As you are well aware, Lai Wah Heen is Toronto's most expensive Chinese Restaurant. However, like a good Michelin star restaurant, they do try to deliver the 'complete package' (food,wine,service.ambience). One major stumbling block,I find, dining in Toronto's Chinese restaurants are their often lousy service. Fortunately, in LWH's case they do try to deliver service that are commensurable with their food quality and prices.
As for their food; Are you planning to have a Dim Sum lunch there or a more elaborate multi course/dishes dinner? If it is Dim Sum you are after, then LWH is 'THE' restaurant to go. Its Dim Sum chef used to hone his skill in the kitchen of Hong Kong Peninsula Hotel's prestigious Cantonese Restaurant. This is reflected by the quality, presentation and variety of their Dim Sum dishes. A common test to determine how skillful the Chefs and how good the Dim Sums are in a Chinese Restaurant is to try out their Steamed Shrimp Dumplings - 'Har Gow'. The perfect Har Gow, which requires top notch skill to make and precise timing to cook, must have a wrapping that is ultra thin and translucent and yet have the flexibility and structural integity to remain intact when being picked up by chopsticks. Furthermore, the cooking time must be such that the wrapping does not turn mushy and start adhering to the steamer. Next, the shrimp and bamboo shoot filling must have a crunchy consistency. This is a test on how fresh the shrimps are. Also, whole shrimps rather than diced up ones should be used. LWH met and passed this test with flying colours.
As for dinner, the one time that I ate there, I found the food good but nothing exceptional. But at the price they are charging I would rather head out to say 'Jade Dynasty' in North York or 'Dragon Dynasty' in Scarborough. (Unless you also place 'class' and 'ambience' as a major criteria, then LWH will be the obvious choice). Now, if you really wanted some great Chinese food but in a much more casual environment, then try out 'Judy's Kitchen' inside of Times Square on Highway 7, Richmond Hill or 'O'Mei' at the corner of Spadina and Highway 7. If heading north is too much a drive for you, then try out 'New Sky' on 353 Spadina Ave., downtown. This is the current 'in-place' amongst Chinese foodies. For the more casual places, always remember to ask the server to decipher the 'Daily Specials' on the black board! Usually you will find uncommon dishes and/or fresh seafood listed. Last time I ate at some of the above establishments, I found they have live scallops in the shell, live razor clams, live Alaskan king crab ($280 each!!), soft shell'lobster!', live Turbot from France ($28/lb), live spotted prawns from Florida ($24/lb), Roast pigeon a la Hong Kong style, Smoked soy marinated free-range chicken etc..... Have Fun!!!
FYI. I too had a wonderful experience dining at Taillevent. However, that was a few years ago when Vrinat was still the chef. My current Parisian favourite is Pierre Gagnaire with Guy Savoy a close second. My all time French favourite is Gerard Boyer's Les Crayeres. I can still remember vividly being served ' A deboned Pig's trotter stuffed with foie gras' as an appertizer. What a start to a Michelin 3 star tasting menu experience!! The 8 variety 'death by chocolate' dessert was also amazing!
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