Through this dreadful winter, we've avoided going downtown for Chinese dinner because of the plethora of choices in the local suburbs. On a beautiful Saturday, my family ventured down to New Ho King on Spadina, an old favourite of my extended family. Chowhounders may recall that the last post concerning this restaurant ignited a minor firestorm of dissent, with numerous CHers complaining about the food. I myself was roundly criticized for suggesting that my experiences were uniformly positive because I spoke Cantonese and ordered more authentic dishes. My comment was not intended to belittle those who did not speak Cantonese nor those who could not read Chinese. Regretfully, I played hooky from Chinese school when I was a kid. I am Chinese illiterate. My comment was intended to spur adventurous CHers into asking the servers to recommend more authentic dishes. I suggested (and was flogged for my comment) that to order Canadian Chinese dishes such as egg rolls, sweet and sour chicken balls etc. was not a good indication of this restaurant's capabilities.
There were lineups galore on Saturday night (I was foolish not to phone ahead for a reservation) and the crowd was equally divided between Chinese and non-Chinese. The dishes I ordered reflected the tastes of my family and weren't necessarily what a typical family might order.
We were given a complimentary bowl of soup de jour to start. It was a delicious ginseng broth simmered with chicken feet. My family finished every drop! We had a platter of toothsome sea scallops with Chinese greens. The dish was redolent of fresh ginger. We had the house special Sau See Guy in which the meaty bones of a whole chicken are dredged and deep fried as bed for all of the chicken's meat (very velvety), snow peas, celery, carrot scallions and straw mushrooms. The dish exudes "wok hay" and is one of our favourites. The next dish served was the 100 Blossom shrimp rolls, a dish in which numerous large shrimp are butterflied, stuffed with sweet Chinese sausage and scallion and smothered in beaten eggs and fried, then finished with a delicious sauce similar to that typically used with Pei Pa (banjo style) tofu. We had a hotpot casserole of tofu braised with a melange of plump, juicy shrimps, sea scallops and squid, bedded on tasty braised lettuce (thus absorbing all the flavours).. We had Cantonese style sliced beef chow mein, which was unusually flavourful and boasted lots of tender beef. The "piece de resistance" was a large serving of incredibly rich braised pork belly with silky "mui choy" (pickled, preserved mustard cabbage) known in Cantonese as "Kow Yuk". With steamed rice, the entire meal was only $74 !! (before tax and tip). Beware - the portions at New Ho King are enormous !
This is not "Gourmet" Cantonese cuisine which we would find in many a suburban "white cloth" establishment. But the wonderful flavours, portions, prices and quick service are exactly what the generations of my family always sought in a Cantonese family style meal. Very satisfying indeed !!!
New Ho King
416 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T2G7, CA
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