Rol San dim sum in toronto chinatown

Rol San – Dim Sum Lunch in Toronto’s Chinatown

In Restaurants, Toronto by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch4 Comments

Rol San is a great spot to enjoy authentic dim sum in Toronto. This reasonable restaurant is located in Toronto’s thriving Chinatown neighborhood.

Rol San is a great spot to enjoy authentic dim sum in Toronto.

Rol San dim sum in toronto chinatown

Toronto locals are fiercely proud of their city and food culture.

As tourists, we heard  that pride on the street, on elevators, in restaurants and in hotel lobbies.

‘We’re a foodie city,’ Torontonians repeated with a sense of genuine pride. That effusive, almost haughty, praise grew infectious with repetition.

Now, don’t get us wrong. Toronto is a good food city featuring a fair amount of ethnic restaurants and, much like the rest of the world, a growing and thriving restaurant culture.  But a ‘foodie city?’ (And just what is a foodie city? Is it a city that features good food or is a foodie city one of the best food cities in the world?) In many conversations, we heard bitterness about how Canadian food cities like Montreal and Vancouver overshadow Canada’s largest city. You will receive no disagreement from us in those conversations, as we would choose a serving of Montreal poutine over a Toronto pea-meal bacon sandwich.

That all being said, Toronto’s downtown does have a thriving Chinatown with some formidable dim sum. We’ve had dim sum in Hong Kong, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The dim sum in Toronto holds its own in comparison.

A typical dim sum meal involves freshly steamed and fried Cantonese food served on small plates and baskets. Each portion is usually a small taste bomb, proving that good things do indeed come in small packages.

Dim Sum in Toronto at Rol San

We checked out the dim sum at Rol San, which is located right on Spadina Avenue in the heart of Toronto’s main Chinatown neighborhood.  The dim sum was creative, delicious and somewhat surprising, offering slight variations on the traditional.

Rol San in Chinatown, Toronto, Canada dim sum in toronto

Rol San in Chinatown, Toronto, Canada

The decor is basic, to say the least. Table cloths are clear plastic sheets. There are no carts, a common dim sum feature. Instead, dishes are made to order and are served as they are prepared. While drinking hot tea (Mindi) and a coca-cola (Daryl), we perused the menu and made our selections.

Menu Selections for Table 5 Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Menu Selections for Table 5

First up was a basket of pork shiu mai. Each dumpling was topped with fish roe – a briny, popping counterpoint to the juicy, fatty pork. Not surprisingly, they tasted even better with some chili oil.

Pork Dumplings (Shiu Mai) Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Pork Dumplings (Shiu Mai)

Chili Oil Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Chili Oil

We diverged from the dim sum menu to order a cantonese classic – deep-fried squid in spicy salt.

Deep Fried Squid in Spicy Salt Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Deep Fried Squid in Spicy Salt

As we were eating the squid, out came the shrimp rice rolls. The slippery devils were worth the chop stick effort.

Shrimp Rice Rolls Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Shrimp Rice Rolls

We ordered the home-made pan-fried pancakes in honor of our nephew Max. (They’re his favorite.) It was a good choice. The pancakes were savory and perfectly prepared.

Home-Made Pan Fried Pancakes Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Home-Made Pan Fried Pancakes

Our last dish was the steamed pork and crab soup dumpling. We expected the Shanghainese classic xiao long boa like we get in New York and Philadelphia.  Instead, this version included one large dumpling in a bowl of soup.

Steamed Pork Meat and Crab Meat Soup Dumpling Rol San Toronto dim sum in toronto

Steamed Pork Meat and Crab Meat Soup Dumpling

Even with the big squid dish and the coca cola, the bill was about $30 for both of us. We ended the experience by sharing a fresh fruit cantaloupe bubble tea from the bakery next door, which upped the tab by a few bucks.

The literal translation of dim sum is to touch the heart.  We might not go that far about the food at Rol San, but it it’s fair to say that our lunch was a solid meal and a good value right in the middle of the city.

Rol San Restaurant is located at 323 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5T 2E9, Canada.


Comments

  1. Chili Oil seems like some kind of Cherry Suice with seeds to give a cruncy taste… but as you mention it is a Oil … I am amazed where we can use this?

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