Hidden treasure: A photographic tour through some of Toronto’s best dim sum

Hidden treasure: A photographic tour through some of Toronto’s best dim sum

In the beginning: Our plate at Grand Chinese Cuisine waits to be filled (All photos by Renée Suen) 

One of Toronto’s best dim sum experiences occurs in the strangest of venues: the Doubletree Hilton hotel near Pearson airport. Grand Chinese Cuisine is as glamorous as its name suggests. Heavy table linens add a muted, luxurious ambience to the dining room—a circular enclave with walnut blinds that block out the lobby so effectively that it is hard to believe we are dining in a hotel (or in Etobicoke, for that matter). Most foodies are familiar with the traditional forms of dim sum, but nouveau styles, like the dishes here, have taken connoisseurs by storm. We find ourselves sampling flavourful treats that are as appealing to the eye as they are to our appetites—all with a mid-range price tag. Our photographic tour of a legendary dim sum meal, after the jump.

In addition to the staple shrimp and scallop dumplings (both good), we order the steamed chicken and shiitake mushroom version. Each thick-skinned purse is christened with flying fish roe, lending briny depth to a subtle filling. 
Unlike the greasy golf ball renderings that get pushed around on most dim sum carts, the siu mai (pork and mushroom dumpling) at Grand Chinese Cuisine come piping hot and straight from the kitchen steamer. The textural contrast of the diced pork and the sweet shrimp is furthered by its sweet cap of scallop and roe. 
These steamed rice rolls come filled with the firm flesh of grouper and tender pea shoots. DIY saucing allows us to control how much of its clean flavour to drown out with soy dressing (not much). 
These thousand-layer cod pastries are an excellent balance of fat and flour. Though the well-seasoned filling is moist and the concentric sheets flake away easily, the balls keep their structural integrity from plate to mouth. 
Rumour has it that these sweetened fluffy buns make the chefs at Atelier Thuet swoon. The contents include aromatic kobacha pumpkin, black beans, garlic and minced pork, but the textures are the true accomplishment here. We can’t decide if it’s the seared tops or the cotton candy–like pork floss that has us coming back for more. 
Tongues should wag over Grand’s version of this classic Chinese dish–duck tongues, served here in a “crystal” consommé pudding with goji miracle berries (a.k.a. wolfberries), seaweed salad and marinated jellyfish. Don’t be fooled by the offal muscle’s appearance; its slightly bouncy texture is like supple fat. The fowl origin is revealed by name alone. 
Steamed buns are common dim sum, but this custard and egg yolk version is a rare find. Reminiscent of a warm Cadbury cream egg (without the chocolate), the bun has a thin skin that shields a molten yolk core that is grainy, sweet and salty. Not to be missed. 
To finish the meal, we order the pan-fried rice dumplings. A bit chewy—but lovely when savoured with tea—their toasted sesame seed crust juxtaposes a chewy wrapping and a heart of tannic green tea paste. 

Grand Chinese Cuisine, 655 Dixon Rd., 416-248-9898, grandchinesecuisine.com.