YU-SHAN DUMPLING CUISINE (771 Dundas West, at Markham, 416-869-0606) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and an import beer. Average main $7. Open daily 11 am to 11 pm. Licensed. Access: barrier free. Rating: NNNN
The side door grill fought a long battle to stay in business on the corner of Dundas and Markham. It even resorted to a reality TV rescue attempt, but now the Door is closed forever. You can visit its grave in the Restaurant Makeover rerun cemetery.
I'm betting the same fate will not befall the Tiao family, who opened Yu-Shan Dumpling Cuisine two months ago. The restaurant is situated both physically and spiritually between Chinatown and the ever hippening Ossingtown section of Dundas West, and both communities appear to be pleased with its arrival.
The menu starts with surprise dumplings. Made by Eric Tiao and his mother, Jenny, these are beautiful, pillowy-chewy envelopes filled with simple, delectable combinations.
If you need a fast, contentment-inducing lunch, you can't do better than the steamed pork and chive or steamed beef dumplings (both 12 for $4.50). Just add a little red vinegar, soy and chili garlic sauce to the tender parcels containing finely ground meat delicately flavoured with chives or scallions and you are out of the dumps and into the dumplings.
The larger fried vegetarian dumplings (eight for $5.99) also satisfy with finely chopped tofu, scallion and black fungus.
Once you've done the dumplings, the rest of the sensibly short menu still has some highlights. The pan-fried onion cake appetizer ($2.45) is like a long, flat spiralled dumpling fried to perfect golden-browndom.
The sautéed green beans ($6.25) have great texture and seasoning. The spicy salted cuttlefish ($7.95) lives up to its name with a lively application of chilies to a big mound of perfectly cooked squid-like pieces. Other standards like Taiwan-style fried vermicelli ($6.45) and General Tao chicken ($7.95) suffer by comparison but are still good and, like everything else at Yu-Shan, priced Chinatown low.
Service is conscientious and friendly. And there's even a small patio, a feature that very few downtown Chinese restaurants can lay claim to.