I was seriously craving dim sum at a place that was just as delicious as the lunch we had in Melaka. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the right place in downtown Toronto that creates something absolutely drool worthy, something I would day dream about in class as the minute hand slowly ticked closer to lunchtime. That is, until two years ago when my family and I stumbled upon a gem- or rather an Emerald of a dim sum joint in Mississauga, Ontario.
About twenty minutes west from Toronto is Emerald Chinese Restaurant, or as I like to refer to it- the mecca of all things dim sum in the Greater Toronto Area, a place where I would put just one notch below our dim sum experience in Melaka, but only because that was as close to authentic as I’m going to get. Here at Emerald, you’ll find the traditional cart service where you can look at everything before you order- point, holler or flap hands at the waiters to get their attention that this particular treat was exactly what you wanted while you’re surrounded by the most hustle and bustle you’ll ever see west of Asia. A little warning: this place is packed, and you usually have to wait in a long line…this is an understatement- the line can go as far as where you parked your car if you come at the wrong time. Then sometimes you come at the wrong time and you feel like you’re not part of the group experience which makes this place so magical: families happily chatting, sometimes yelling because it get loud, as you wait in line you can learn chopstick skills and how fast some people use them to scoop up the last har gao, all the while you have to keep your ears peels to hear the little ladies shriek out the name each dish in Cantonese, because sometimes if you aren’t quick they speed right past you. Or- if you stare too long, they’ll assume you want that weird looking green goopy stuff even though you’re staring because you have no clue what it is. Pricing is average; it all depends on the size of each dish but a lunch for three people with all the dishes mentioned below was a mere $40 including tax and tip. Not too shabby, unfortunately not as cheap as Melaka, but what can you do? YOU EAT!
In my experience at Emerald, the food is always fresh, and served piping hot no matter side of the restaurant you’re on. The best part is if the dish you want doesn’t come around, you can just politely ask the head waiter (not the cart lady) what you would like and they’ll bring it to you without question.
Emerald is not for the faint of heart, or for those who are worried about breaking out. My one grievance (and it’s minor because I’m willing to overlook it because this place is just so damn good) is that it tends to go overboard with the oil.
Pork fried dumpling– bursting with flavour but a little tooo oily on the exterior. If you can try and dab some off before you go in for the first bite- trust me, your acne-free face will thank you later in the week.
Panko-coated deep fried tofu and sticky rice- the sticky rice comes in two smaller pouches so it’s easier to share amongst a table.
Steamed shrimp dumplings har gao and scallop and pork scallion dumplings (also highly recommend the pork dumplings with peanuts)
Fried (see a trend?) crab claw- included with necessary red sour sauce
Necessary requirement for all dim sum meals: noodles! We opted for our usual Singapore Chow Mein. Some places downtown don’t tend to serve this dish up with any sort of heat- lack of spice just kills the essence of this chow mein and fortunately Emerald chefs are not afraid to toss in alot of chili heat in their Singapore Chow Mein.
And last but not least, the piece du resistance- the bbq pork bun. A complete treasure, if crafted with precision, love and tenderness you will have a light, airy bun that is juxtaposed with the savory, saucy barbecue pork filling. Emerald, you’re more like a diamond in the rough, amidst the boulevard streets of the suburbs lost within the towering skyscrapers and ignored by passer-bys. Well I’m in the know and so are you. Never change and keep making your extraordinary dim sum delicacies.
I’ll be back, unfortunately minus one special person who made my life, but with one memory that I’ll never forget.
Emerald Chinese Restaurant is located 30 W Eglinton Ave Mississauga, ON L5R 3E7. You can contact them for reservations (which is highly recommended if you go on the weekend) at (905) 890-9338