To be honest, our expectations weren’t super high when we visited Rosewood Asian Cuisine in Toronto’s Chinatown district. A place that offers AYCE sushi and dim sum side by side doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the authenticity of the food. But both of us were craving Cantonese brunch, and Rosewood is one of the more popular spots for dim sum in downtown Toronto.
Arriving at a bit past noon, the restaurant was already packed, with several groups in line ahead of us. Luckily, our wait was short; since we were only two people, we were able to bypass the larger groups to be seated at a small table in less than ten minutes. (Note: you have to put your name down with the host to secure a spot in line.)
We opted for Rosewood’s à la carte dim sum rather than all-you-can-eat, which turned out to be the right choice. The AYCE option costs $29.99 per person, and meanwhile our meal cost the two of us just $55 altogether, after tax and tips. We were both stuffed, and had a box of leftovers to take home! In our case, ordering à la carte is by far the more economical option.
So if you come here, what should you order?
First of all, Rosewood makes the decision easier for you (or maybe harder) by providing pictures of all the dishes on their menu. This is especially helpful if you aren’t very proficient with dim sum names, since it’s pretty hard to translate some of these descriptions into English.
Har Gow (Shrimp Dumplings)
Of course, no dim sum meal is complete without an order of shrimp dumplings, and Rosewood measures up. The dumpling wrappers were a little too sticky and soft, with not enough chew, but the filling was great. Each dumpling has a lot of shrimp packed in. Don’t you hate when you bite into a dumpling and it’s almost all dough with barely any filling? The har gow here is the opposite of that! Definitely worth getting in my opinion.
Phoenix Claws (Stewed Chicken Feet)
Feng zhua is another classic dim sum dish, and again Rosewood doesn’t disappoint here. I didn’t taste, but Kevin happily ate the whole basket and commented that he would order it again.
Chinese Fried Doughnuts (Youtiao)
The long doughnuts here are a good size, deliciously fragrant and fried to golden perfection, with a nice chew.
These custard buns are pretty yummy. You get some filling in each bite, and it’s creamy and just the right consistency. The only thing I feel is lacking slightly is the flavour.
Sesame Seed Lotus Paste Balls
I’m used to these fried sesame seed balls containing red bean or mung bean paste, so lotus seed was an interesting twist. The filling was adequate, but the mochi rice wrapper was a bit too thick for me.
Things I wouldn’t order again
Fried Dough Rice Rolls
It was a mistake to get both the youtiao and these rice rolls, which are the same thing but draped in thick sheets of rice noodles. Too much fried doughnut for one meal! I thought they were okay, but according to Kevin, they are thicker than normal and that’s not a good thing.
Steamed Vegetarian Beancurd
Although more than edible, I was underwhelmed by the lack of flavour of these beancurd pockets, which are stuffed with a variety of shredded stir-fry veggies like carrot and cabbage. They were a touch under-salted and under-seasoned, and could have been improved by an accompanying sauce.
Lotus Paste Tapioca Cups
I’ve never seen these things on a dim sum menu before, so I was happy for the chance to try something new. They aren’t my thing, though. The top layer of each shallow tart is translucent and feels like a chewy tapioca pudding, with no real distinguishable taste other than sweetness. A thin layer of lotus paste lines the bottom. I like lotus paste in moon cakes, but overall I don’t think the flavours worked together in this dish.
Dim sum for two at just $55 all-inclusive is a steal in Toronto, and the food is very tasty. We were so stuffed that I ended up packing three of the tapioca cups and most of the vegetarian beancurd dish to go, which provided another meal for me the next day. Definitely plan on coming back!
Not sure if the food quality would be the same for AYCE, but unless you have a huge appetite, you’re better off sticking with à la carte anyway. The Rosewood dim sum selection is huge, and there’s something for everyone. If you can, come with a large group so you can order and try more items!
Hungry for more dim sum? Check out my review of Dim Sum King for another Toronto recommendation.