap ($8.50)
DSC06407Fried egg, carrots, yellow pickled radish, spinach, cucumber, bean sprouts, radish and a few other things. They served the gochujang in a separate container so you can adjust to the amount of heat level you like. I wasn’t a big fan of the fried egg but I guess it’s hard to do a raw egg when it’s takeout. Overall, decent bibimbap.

No fuss, hole in the wall Korean joint.

The Manna
726 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 506-0476

The Manna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kekou

While I barely did any research for my two days in Toronto (bless having friends in town), I randomly found a photo on Insta that instantly had me sold. Gelato made fresh, in-house Asian style? Hell yeaaaaah. Even more props to Kekou as everything they do is based on freshness. No preservatives, stabilizers or filler. You can read more on about that on their website here.

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There are a couple benches outside to enjoy your gelato but most people were eating inside to keep cool and prevent their scoops from melting. Their flavours are constantly changing based on the season and availability but there were plenty to choose from when I was there. I tried a couple samples as there were so many interesting flavour combinations (spicy salted pineapple, avocado banana) but ended up going with a medium (two scoops).

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Cute sign beckoning you in.

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Osmanthus plumberry and HK milk tea ($5.00)
DSC06416The osmanthus plumberry was incredibly refreshing. Not too sweet but had a great balance of sour and salty. The HK milk tea tasted just like the real thing. Both were terrific but if I had to choose one over the other, I’d get the plumberry again.

Loved Kekou! I would easily come back here multiple times to try all their other unique flavours.

Kekou
http://kekou.ca/
13 Baldwin Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 792-8858

Kekou Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Street Art

Spotted some cool street art walking along Baldwin. Such a cool little area filled with a bunch of restaurant and dessert spots.

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Also spotted this while I was biking towards the Distillery District. Ton of chic coffee shops were in that area.

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This building had a cool architecture design and layout.

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It’s called the Equinix TR2 IBX Data Center.

Tibet Cafe

We were strolling around Kensington market when I spotted Tibet Cafe. I’ve never had Tibetan food but have heard so many good things so we decided to stop for a quick bite and drink. Bonus that the Euro games were on at the same time so we got to catch a bit of the Germany vs. Poland match. Their patio in the back is super cozy – pretty sure we would have sat there if the game wasn’t on. Otherwise, you can sit out on the entrance patio and people watch the day away.

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The menu. Damn, they have crazy hours. 7 days a week, 12:00pm – 12:00am???

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The full menu. Never understand when there’s all day breakfast and burgers on the menu. Do people seriously order that?

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Key in on the Tibetan specialties – momo’s.

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Drinks. It was a hot one so we both wanted to try their smoothies.

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Mango smoothie ($3.50) and avocado and mango smoothie ($5.00)
DSC06426Ju ordered a mango smoothie which was honestly terrible. It was overloaded with ice and I couldn’t taste any mangoes. Wasn’t impressed.

Avocado by itself is $4.00 but our waitress told us it would be an extra $1.00 to make my favourite fruit drink combo. No biggie as long as it was good. Well, the avocado that they used must not have been fresh as it was almost tasteless and lacked any creamy thickness. Pass on their drinks!

Beef momo ($9.50)
DSC06429My first time trying momo’s which are a Tibetan specialty. Homemade, half-moon dumplings are the best and these were fantastic. You have to wait about 15 minutes for your order but trust me, it’s worth it. Eight juicy pieces stuffed to the tellies with meat.

Isn’t this the most Instagram worthy pic? Thanks Ju for the photography skillzzzzz.

Chicken momo ($9.50)
DSC06432We were only going to get one dish of momo’s to share but the beef ones were so tasty that we decided to order a round of chicken momo’s to compare. Comes with the same side salad (meh) and Tibetan dipping sauce. Ju was telling me that each sauce is different as each restaurant has their own homemade/secret recipe. I can’t decide which momo I liked best but can safely say both were extremely satisfying.

Cool Toronto has such a wide, diverse group of cuisines to try. There are quite a few Tibetan places so I would love to try a couple more next time in town. Tibet Cafe was a solid first experience into the land of Tibetan food.

Tibet Cafe
http://www.tibetcafeandbar.com/
51 Kensington Ave
Toronto, ON
(416) 260-5178

Tibet Cafe & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sweet Jesus

Sweet Jesus is classic hipster. This place is hyped to the max and I’ve heard about the insanely long lines but lucky (smart?) us, we decided to go for a pre-dinner dessert after putting our name on the wait list at Pai. Smartest move ever because there was barely a line! We walked straight to the front where the hostess gave us a couple minutes to peruse the menu before ordering.

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The menu is all about the soft serve here. But look, they actually have paletas (Mexican frozen popsicles). Didn’t even see that until taking a closer look. Interesting.

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You can also get coffee/drinks if ice cream ain’t enough. LOL at the Summer Sixteen.

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Red rapture and Oh sweet baby Jesus! ($6.50 each)
DSC06441The Red rapture consisted of vanilla soft serve with red velvet cake, cream cheese icing, raspberry puree and meringue crumble while the Oh sweet baby Jesus was caramel soft serve with peanut butter and caramel sauce, chocolate-peanut crumble and chocolate sauce.

The red rapture was supposed to taste like red velvet cake but that would be stretching it. You could taste more raspberry tones than red velvet. Pretty lacklustre for me. We both preferred the caramel soft serve. If you like peanut butter, chocolate and caramel, this will be your jam. Main issue we had with both is how easily it crumbles/falls apart. That and there’s not much seating outside. They kicked us out of the area that wasn’t part of their seating because they would potentially get in trouble for that.

Worth trying once for the “experience” but the soft serve is not particularly special. Then again, they have three locations so they must be doing something right. All about the Instagram likes.

Sweet Jesus
http://www.sweetjesus4life.com/
106 John Street
Toronto, ON
(647) 348-1166

Sweet Jesus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pai

I really wanted to try one of the popular northern Thai places while I was in town but seeing as we didn’t have any reservations, I didn’t think we had a good chance of getting into Pai. But then again, it was an early Thursday evening so we gave it a shot. Turns out we got to Pai just before the dinner rush and we’re able to put our name down on the list before it got crazy. The wait was only 25-30 minutes!

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The inside had me reminiscing about my travels back in Chiang Mai. The decor is a nice balance between cool hipster and Thai market/street food style. The place is bustling, the crowd young and filled with chatter. If you can, sit on their patio!

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So many cool drinks. They even have Thai buckets!

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The whole menu sounded delicious. We were having a hard time narrowing it down to three dishes for the two of us.

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Four spice levels to choose from! Mild, medium, farang (foreigner spicy) and phet mak mak (Thai spicy). Genius.

Grabong ($12.50)
DSC06446Vegetarian deep fried battered squash fritters with a garlic tamarind dip. Seemed like everyone around us was getting this as their starter so we did the same. The squash fritters were piled high – nicely battered and crunchy but the dip is what makes this dish. Magic. Wish they had a half size option as this dish is massive and way too much for two people to share.

Chef Nuit pad thai ($15.00)
DSC06448Stir fried rice noodle in a homemade tamarind sauce with bean sprouts, tofu, egg, chives, Thai coriander, fresh lime and home roasted peanuts. Noodles had a nice chewy texture to them and the tamarind sauce was perfect. Not too sweet, tangy. This was pretty legit.

Gaeng hunglay ox tail ($15.00)
DSC06449Sweet and sour ox tail ginger curry. Served with steamed jasmine rice. Ox tail is always good in my books but I don’t think I’ve ever had it Thai style.

DSC06450The curry was rich and heavy but the ginger helped cut down the richness somewhat. Meat was succulent and tender but there was a bit more bone that I would have liked.

We rolled out of Pai stuffed to the brim but extremely satisfied with our meal. Next time, I’ll be sure to bring more friends out to try way more things. I’d be happy to eat my way through Pai’s menu!

Pai
http://www.paitoronto.com/
18 Duncan Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 901-4724

Pai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rasa Bar

This is one of Ju’s favourite neighbourhood restaurants and I can see why. The perfect place to come for a late night drink and food. We showed up late Thursday night and the patio was bumping. Love the layout as the patio wraps around the sidewalk so you can people watch the night away.

We had a couple drinks to start (pricey at $12.00 to 14.00 but smooth) and they brought out a little amuse bouche for us to snack on while we waited.

Amuse bouche
Rasa BarCheese puffs with a roasted red pepper spread. It was light, flaky, just the perfect bite sized to open the palate up. Well, for my friend at least! I was way too stuffed from eating all day to have a bite of her burger.

Burger ($17.00)
Ground steak, beef cheek, provolone, gochujang sauce and beansprout kimchi. Interesting combination with the Korean fusion influences. Ju ordered it and devoured her burger so I’m guessing that’s a very good sign.

Rasa’s Set Monday’s menu looks pretty intriguing. $40.00 per person for an amuse bouche, salad, two mini entrees and dessert. Damn, that’s a steal!

Rasa Bar
http://rasabar.ca/
196 Robert Street
Toronto, ON
(647) 350-8221

Rasa Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fancy Franks

After our late dinner, we decided to walk around the area. Ju wanted to stop in for some freshly made mini donuts and me being such a good friend, of course, obliged. We must have got there just before they were closing as one of the workers informed us that it was take out only.

Cinammon sugar mini donuts ($3.00 half dozen)
Fancy FranksThese taste just like the mini donuts you get at the fair. I liked how they were hot and fresh out of the deep fryer. Not really my go to for late night snacks but I can see the appeal. At least it’s cheap! Eat ’em while they’re hot.

Fancy Franks
http://www.fancyfranks.com/
326 College Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 920-3647

Fancy Franks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Hogtown Pub and Oysters

Last stop of the night for the two of us. Man, Thursday nights are absolutely bumping in Toronto. Every bar, club and restaurant that was passed was packed with people enjoying the perfect summer weather. Our last stop ended up being at Hogtown for some good ‘ol wine and oysters. Because who can say no to half price oysters?

The inside is dark, intimate and just gives off good vibes. Everyone inside seemed to know each other and from what Ju told me, it’s very friendly, family oriented here.

Oysters ($18.00 dozen)
HogtownThat’s right, half price oysters on a Thursday! Yes please and thank you. These were fresh and came with a three different sauces to try (can’t remember them now) but I think I prefer them in a traditional fashion. Put a bit of horseradish and squeeze some lemon on. Nothing more satisfying than tasting the actual oyster.

The Hogtown Pub and Oysters
http://www.thehogtownpub.com/
633 College Street W
Toronto, ON
(416) 645-0285

The Hogtown Pub and Oysters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Chase

When you go out to eat with my cousin, you know you’re in for good times. It’d been way too long since we last hang out so I let her choose the spot for a Friday work lunch (well, work for her at least). She loves classy spots so she ended up choosing The Chase – did I mention it has an unreal rooftop patio?

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To get to said rooftop, you need to take the shortcut alleyway to the back of the restaurant and upon entering, you’ll see an elevator to your left. Take that and you’ll be whisked up to the top floor.

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Be prepared to eat with all the downtown workers, all dressed up in suits and dresses. Felt sorry for them because it was scorcher of a day and the sun was out full blast. Lucky, we had a table by the windows and were partially covered.

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This place is fancyyyyy. Heck, they filmed an episode of Suits in the back area of the restaurant. Nice to see they have a lunch menu but prices fall into dinner territory.

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Appetizers and couple sharing plates to start.

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Entrees are split into meat, fish and vegetables/pasta. There’s also a couple sides to throw in for good measure.

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Service was top notch as our waitress was on top of drinks and the works. I believe one of the cooks came out to bring out one of their dishes which was a nice touch.

Lamb ($28.00)
DSC06463Shank tagine, pomegranate, grilled bitter greens and couscous. Oh man, the couscous and vegetables (roasted cauliflower and carrots) were unbelievable. Pomegranate and lamb is a great combo although normally you see that with Persian food. Lamb was flavourful but I wish it was more gamey. You couldn’t really tell that it was lamb, which defeats the purpose of ordering it. Give me that lamb, gamey, juicyness.

Albacore tuna ($29.00)
DSC06461Seared loin crusted in fresh herbs served with mixed grain salad, pickled vegetables, feta and olives. Look at the sear on the outside and nice rawness on the inside. Nice thickness, perfectly cooked with a super tasty sauce underneath.

Frites ($8.00)
DSC06465Pecorino, truffle and herb aioli. S wanted fries to round out our meal and these were satisfying.

Cool, trendy spot if you like combining food with rooftops and patios. Bring the expense account card with you! Anyone know where I can get one of those?

The Chase
http://www.thechasefo.com/
10 Temperance Street
Toronto, ON
(647) 348-7000

The Chase Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CJ Lunch Box

There’s something to be said about having the option to eat somewhere decent without breaking the bank account. Ju took me to one of her favourite quick, cheap sushi takeout joints. Although, we ended up sitting outside on their little patio which I thought was great! Perfect downtown people watching spot.

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Spicy red tuna and half shrimp/half avocado ($5.00 each)
DSC06470I don’t think you could get sushi any cheaper. Don’t expect the best sushi but these will do if you’re hungry and want something to fill you up. I tried one of the spicy red tuna rolls and it was decent. That about sums it up perfectly.

Great value for the price. I’d eat this over anything you’d get at a grocery store. Solid grab and go spot for a quick and easy meal.

CJ Lunch Box
409 Richmond Street W
Toronto, ON
(416) 913-9264

CJ Lunch Box Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sugar Beach

My cousin suggested checking out this place so I decided to do a quick detour while I was biking to check it out.

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There must have been a random festival going on as there were all these food trucks surrounding Sugar Beach. I basically walked in and out of it. If you like man made beaches, this might be your thing.

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Otherwise, there’s not much to see or do here other than to get your tan on.

Sugar Beach
http://www.waterfrontoronto.ca/explore_projects2/east_bayfront/canadas_sugar_beach
25 Dockside Drive
Toronto, ON

The Distillery District

The Distillery District was the main area that I wanted to check out. Tons of boutique shops, restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and ice cream. Heck, they even have a sake tasting spot.

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Lots of cool things to see and check out. Loving the brick walls and pavements.

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Spotted a random Toronto Maple Leafs goalie statue.

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Also stumbled upon the LOVE sign made completely from lockets. Guess this is Toronto’s version of the infamous one you find in Paris. Still cool.

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The Distillery District
http://www.thedistillerydistrict.com/
55 Mill Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 364-1177

Brick Street Bakery

Stopped in for a quick snack while I was walking around the Distillery District and stumbled upon Brick Street Bakery. It seemed pretty popular (they have four locations) as there was a constant flow of people coming in and out so I stepped inside to take a look. It smelled heavenly inside. Nothing like the fresh smell of baked goodies.

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They have warm and cold sandwich options along with a couple of daily soups.

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One of the pastry displays. Lots of selection to choose from including loafs, tarts, macarons and bars. Would love to have tried out their fresh loaves!

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No place to sit inside but there are a handful of tables outside. Similar to the cute French cafe type of seating.

Almond croissant ($2.25)
DSC06487Light, flaky, buttery and a generous portion of the frangipane filling. I was content after devouring this.

No complaints on my end! Perfect spot to grab a bite before/after exploring the Distillery area.

Brick Street Bakery
http://www.brickstreetbakery.com/
55 Mill Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 214-4949

Brick Street Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taco Fest

I can’t remember which tacos go with which anymore but we came Friday night to check out Taco Fest (which happens June 17 – 19). $10.00 for entry, make sure you buy your tickets beforehand because it sold out all three days!

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You walk inside and proceed to buy taco tickets. We weren’t sure how much to buy but all the tacos were in the 2-3 ticket range. 1 ticket costs $2.00. Not cheap but you’re paying for the scene. So many stylish, young, hipster people here, it made for a fun atmosphere. Just be prepared to wait in line for every station. It was annoying how a couple vendors didn’t post that they were sold out of certain dishes.

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Taco Fest menu.

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Menu split into outdoor and inside vendors.

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I’ll just let the tacos and sauces speak for themselves!

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In case you didn’t stuff yourself silly enough, there was an ice cream truck parked outside. The Ice Cream Man?

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Taco Fest Toronto
http://thetacofest.ca/
99 Sudbury Street
Toronto, ON

Car2Go

Best way to get home? Take a Car2Go. Love how the car sharing business is thriving.

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All you need to do is to buy a membership ($35.00 but you can find coupons/codes if you search around) and then it’s $0.41 per minute. Pretty nice to have this option! I personally am a fan as they’re all over the main cities (see them everywhere in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver).

Car2Go
https://www.car2go.com/
Toronto, ON
(855) 454-1002

Crown Princess Fine Dining

The fam jam was also in town so obviously, we needed to go for dim sum. Ju recommended Crown Princess (her other rec was Rol Son, which we went to last time) and seeing as I’d never been here before, it was perfect. We came Saturday morning around 10:00am and we’re able to grab a seat no problem. This place has to be one of the fanciest dim sum places I’ve ate at. Fine dining suits CP’s name perfectly.

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Hours are good. Every day of the week from 10:00am to 11:00pm.

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Look at that entrance. You feel like royalty walking through that door.

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It gets even better inside. Plush, comfy, velvety pink seats, marble flooring and chandeliers. You’re clearly paying for the upscale atmosphere but it’s not too pretentious. I don’t normally like fancy places but I liked it here.

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Dim sum menu is huge. It looks exactly like the one at T. Pot in Calgary. Same font, style and colour. Interesting.

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Close up of the top half of the menu. Zone in on blurry #39. Get it.

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Bottom half. Interesting that they only offer #56-61 after 11:00am.

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There was also a Chef’s special recommendation list.

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4x Tea ($1.60 each)
DSC06535$6.40 for all four of us is some pricey dim sum tea but I will give them props, it was good tea. Plus look how fancy their tea pots are. Fine China game on point.

Har gow (#2) ($5.80)
DSC06524Can’t ever go to dim sum without ordering the har gow. Good ratio of shrimp to skin.

Goose liver & caviar siu mai (#3) ($6.80)
DSC06526Caviar! On siu mai! Can you get any fancier than that? Priciest siu mai’s I’ve ever had but I liked the caviar sprinkled on top.

Sticky rice with chicken meat wrap in lotus leaf (#7) ($5.80)
DSC06531Pretty standard lo mai gai but it’s satisfying if you want a rice dish.

BBQ pork bun (#18) ($3.80)
DSC06530We were too stuffed to eat this at the table but saved them for the road trip. Fluffy bun and the cha sui inside was tasty.

Fried octopus tentacle (#24) ($6.80)
DSC06532The octopus tentacles were bomb. One of my favourite dishes. Perfectly fried, light while still having a bit of chew to the texture. Could have ate a whole dish to myself.

Pan fried turnip cake with pork meat (#29) ($4.80)
DSC06533The lo bak go was pretty standard. Didn’t love it, didn’t hate it. Needed to be more crispy.

Crispy taro & mushroom dumpling (#31) ($4.80)
DSC06528Wu gok was pretty decent. Crispy, not greasy.

Baked BBQ pork puff pastry (#33) ($5.80)
DSC06523BBQ pork anything is good in my books. These were satisfyingly good. Slightly sweeter than the cha sui bao.

Rice noodle wrapped with pork & shrimp (#39) ($6.80)
DSC06534These were AMAZING. I’ve never had these type of rice noodle rolls before. Absolute heaven. Order this for sure! That crunch inside the rice roll is like you’re eating a hybrid spring and rice roll, all wrapped into one delicious bite.

Pumpkin congee with lily & corn (#43) ($5.80)
DSC06527Another first trying pumpkin congee. The flavour is pretty subtle to begin with but it actually grew on me after having another bowl. I’d try it if you like jook and want to try something a little different.

We had a couple boxes of leftovers to eat later on in the afternoon. Overall, the dim sum was good. More pricey than your normal outing but hey, sometimes you gotta treat yo’ self.

Crown Princess Fine Dining
http://crown-princess.ca/english/index.asp
1033 Bay Street
Toronto, ON
(416) 923-8784

Crown Princess Fine Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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