If you can't stomach eggs Benny or French toast, here are NOW's suggestions for the best dim sum in town.
Bright Pearl 346-48 Spadina, at St. Andrew, 416-979-3988.
This cavernous second-storey banquet hall in one of the most garish buildings on the avenue offers old school dim sum served from carts pushed by mute staff in green aprons. Point and its yours. Bonus: deep discounts after 1:30 pm week days. Warning: come early or reserve unless you want to stand in what seems like an endless queue. Best: feather-light steamed shrimp siu mai and wonton-wrapped minced pork topped with fish roe; plump pan-fried pork dumplings with sweet dipping sauce; crisply pan-fried squares of smooth daikon and taro cake; steamed rice noodle stuffed with shrimp; steamed snow pea shoot; steamed beef short ribs in starchy black bean gravy; bundles of sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf.
Complete dim sum meals for $18 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pot of green tea. Average main $3. Open for daily dim sum 9 am to 4 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
Dragon Dynasty 2301 Brimley, at Huntingwood, 416-321-9000.
Located in a suburban Scarborough mall, Dragon Dynasty is an upwardly mobile Cantonese eatery - just check out all the late-model Mercedes, Lexii and Range Rovers in the parking lot. Dim sum is served daily until mid-afternoon, when the pricey seafood-heavy Cantonese menu takes over. Warning: the large room becomes almost as crowded as the nearby zoo by noon, so come early or fashionably late. Best: banana leaves stuffed with tender chunks of chicken and pork mixed with sticky rice; translucent made-to-order har gow shrimp and pea-stalk dumplings; golden tapioca with bean paste; fried rice noodle with kale and preserved olive leaf.
Complete dim sum meals for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Tsingtao beer. Average main $4. Open for daily dim sum 9 am to 4 pm. Reservatons not accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNN
Lai Wah Heen 118 Chestnut, at Dundas West, 416-977-9899.
Considered one of Toronto's top Chinese restaurants since the day it opened 10 years ago, this luxe hotel eatery is certainly one of the most lavish, all blond wood, beige walls, deep carpets, formally attired servers and not a plastic tablecloth in sight. Chef Terence Chan's pricey Hong Kong card can be equally over the top, a far cry from his low-rent Chinatown competition. Best: dumplings of marinated alligator loin with shrimp, bamboo shoot and garlic; Steamed Mousse Ball, a diaphanous shrimp dumpling in oyster-infused broth garnished with shredded shark's fin; Crystal Butterfly Dumplings, a delicate duo stuffed with buttery chopped scallop and shrimp, garnished with parsley stalk antennae; to finish, three tiny puff pastry tarts filled with creamy custard and dusted with subtle swallow's nest.
Complete dim sum meals for $45 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pot of green tea. Average main $6. Open for dim sum Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 3 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11 am to 3 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNNNN
Rol San 323 Spadina, at St. Andrew, 416-977-1128.
Retro Cantonese cuisine in a pleasant space a notch above the usual for the nabe. But don't get stuck in the front room with the tourists and first-timers. Past an open kitchen, a second more spacious room reminiscent of an 80s Hong Kong disco handles the overflow for all-day dim sum. Gruff, indifferent service. Best: pan-fried turnip or scallion pancakes; deep fried battered shrimp with Miracle Whip (really!); multi-textured soup dumplings stuffed with shrimp and mushroom in briny broth; beancurd skin wrapped around minced pork in oyster sauce; sticky rice in lotus leaf; shrimp har gow; deep-fried shrimp with chive cake; beef short ribs in black bean sauce.
Complete dim sum meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Tsingtao. Average main $3. Open for daily dim sum 9:30 am to 4 pm. Reservations not accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
Ruby 1571 Sandhurst Circle, at Finch E, 416-298-1638.
One of Scarborough's famed cavernous Cantonese cafeterias, this upmarket banquet hall in an upscale suburban mall serves daily dim sum brunch. Trolleys trawl the aisles stacked with steamers full of pork shiu mei and shrimp har gow dumplings stuffed with the familiar and the unknown but usually delicious. Friendly, helpful servers assist the uninitiated: what may appear to be mandarin oranges with cashews is actually pig's intestines! Best: explosive potstickers overstuffed with pork and Chinese greens, dipped in hot mustard; tempura-battered eggplant wrapped around ground fish, coupled with a tartaresque mayo studded with white grapes and fresh pineapple chunks; oversized wontons in chicken stock swimming with pork, shrimp and black mushrooms; deep-fried tofu stuffed with whole shrimp and splashed with black bean sauce; to quell the fire, warmingly neutral hot tapioca pudding to finish. Complete dim sum meals for $30 per person, including all taxes, tip and a Tsingtao. Average main $4. Open for daily dim sum 9 am 5 pm. Reservations not accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN