spa· din· er n.
  1. One from Spadina, esp. the Toronto avenue home to the largest Chinatown in eastern Canada.
  2. One who dines on Spadina Avenue, wordplay.

Culinary mayhem!

  • an expanded lunch group
  • an expanded mandate: trying every ethnic restaurant on Spadina between College and Queen
  • send me your reviews and ratings, and become pseudo-immortal

Rating system

Our panel of critics strives for balance and objectivity. Does yours?
While we strive to achieve good menu coverage, sometimes our love for chicken gets in the way of this goal.

Spadina Nirvana
It's a wonderful world, and Spadina is a special part of that world.
Spadina Havana
Good food, good times, we'd even come back for seconds.
Spadina Santana
Essentially decent yet ... ultimately lacking.
Spadina banana
Why must we play this silly game?
Spadina can't-stand-ya
We accept your thanks for pointing out this threat to public health.

Previous Work

Exhaustive search, O(n)

To garner "restaurant" status, an establishment needs chairs, menus we can hold in our hands, and someone who is paid to bring us tea. Also, it needs to be open at lunch on Wednesdays. Three SPADINERS is considered a quorum.
[Chronological] [By Rating] [By Name]

Kom Jug Yuen Restaurant, Jun 23, 2004
  371 Spadina Avenue
Kom Jug Yuen serves fresh Chinese food at really low prices in an unassuming space in Chinatown. One of the house specialties is the crispy beef, a real salt hit but truly outstanding and addictive. Thin deep-fried crispy rounds of salty beef are served with a spicy sauce. Noodle dishes are spicy, with the curried Singapore vermicelli a special treat of shrimp and vegetables made fresh every time and served steaming hot. Pickerel in black bean sauce is also excellent. BBQ pork, duck and ribs are done nicely, with a big portion for a small price. The duck is moist with an intense and smoky taste. There are specials featuring food that is not haute cuisine but fresh and honest, not soggy or dried out after sitting for hours on a steam table. (web)

Kim Hung Vietnamese Restaurant, Jun 16, 2004
  369 Spadina Avenue
Competent and cheap, but not very memorable I guess. (SH)

Sichuan Garden Restaurant, Jun 9, 2004
  359 Spadina Avenue
Oddly cool black-lacquered chairs and attentive service in a large and largely empty dining space. The soup was only average, and some of the dishes swam in oil, but it's hard to argue with tastiness, large quantities, and a price tag of $4.50. (SH)

Noodles Restaurant, May 12, 2004
  357 Spadina Avenue
Downstairs from street level and recently open for lunch. The place may have undergone renovations too, but that part wasn't clear. Serves noodles (of course) in brown flavourful soup, and worthwhile doughy dumplings. The spicy chicken (no accompaniments) was also enjoyed, and the teacups were more mug-like than thimble-like, a real novelty in the world of jasmine tea. Odd but good-natured service. (SH)

New Sky Restaurant, May 5, 2004
  353 Spadina Avenue
Small portions of candied meat served with an inverted bowl of rice, and greasy spring rolls that few of us finished. Cheap and palatable, in unremarkable North American Chinese style. Laughably abrupt and officious service. (SH)

Xam Yu Seafood Restaurant, Apr 28, 2004
  339 Spadina Avenue
Specializes in set-course seafood feasts for dinner (recommended), but also serves tasty American Szechwan dishes for lunch (works out to $9 per dish, with soup, for 4). The stuffed eggplant with tofu and black bean sauce was sublime, the orange crispy beef was shockingly flavourful and honeyed, and everything else was well-appreciated too. Good quantity, but remember you need a side order of rice. (SH)

Rol San Restaurant, Apr 21, 2004
  323 Spadina Avenue
Crazy busy at lunch time, even the huge banquet room in the back fills up, and the waiters run around like chickens with their heads cut off. It took many requests to make sure everybody had a teacup, and trying to get some soya sauce bordered on the ridiculous! Most people go for the dim sum (ordered by menu), which is of variable quality but fresh. But if you like chicken feet, this is the place to get some. (SH)

Swatow Restaurant, Apr 14, 2004
  309 Spadina Avenue
Specializing in Chiu Chow cuisine (I wish I knew what that means). Service was brusque, and they literally pushed the plastic menus into our faces. Quality and prices (for lunch) are both above average for Spadina. Especially recommended: shrimp and eggplant on rice, with spicy black bean sauce (#106, $6.95). (SH)

Excellent Peking House, Apr 7, 2004
  263 Spadina Avenue
The surprise here was the very affordably priced special, $4 will get you a nice dish with rice, a hot & sour soup, and a springroll, or a noodle dish with the hot & sour soup. The food was good, and plentiful, so it makes for a very good deal all around. (FE)

Bun Saigon, Mar 31, 2004
  252 Spadina Avenue
The food was excellent, especially the dishes with grilled meats such as pork and chicken, well seasoned, and very generous portions of meat (a first at Vietnamese places down Spadina). The service was great, and there was plenty of good tea and good food. (FE)

Bo de Duyen, Mar 24, 2004
  254 Spadina Avenue
Pronounced: "Bo-Day-Dween". Temporarily closed last week, this place was lucky enough to have two (!) entrances straddling Bun Que Huong, so we were able to visit without having to retrace our steps. Both entrances lead up steep narrow stairs to a dining room of meat-free delights. Tasty, with good selection, but kind of glutenous though. If you can handle the grease, try the deep fried spring rolls. Unfortunately, the ersatz shredded pork seemed to have melted away into the tofu and eggplant sauce. (SH)

Bun Que Huong, Mar 17, 2004
  262 Spadina Avenue
Good pho and spring rolls, but stay away from the pork cutlet on a bed of rice. Large, busy dining room with good service. They caught us passing a counterfeit $20 bill, which could only have come from an ATM, we swear. Or one of us isn't telling the whole truth... (SH)

Goldstone Noodle Restaurant, Mar 10, 2004
  266 Spadina Avenue
Diner-styled Chinese food, served by staff in matching pinstriped blouses, with french fries and ham sandwiches on the menu too. Cheap and plentiful, but basically uninspired tastes. While the sui kai dumplings and deep-fried wontons were nice, the soup was bland, and the noodle substrate was too mealy and stuck together. Service was fast but dishes appeared at random times, at random places on the table. (SH)

Pho 88 Vietnamese Famous, Mar 3, 2004
  270 Spadina Avenue
Turquoise faux-formica tableau, voted Toronto's best by Toronto Sun ad department, open Friday and Saturday till 5 am. Pho contents: Regulation raw beef, slivered Spanish and chopped green onion, sprouts, one green bird chili, Thai basil, tiny wedge of wizened lemon, slippery rice stick, dark gold anise-heavy broth. (web)

Sky Dragon Chinese Cuisine, Feb 25, 2004
  280 Spadina Avenue
Upstairs inside the mall on the corner of Dundas, Sky Dragon barely qualifies as a Spadina address. If you're lucky enough to get a window seat, the view of the city is supposed to be nice. Alas, no such luck for us. Tasty and affordable dim sum on offer, perhaps even on par with Bright Pearl, and many busily circulating carts ensure freshness. Very little English is spoken here, so just wave your hands and try a bit of everything. I was particularly impressed with the triangular pork dumplings, everything with shrimp, and something with cashews inside. (SH)

King's Noodle House, Feb 11, 2004
  296 Spadina Avenue
Judging by the (predominantly Asian) crowd, King's Noodle Restaurant, an old haunt I hadn't visited in years, still ranks high. The place passes your basic noodle-house roll call: there's an open kitchen with multiple woks as you come in, a take-out barbecue counter opposite and a stack of salted loofah-shaped doughnuts on the counter. Food appears quickly, but in an awkward order. The large vegetable spring rolls ($2.25) are very hot and crispy, but leave a disquieting pool of excess oil on the plate. The noodles, though, have a lingering processed taste, as if they've been cooked separately and thrown in at the end. (web)

Dumpling House, Feb 4, 2004
  328 Spadina Avenue
The Dumpling House specializes in gao, wonton wrappers stuffed with mini meatballs. The House offers 15 types of dumplings, including standard pork and shrimp combos as well as fantastic lamb ($3.99 for six/$6.59 a dozen), chopped spinach 'n' vermicelli and delicious fennel with minced pork (both $3.59/$5.99). Dumplings come steamed or fried gyoza-style and get sided with challenging stuff like soya intestine ($5.25, and 100-per-cent tofu), smashed garlic with skinned English cuke or chewy sliced pig ears ($3.59, pork). (web)

Kim Hoa BBQ & Seafood House, Jan 28, 2004
  332 Spadina Avenue
If you are seeking glamour, this is not the place, there are no paintings on the walls, plastic sheets cover the tables and a take out window just inside the restaurant flaunts whole ducks and pigs strung from the ceiling above the counter. The specials are marked on a chalkboard – in Chinese. Our server speaks little English – only Chinese. But the BBQ duck was the absolutely remarkable. It melted upon impact with your tongue and released a sweet and delicate flavor before disappearing quickly. The BBQ pork had a crisp crust of similar flavor to the duck and was equally as moist. My fortune read “Good Fortune is yours today” and it was, because I had finally had Canadian Chinese food that I could brag to my friends in Shanghai about. (web)

Taste of China Seafood Restaurant, Jan 21, 2004
  338 Spadina Avenue
Tasty food, much better than the decor or service would suggest, but beware: it's too expensive for a typical Spadina lunch. There's no special lunch menu, and you could eat one of the $11 dishes by yourself pretty easily. Even then, the rice and soup would cost extra. Favourites included the plump ground-pork dumplings, some chicken-eggplant dish, and General Tso's chicken (like spicy candy). (SH)

Bright Pearl, Dec 9, 2003
  348 Spadina Avenue
Pseudo-elegant dim sum dining in a wedding hall space, complete with elevated head tables and an empty dancefloor, in the process of being scrubbed by a team of busy Santa-hatted staff. The food comes on carts, and the overall impression is that you're attending a catered event, with the same dim sum as usual, but from better than (Spadina) average ingredients. I'd hoped for a larger selection, or some truly bold and fantastic dishes, but all the dishes seemed content to shine one cut above their mediocre Spadina brethren. Had we known, we might have planned our visit during cheaper off-peak Happy Hour (lunch before 11:30am or after 1:30pm), but the full prices were still reasonable. (SH)

Pho Hung, Dec 2, 2003
  350 Spadina Avenue
Another cheap lunch is Vietnamese beef noodles from restaurants like Pho Huong Viet and Pho Hung (the one with the laughing cow logo), where a fragrant bowl of noodles with beef brisket, meatballs and/or tripe will set you back around $5. (web)

Happy Seven, Nov 25, 2003
  358 Spadina Avenue
Open really, really late - but deserted at lunchtime. The Singapore noodles and wonton soup were nice, and the cut oranges were a welcome touch for dessert. No lunch specials per se, and the other dishes we tried were bland and mediocre. Can do better for the same money elsewhere. (SH)

Cho-Lon Noodles, Pho Huong Viet, Nov 18, 2003
  374 Spadina Avenue
The eponymous Cho-Lon Noodles, Phuc Kien style, were grand. So too was the vermicelli with BBQ pork and spring rolls. However, the odd-shaped beef cutlets disappointed us, bitterly. Attentive service. (SH)

Miss Saigon, Nov 11, 2003
  394 Spadina Avenue
Good, yes, but not as great as I remembered it. It was packed inside, and the server was wearing a translucent yellow bridesmaid gown. Food came slowly, the iceberg lettuce salad failed impress as always, and some big hunks of fat in the curry were off-putting. The lunch special is good value at $5.50, especially with the $0.50 spring roll upgrade. The quality is consistently good (the comparison was made to fajitas), but ordering outside of the lunch menu is sure to bring disappointment -- basically you get the same quantity as the specials for almost twice the price. Still, I like the tea, and the caramelized prawns ($13.95) and hearty lamb soup ($7.95) do make an excellent dinner. (SH)

Postscript: I vote 3.5 for Miss Saigon, I went there a couple of days ago and it was great. Delicious soup in the menu (the best I've had so far), very good dish. Service was good too. (MT)

New Kee Hong Vegetarian Healthy Food, Nov 4, 2003
  396 Spadina Avenue
Offering an extensive menu of vegetarian faux meat items, including vegetarian seafood. Huge portions and reasonably priced lunch combos. They've even got a small section of real meat items to keep your carnivorous dining companions happy. (web)

Thai Bangkok, Oct 28, 2003
  412 Spadina Avenue
Really a mixed bag. Beware the subtle difference between lunch special and lunch combo. The latter costs $2 more for the addition of an uninspiring small greasy spring roll, and a small portion of bland, greasy pad thai. While the chicken wings, ginger beef, and fried rice were basically enjoyed, the red curry was deemed far below average. Only worth it if you know what and how to order; otherwise you're in for an overpriced underperformance. (SH)

New Ho King, Oct 14, 2003
  416 Spadina Avenue
Apparently the sauces were lacking in taste, the rice with pork had trace amounts of pork, the dumplings were slightly soggy, and the overall experience was slightly lacking in goodness... but they do have affordable, sizable portions of Chinese stuff. (FE)

Lucky Dragon, Oct 7, 2003
  418 Spadina Avenue
The consensus is that the place was not quite as good as the Szechwan King, and there were some objections to the sweet and sour soup, as well as some of the sauces for the main dishes. Still, it's quite economical, and the wonton soup is wonderful. (FE)

Szechwan Chung King, Sep 30, 2003
  428 Spadina Avenue
Limited lunch special selection, and the food was slower to arrive than most places, but the quality was higher, with good attention paid even to the lowly vegetables. Everyone enjoyed their meal, and the upstairs location is a nice escape from Spadina street-level too. Dishes ordered from the regular menu were sizable and also tasty. (SH)

Golden Restaurant, Sep 23, 2003
  440 Spadina Avenue
Dim sum on the cheap, but not that high-quality either. I remember the stuffed crab dim sum being good, although at lunch prices you get relatively fewer of the expensive stuff. The standard Chinese food combos were pretty uneven, with some dishes more enjoyed than others. (SH)

Saigon Palace, Sep 16, 2003
  454 Spadina Avenue
They serve all the familiar Vietnamese dishes with vermicelli, phos (noodle soups), spring rolls. Saigon Palace has a seriously loyal following. I didn't know this but according to Lee it's the oldest Vietnamese restaurant in Toronto. It first opened back in 1979. Saigon Palace has amazing value. All the dishes are 5 to 8 dollars. Try their fruit shakes. They come in the familiar flavours such as mango, strawberry but my favourite is sour sop. (web)


Left to right: Alice, Daniela, Cristi, Sam, Aurelie, Paco, George

Left to right: Alex, Alice, Sam, Aurelie, Paco, Phuong

Further inspriration