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Dim Sum at Rol San in Toronto

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

Rol San in Toronto Canada

Important Update
Many restaurants have revised their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Some may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check this restaurant’s website for updated information before your visit.

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 peameal 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 Amsterdam, London, Cape Town, Hong Kong, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The dim sum in Toronto holds its own in comparison.

What is Dim Sum?

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
Rol San in Chinatown, Toronto, Canada

Rol San’s decor is basic, to say the least. Tablecloths 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.

Rol San Menu in Toronto Canada
Rol San 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) at Rol San in Toronto Canada
Pork Dumplings (Shiu Mai)
Chili Oil at Rol San in Toronto Canada
Chili Oil

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

Deep Fried Squid at Rol San in Toronto Canada
Deep Fried Squid in Spicy Salt

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

Shrimp Rice Rolls Rol at Rol San in Toronto Canada
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.

Pan Fried Pancakes at Rol San in Toronto Canada
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 at Rol San in Toronto Canada
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’s fair to say that our lunch was a solid meal and a good value right in the middle of Toronto.

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

Hungry for More?
Check out the iconic Montreal restaurants that you cannot miss.

About the Authors
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Sumit Surai

Saturday 22nd of November 2014

Great photos. I love the food from the Chinatown in my city - Calcutta. But the sad part is most Chinese people from here are moving to Toronto and also taking with them the variation of Chinese food which originated here, the Indian Chinese.

ルイヴィトン時計

Saturday 23rd of November 2013

glamorscene

Ken Barkey

Tuesday 11th of June 2013

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?

Daryl and Mindi Hirsch

Monday 17th of June 2013

We often see chili oil at Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia. It adds a real kick to many dishes and soups.