Location: 550 Highway 7, Richmond Hill
Sometimes, Asian desserts can be a bit of an acquired taste. With their emphasis on ingredients you don’t necessarily associate with sweets (like beans or tofu), unusual spices, and a very restrained level of sweetness, they can seem a bit odd if you’re not used to them.
If you are used to them, however? They’re delicious.
Sweet Turtle Desserts in the Times Square plaza in Richmond Hill is an absolute cornucopia of various Chinese puddings and sweet drinks (there are easily over a hundred items on the menu). I ordered the soya bean jelly with sesame, which is a creamy tofu-based pudding topped with a black sesame sauce.
The tofu itself is completely unsweetened, with a luxuriously silky texture but very little flavour. It doesn’t seem like much, but that silkiness is surprisingly addictive.
The black sesame topping suits it very well, with a nice hit of sesame and just enough sweetness to keep things interesting. It’s quite good.
Location: 1285 Elgin Mills Road East, Richmond Hill
Is key lime pie the king of pies? It might be! The contrast between the tart filling, the sweet graham cracker crust, and the creamy topping is absolutely magical when done well. I have a hard time saying no when I see it on a menu.
And La Rocca Creative Kitchen — which serves the type of little pastries that look so nice it’s almost a shame to eat them — makes a really good one.
It’s a little bit untraditional. The typical whipped cream topping is subbed out for creamy Italian meringue, and the crust is made from speculoos cookies instead of graham cracker.
It’s great. Sometimes a key lime pie’s crust can be too substantial or dry, but this had the perfect level of crunch without getting in the way, and the flavour of the speculoos set it apart from the norm.
The dense, creamy Italian meringue might even be better than whipped cream. Certainly, it does a perfect job of balancing out the tart key lime custard.
And the custard was just right — it’s sweet and creamy, with just the right amount of tartness. It’s good stuff.
Location: 505 Highway 7, Thornhill
There are a couple of things that make Dagu Rice Noodle stand out from the typical bowl of Chinese noodle soup that you’ll find in the city.
The first is right there in the name: they use rice noodles, which are quite different than the standard noodles made with regular flour. They’re a bit softer, with a slightly gummy, chewy texture. I think standard noodles are a bit more satisfying, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with what they’re serving here.
The other thing that sets it apart? It comes in a Korean-style super-hot stone bowl; it’s a bubbling inferno. Honestly, this kind of baffles me. I’ll admit that I generally don’t like my food to be piping hot (if it’s so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, then it’s too hot. No thanks), so I guess I’m not the target audience here. But I just don’t understand what the benefit is to serving any food so hot you can’t safely eat it.
I suppose I should mention what the soup actually was. I ordered their signature noodle soup, which comes with braised pork, various sausagey meats, as well as a bunch of vegetables.
The super tender pork was probably the highlight. It was very similar to what you’ll find in a bowl of Korean pork bone soup, and it was full of meaty fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Everything else was fine. The broth was kinda one-note salty, but was immeasurably improved with the chili oil they’ve got on the table. The whole thing was enjoyable enough, but it’s probably not something I’d get again.
Location: 9665 Bayview Avenue, Richmond Hill
I really like dim sum. It’s like brunch, but way more interesting. There are only so many times you can have eggs benedict or pancakes before they start to bore you. When that happens, the cavalcade of dumplings, buns, and other tasty bites at a dim sum joint are just what the doctor ordered.
And Yang’s Fine Chinese Cuisine in Richmond Hill (not to be confused with Yang’s Chinese Cuisine in Markham) is quite good.
I mean, look at all that stuff. If you can tell me you don’t want to eat all of that right now, then you and me are two very different people.
These little balls of shrimp surrounded by crunchy almond slivers might have been my favourite dish of the day. The shrimp had a really great texture, and the crispiness and nuttiness of the exterior complimented it perfectly.
And these pork buns? Chicken and waffles wish they could nail the sweet/salty combo as well as these little guys.
Location: 9425 Leslie Street, Richmond Hill
If you’re going to put the word excellent in the name of your restaurant, you’d better be able to back that up. Even if you’re serving pretty good food, that’s not excellent, is it?
Well, Excellent BBQ Restaurant in the Richlane Mall in Richmond Hill definitely lives up to its name: it is indeed excellent.
There’s something really satisfying about the simplicity of Chinese-style BBQ like this. It’s beyond simple — it’s basically just whole pieces of meat and rice — but when it’s done well, it’s delicious and comforting in a way that few dishes can match.
Excellent BBQ Restaurant does it quite well, which is evident as soon as you get there: when I visited, there was a line going out the door, and it remained that way for the whole time I was there.
When you’re serving food this good, word gets around.
We tried a few different things. BBQ duck.
And roast pork.
Everything was really good. In particular, the duck was fatty, tender, and perfect. The skin could have been a bit crispier, but that’s a fairly minor complaint.
Both types of pork were just as good — there wasn’t a whole lot of crispy skin on the roast pork, but what was there was shatteringly crisp and amazing. The BBQ pork was slightly dry, but again: that’s a minor complaint.