No survey of Chinese dining in Toronto would be complete without mentioning a few of the faves that top similar polls in lesser publications. You might imagine that the long lineup clamouring for tables at pricey Lee Garden (331 Spadina, at Baldwin, 416-593-9524, rating: NN ) - especially on Sunday night, when le tout north Toronto descends on the joint - indicates that there's more on offer here than sanitized Cantonese clichés. Speaking of which, Lichee Garden has left its swank downtown digs at Dundas and University and hightailed it to the burbs, where its retro chinoiserie (maraschino cherries with duck, anyone?) will no doubt be better received (1416 Centre, at Dufferin, 905-709-2111, rating: N ).
When Reform potentate Preston Manning and officially regal Adrienne Clarkson are in town and get the itch for Chinese - separate cheques, of course - they head for King's Garden (214 King West, at Simcoe, 416-585-2221, rating: NN ) and its beige Beijing Holiday Inn decor and $25 fried rice. King's slightly downmarket cousin Golden Leaf (307 Spadina, at Dundas West, 416-597-1000, rating: NN ) offers much the same and cheaper chow mein. Steam tables are the antithesis of à la minute Chinese cooking, but that doesn't stop popular Mandarin (2200 Yonge, at Eglinton, 416-486-2222, and others, rating: N ) from serving most of its all-you-can-eat buffet on them. If you must, go Atkins and stick to the carved-to-order prime rib and the salad bar - hold the dressing.