I am elated that I may have found one of the few Chinese restaurants in downtown Toronto where the food is not super greasy, not laden with MSG/salt/corn-starch, and the premises is CLEAN! That's right folks! Your shoes will not stick to the floor of the restaurant, nor will you leave the restaurant nauseous and thirsty!
Rainbow Restaurant is a relatively new establishment (I first noticed it a few months ago) on Dundas, just west of Spadina. Most of the food on the menu is Cantonese style cooking, although the abundant Vietnamese writing on the menu would lead you to think otherwise. There is also a smattering of the obligatory 'gwai lo' favourites of Kung Pao Chicken and General Tso's Chicken on the menu. The serving sizes are slightly smaller than what you would find elsewhere in Chinatown, but value is still high.
Myself and my dining partner ordered two dishes in addition to plain rice: braised duck with shiitake mushrooms and bok choy, and sauteed grouper with mixed vegetables.
The braised duck dish was quite good. The duck had been de-boned prior to cooking, which made eating it a whole lot easier. The duck was very lean, so it got a bit dry as the dish cooled, but otherwise, no real complaints. The best part about this dish is that eventhough it was served with a brown sauce that was poured over the arrangement, the sauce did not overpower the taste of the food.
The grouper dish was very good. The fish was sauteed with garlic, ginger, scallions, carrots, and mushrooms, and served over an arrangement of lightly sauteed broccoli florets. There was no sauce to this dish... just clear and simple flavours of the ingredients they used. The fish tasted fresh, and the garlic and ginger added depth in flavour.
Upon asking for our bill, our waitress also brought us complimentary desserts: tapioca in coconut milk. It wasn't the best tapioca dessert soup I've had, but at least it wasn't the red bean dessert soup they serve everywhere else... and it was free!
Our only real compliant was that the mushrooms in the dishes we had were all canned. I can sort of understand the use of canned shiitakes, as fresh and dried ones tend to be pricey. However, the use of canned button mushrooms is somewhat disappointing considering the availability and relative inexpensiveness of button mushrooms.
Overall, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of food we had at Rainbow Restaurant, considering the predominance of mediocre and less-than-mediocre establishments in Chinatown. We were most impressed by the imperceptible use of MSG by the cook...Chinese food tastes so much better this way.