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Toronto, Ontario, Freelance Copywriter,
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Kim Hoa Seafood Restaurant- 4/5

335 Spadina Ave. Toronto

Sometimes it is impossible to rate Chinese food as there are so many varieties. In a country of 1.28 billion people living in 40 different provinces spanning over 9,596,960 sq km, it would be awfully strange if everyone ate the same things. Stepping off of Mainland China, there is Hong Kong where the native Cantonese cuisine flourishes. Cantonese cuisine is so popular in Europe and North America that the average Chinese food lover in Canada is only familiar with one small portion of what Chinese Food has to offer; Hong Kong Cantonese. Now I love Canadian Chinese food just as much as I love Hong Kong Chinese Food or Shanghai Chinese food or even Beijing Chinese food. To find a Chinese restaurant in Toronto that takes the step away from Combo # 1 beef and broccoli served with chicken friend rice and an egg roll – well, that was an experience worth sharing.

One block north of Dundas Street West on Spadina Ave is Kim Hoa Seafood Restaurant. We stumbled across this cozy eatery while seeking a Mao Tse Dong statue to put with our collection of political art. While we were unsuccessful in finding a Mao statue that would meet our criteria, we forgot completely the reason why we were in Chinatown the moment the Hot and Sour soup touched our tongues.

We were drawn into this hole in the wall because it offered Cantonese and Szechuan dishes and there was a big sign out front – Special Dinner Set – Dinner Set for Two: $16.95. Now you can’t beat that. 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. The patrons are loud and Chinese. Our server speaks little English – only Chinese.

Our Dinner Set for Two consists of Hot and Sour Soup or Cream Corn Soup; a plate of combination BBQ Meat (choose two from Roasted Duck, Crispy Roasted Pork, BBQ Pork, Soya Chicken, BBQ Ribs and BBQ Chicken Wings); and a huge plate of braised mixed vegetables and tofu. We went ahead with our favorites, Hot and Sour Soup, Roasted Duck, Crispy Roasted Pork, the vegetable platter, some tea and two bowls of rice.

The Jasmine tea arrival first and we immediately checked to see if there was a bag inside. It is one of my biggest pet peeves when there is a tea bag in my Jasmine teapot. There was not and the tea was steeped to the perfect strength for drinking in the simple porcelain teacups.

The Hot and Sour Soup arrived in a large serving bowl; our server poured soup into each of our individual bowls in a typical Chinese serving fashion and left the rest in between us for seconds and even thirds. The hot and sour soup was not overly spiced; it was thick and gooey as I enjoy it, with everything imaginable inside. We tasted shrimp, pork, Chinese mushrooms, tofu, bamboo, and green onions and although it had a kick, it was not so painfully hot that your nose started running!  I watched the young man at the takeout counter slice our duck and pork with a huge cleaver and arrange it in a curve around either side of the serving platter.

Following the second small bowl of hot and sour soup, the vegetable platter and BBQ meat platter arrived. The vegetable plate was a perfect size for two people, it had tofu, water chestnuts, broccoli, Chinese mushrooms, Chinese cabbage and bamboo to name a few. All of the vegetables were cooked perfectly, with a slight crunch and mild oyster sauce flavor.

The BBQ duck was the absolutely remarkable. It melted upon impact with your tongue and released a sweet and delicate flavor before disappearing quickly. We immediately looked at one another to count the pieces of duck available and evenly portioned out the goodies. The BBQ pork had a crisp crust of similar flavor to the duck and was equally as moist. Pork is always a gamble at Chinese restaurants because sometimes they cook it till it shrivels into nothing but this pork was tender and sweet.

Upon finishing every last morsel on either plate, my boyfriend looked down and realized he had completely forgotten about his rice. My rice was half eaten. Was it possible there was too much food at $16.95 for two people in downtown Toronto?

Our bill came with a sliced orange and two fortune cookies. 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.

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