LUCAS PETERSON writes the “Frugal Traveler” column for the New York Times. This past Sunday, in a search for excellent Chinese food he ventured well beyond TORONTO’s city limits – without a car.
“I sprinted across a highway and traversed a seemingly endless mall parking lot. There were now large swaths where the sidewalk completely disappeared; construction was constant, and new buildings appeared to be popping up everywhere.”
The goal – to find extraordinarily good Chinese food along Highway 7, “an unscenic but pulsing artery of high quality, delicious and inexpensive regional Chinese cuisine.”
First stop – Ding Tai Fung in the strip mall First Markham Place for an order of soup dumplings. The dried scallop and pork version “served with a red-tinged vinegar and slivers of ginger, were small explosions of flavour.”
Second stop – Peaktop restaurant for a half duck that was “covered in crispy skin, glistening and deep brown.”
Third stop – Pacific Mall, a huge structure housing hundreds of businesses, including an excellent food court. At Sun’s Kitchen – beef noodle soup “with thick, chewy noodles and chunks of tender meat had a pleasantly savoury broth that tasted of star anise” and dandan noodle soup “a riff on the traditional fiery Sichuan dish”.
<PHOTO – noodles being hand-pulled at Sun’s Kitchen – Ian Williams for the New York Times>
Also in Pacific Mall – Fortune Star for spicy grilled squid & Hong-Kong milk tea. At the Frederick restaurant in the nearby New Delhi Plaza a mash-up of Indian and Chinese cuisine. Woofles and Cream in Markham’s New Kennedy Square for Hong Kong-style egg waffles. Northern Dumpling Kitchen, or NDK, is known for cheap and high-quality northern fare.
<PHOTO – Frederick restaurant in Markham – Ian Williams for the New York Times>
The Frugal Traveler capped off his day of eating “with a visit to the outstanding Lucullus Bakery in Richmond Hill. “My companions and I enjoyed a Chinese smorgasbord, if you will, of fresh baked goods: a coconut bearclaw and a buttery and crunchy pineapple bun ($1.35 each), chestnut bao with chestnut purée ($2), and an almost comically bright yellow egg tart ($1.35).”