Thursday, January 15, 2009

Carts No More!

I've always had mixed feelings about ordering dim sum from those little carts they wheel around. Usually I'm there for a reason: I have an insatiable craving for steamed shrimp dumplings and nothing else will do. If I'm lucky, the cart with all the steamed items comes rolling by just when I sit down. But most of the time, it's total frustration as carts pass by with every possible alternative.

Well, there's no reason to wait for those carts anymore...

Cha Liu's intimate space overlooks bustling Yonge Street near the corner of Eglinton. It would have been easy to walk right by the place, but the byline "dim sum shop" caught our attention just as we started musing over take-out places for dinner that night. Cha Liu's menu has over 20 steamed and 18 fried and pan seared items. Twenty minutes later, we were out the door with two orders of steamed shrimp dumplings (4 pieces per order at $4.50), one order of steamed shrimp, scallop and asparagus dumplings (3 pieces at $4.50) and one order of beef sui mai (4 pieces at $3.50). We weren't sure how well they'd survive the trip home so we decided not to go overboard in ordering. Turns out they travel very well! But to be honest, I prefer a table by the window during lunch time.

Dynasty's large bustling dining room overlooks Bloor Street between Bay Street and Avenue Road. When you sit down, all of the options are laid out in front of you: a regular menu with several pages of entrees, and a dim sum menu with check-boxes beside nearly 75 choices of varying sizes (S, M, L, XL and XXL), and a pen. The first item listed? Steamed shrimp dumplings. Hmmm... this is looking very promising indeed!

We took the menu by storm and nearly every dish impressed. Besides three orders of you know what, we sampled steamed seafood dumplings with chive, pan fried beef buns, crispy shrimp rolls, steamed BBQ pork buns, deep fried octopus fingers, baby bok choy in supreme broth and a few others I can't remember. I usually frown at Chinese desserts (if it doesn't have chocolate, what's the point?) but the steamed sweet egg yolk buns were a sweet way to end the meal and helped ease the sting of the bill ($35 per person on our first trip; $20 per person on our second).

Both places are dangerous if you have frequent cravings for dim sum...easy to get to, open all day and consistently good! Oh, and at dinner, Dynasty delivers...

Cha Liu Dim Sum Shop
2352 Yonge Street, 2nd Floor

Dynasty Chinese Cuisine
131 Bloor St W, 2nd Floor

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