TIGER LILY'S (257 Queen West, at Duncan, 416-977-5499) Complete meals for $25 per person ($15 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a $4 domestic beer. Average main: $11. Open Monday and Tuesday 11:30 am to 10 pm, Wednesday to Friday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday noon to 11 pm, Sunday noon to 9 pm. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
There's no question that Dinah Koo delivers quality, first at her eponymous Cupboard (50 Cumberland, at Bay, 416-921-8112) gourmet take-away, and since 1994 at her Queen West pan-Asian noodle house, where the atmosphere and service are far superior to most Chinatown kitchens. But prices are higher and portions less abundant. Wrapped in bean curd skin and then deep-fried, Tiger Lily's Home-Style Real Egg Roll ($3), stuffed with shredded carrot, cabbage, soy bean sprouts and wood ear, is a third the size of those going for 25 cents more at New Kee Hong (396 Spadina, at Nassau, 416-596-1576).
Shiitake spring rolls ($5.95 for three), though possibly the smallest in town, are definitely the only ones stuffed with delish meaty 'shrooms and sided with chi-chi chive-freckled mayo.
Layered with five slices of boneless breast, carrot threads, crunchy bean sprouts and a squirt of hoisin, Peking Duck Quesadillas ($4.95) may be menu-listed as plural but in fact is a single 6-inch grilled flour tortilla folded in two and cut in half. Though just as tasty, a side consisting of a single cake of sesame-encrusted tofu goes for a shocking $4.25.
Main-sized warm chicken salad ($8.95) finds a mess o' mesclun, bitter greens and cherry tomato dressed with a mild sesame-oil vinaigrette and garnished with deep-fried wonton croutons.
Cinnamon-dusted nuts add a bit of interest to the otherwise standard Spiced Walnut Stir-fry with Chicken ($11.95), while Spicy Eggplant Lo Mein ($9.95) gets the same muted firepower as Koo's vegetarian pad thai ($10.50). Ketchup, perhaps?