For years, this decade old gastronomic stalwart has been recognized by most as GTA’s top destination for high-end Cantonese fare. However, typical reviews by bloggers had focused mainly on commending the refined selection and well crafted array of, pricier-than-norm, traditional and nouveau southern style Dim Sum.
In my opinion, Casa Imperial’s forte is not the former, but rather, it is their frequently over-looked, exotic offering and polished execution of traditional, authentic and refined Cantonese cuisine. The best way to savor this culinary experience would be to participate in their prix-fix round table banquet style dinner. This multi-course dinner will afford the opportunity to show case the chef’s skill and creation, usually featuring rare and extravagant ingredients.
Tonight’s attendance of a distant relative’s Grand Child birthday dinner provided me with a rare opportunity to savor and relish this form of elegant fine Chinese dining in Toronto.
The round table, multi-course fare comprised the following progression of courses:
- Slow roasted whole suckling piglet.
- Fried de-boned whole chicken wings with flavored glutinous rice stuffing.
- Pan fried Tiger-prawns in Maggi sauce paired with seared Hokkaido diver scallops in spiced pepper salt.
- Braised Sharks Fin with freshly shucked crab meat.
- ‘Sha-Tin’ style whole hand-held, oil poached, roasted pigeons.
- Sautéed Pea-sprouts with shredded Conpoy ( Sun dried scallops )in Shan-Tong broth.
- Stirred fry twin lobsters with salted duck egg yolk batter coating.
- Steamed duo of Sea-Bass with finely julienned ginger and scallions in premium top soya sauce.
- Traditional steamed ‘Lotus Leaf’ mixed meat and seafood fried rice.
- Braised E-Fu noodles with mixed mushrooms and abalone sauce.
- Mochi with Sesame paste filling and purple rice dessert soup.
- Mango jello cake and Chinese Almond cookies.
On the whole, the entire meal was well executed and lovingly presented. A testament of the skill of the kitchen.
Food delivery and service by a brigade of efficient, well-coordinated and friendly staff resulted in the arrival of the food at the table, still fresh and hot.
Now, onto the FOOD!
Majority of food were of high caliber. A few stand out dishes included the superb roasted pigeons. Well seasoned with crispy lacquered skin and juicy, moist interior. It was finger licking good. Reminiscent of Hong Kong’s iconic Michelin star Fook Lam Moon’s famed rendition!
The crispy and rather unique stuffed Chicken-wing, taken from a page from Hong Kong’s Michelin 2* Celebrity Cuisine(?), was a delicious ‘finger-food’, kicked up a notch!
Considering the quantity involved, the umami ladened crunchy Tiger prawns and sweet, seared Scallops were perfectly cooked and delivered piping hot!
The heart and soul of a well prepared Shark’s Fin soup rests mainly on the taste and quality of the ‘ Shan Tong’ broth used. In Casa Imperial’s case, the commendable, delicate, umami rich and delicious broth played a major part in the success of the dish. Of course, the generous amount of fresh crab meat used also helped!
Usually watery and unassuming, however, Casa Imperial’s version of the sautéed pea-sprouts was surprisingly full of attractive ‘wok-hay’ goodness. Again, the amount of shredded Conpoy used was extremely generous.
Considering the quantity involved, cooking of the steamed sea-bass was perfectly timed to the second. Once again, a reflection of the skill of the chefs.
Unfortunately, amongst the suite of admirable and delectable dishes, the otherwise, almost perfect, meal was slightly marred by a couple of mild and tolerable disappointments. The first dish that comes to mind was the Roasted Suckling Piglet. Supposedly offering slices of addictive, fluffy light and crunchy skin, sadly a few of the Casa Imperial’s offering was a bit dense and lacked the desirable crispy texture and mouth feel. The other slightly weak dish was the stirred fry lobsters. Cooked a touch dry, the morsels lacked the eagerly anticipated, finger-licking and sticky goodness of the salty rich, duck egg yolk. Both dishes actually fared better in the hands of Casa Imperial’s sister establishment - ‘ Casa Victoria ‘s kitchen.
Still, overall, the meal was most enjoyable and worthy of praise. If this high standard of food preparation can be consistently maintained, Casa Imperial’s position as one of GTA’s top Cantonese fine-dining establishment should be hard to unseat!