When Michelle, Carol, and Mama told me about their plans to visit Toronto in August, we started to compile a list of restaurants. (Yeah..... we did not compile a list of tourist attractions, we are the eating-kind 😂 ).
At the top of our list was Lai Wah Heen. I’ve heard many good things about this high-end Dim Sum restaurant inside of the DoubleTree hotel at the North West corner of Toronto’s City Hall. I’ve walked by
We went on a Monday afternoon. The first thing that hit me was how quiet the place was. I expect dim sum restaurants or cha lao 茶楼 to be typically loud and busy. It was nothing like that in Lai Wah Heen. Only a few tables were occupied, very empty, very quiet. There were no dim sum dollies also. We were greeted by our server who brought us to a square table right in the middle of the restaurant. Table setting here was on point, with elegant dinnerware and chopstick rests shaped like a dragon.
We ordered a pot of tie kuan yin tea to share. We took a peek in the teapot and saw large tea leaves, a sign of good tea. We’re off to a good start.
Lai Wah Heen has an extensive menu, most of the dishes feature expensive ingredients like truffles, lobster, caviar, etc. Going through the menu, we ordered up 10 dishes for the 4 of us. I was most excited about the lobster dumpling.
Each order only comes with 1 lobster dumpling. We ordered 2 of them to share. When we saw the cute lobster dumpling, oohs and ahhs ensured. Each dumpling is shaped like a lobster, the wrapper is orange with carrot juice, thin and delicate.
The filling was lobster and shrimp meat in garlic butter. I like this. It tastes as good as it looks.
The next dish we ordered was the chicken in truffle dumpling. I like the mix of Chinese and Western flavours used in classic dim sum dishes here. Three carefully crafted dumplings, each with a small shaving of truffle. We could smell the waft of aromatic truffles as this steamed dish was brought to our table.
Tasty indeed. Again, thin wrappers, maximum flavour, and fresh ingredients.
The third dish worthy of mention was the crystal shrimp dumpling. This is a classic dish that’s got to be had at any dim sum place, otherwise, you didn’t have dim sum 😄 At Lai Wah Heen, this dish is made special by the chef’s talented skills in encasing 2 large shrimps inside of the thin delicate wrapper. The shrimps were steamed to the perfect “crunch” texture.
I’m starting to get the hang of things here: thin wrapper, full of flavour, fresh and expensive ingredients.
I’ll skip over the other dishes we had and just let you enjoy the photos.
Baked mini turnover filled with barbecued pork.
Shrimp and yellow chive in rice roll.
Pan-seared minced oyster egg omelet with fish sauce.
Wok-fried diced turnip cake, shrimp and meat with soy.
Onto desserts. We ordered two kinds to try.
The steamed soft bun filled with custard lava has been a trendy food item for years now. The ones here do not disappoint. The buns are fluffy and when ripped open, custard lava gushes out. Beware! It’s steamy hot and oily too! I can eat half a bun, any more and I’ll feel a little sick as it’s very rich and decadent.
Something I’ve never seen anywhere else is their deep-fried pastry stuffed with milk custard and papaya. This is a play on the classic Cantonese papaya sweet soup dessert. Here, the milk custard is encased in a delicate puff pastry. Very pretty to look at.
A very clever technique used by the chefs here. I’m guessing they made the custard into a jelly, wrapped it inside the puff pastry, then deep-fried it briefly. The first 2 bites were delicious. But once you get to the bottom, the bottom crust was uncooked and not as appetising. I would skip this dish next time.
Overall, a nice dim sum experience, very different from your regular cha lao (茶樓 tea house). Different in a sense that the atmosphere is comparable to a fine dining western-style restaurant, with familiar dim sum dishes made with some Western influence.
[Editor's (Johor Kaki) note: Oii! next time bring me hor.... I want eat that lobster 🦞 ]
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Restaurant name: Lai Wah Heen 麗華軒
Address: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Toronto Downtown. 108 Chestnut St, Toronto, ON M5G 1R3, Canada
GPS: 43°39'17.5"N 79°23'09.3"W 🌐 43.654858, -79.385915
Nearest TTC (subway): St. Patrick
Tel: +1 416 977 9899
Hours: 11:30am - 3:00pm, 6:00pm - 10:00pm
Date visited: 26 August 26 2019