January 6, 2011

{Travel} Dim Sum in Toronto: Ding Tai Fung and Pearl Harbourfront

After watching last night's Top Chef All-Stars 'Dim Sum Lose Some' episode (including the contestants' issues in the kitchen), we had a new-found respect for the people who work in these restaurants and churn out dish after dish to the hungry masses.

We love dim sum - it's like Chinese tapas and is our favorite brunch cuisine.  Whenever we go up to visit my family and friends in Toronto, we inevitably spend a lot of time in dim sum restaurants.  The ones we visited while we were there for the holidays were Ding Tai Fung in Richmond Hill/Markham (a suburb just north of Toronto) and Pearl Harbourfront (in downtown Toronto, right on Lake Ontario).  Both are large, clean spaces (that don't have the normal jostling and fighting with grandmas for dishes from the cart) that we would be comfortable bringing first-timers (like my husband's parents).
Ding Tai Fung is similar in name to the popular Din Tai Fung Dumpling Houses that originated in Taiwan (that we hope to visit one day!) but is not a part of that franchise.  We like coming here because you can watch the dumplings being made - perfect entertainment for kids and newcomers!  The restaurant also works well with large groups - perfect for our family dinner with my brother, his girlfriend, and my parents.
We love the soup dumplings here (especially the pork ones which are called steamed minced pork dumplings) and they come in different sizes.  With all of the salty, brothy goodness of these dumplings, I always have to have a plate of greens (usually Chinese broccoli). 
My brother and I couldn't resist the sights and smells of sizzling hot plates everywhere, so we ordered this sirloin beef and onions plate.  The meat was so tender!
This was the most adventurous dish of the night - and the stinkiest!  It was a fried pork intestine dish that wasn't appealing to us - though my mom (and my brother's girlfriend) did eat quite a few pieces.
When in doubt, though, stick with the soup dumplings - pork and/or crab...they all tasted good to us!
Loved the warm deep fried donut puff with powdered sugar on top - they reminded us of bomboloni (Italian donuts).
 And this sweet dessert soup was a nice way to end the meal - though my brother's girlfriend (whose family is from Shanghai) declared it wasn't a true traditional Shanghainese dish (and promised to find us a better alternative - we can't wait!).

Ding Tai Fung is located at 3235 Hwy 7 East, Unit #18B (in First Markham place) in Markham/Richmond Hill just north of Toronto, Canada.

Ding Tai Fong - Shanghai Dim Sum on Urbanspoon

In downtown Toronto, we meet up with friends at Pearl Harbourfront (mainly because my friend's 1 year old daughter is already a regular there!)  With a large, clean dining room and a view of the waterfront, Pearl Harbourfront was a good spot to catch up with our friends.

The food's not bad (with my hubby and my friend's daughter 'fighting' over the sticky rice), but a little pricey and overall I still prefer dim sum in Markham/Richmond Hill.
Besides, what better way to end a post that was inspired by last night's Top Chef episode than with a dim sum dish of Scallop dumplings, of course!

Pearl Harbourfront is located at 207 Queens Quay (at York) in downtown Toronto, Canada.

Pearl Harbourfront on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice Dim Sum! Just had some really awesome dim sum two days ago!

  2. Thanks so much Arthur! Your comments made my day! =) Happy New Year to you too and much luck and happiness for 2011!

  3. Thanks Dave! I'm usually really adventurous with trying weird foods (tripe, feet, tail, ears, etc), but I was too full to even try the pig intestines (and they really did stink!)


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