Monday, April 30, 2007

Sichuan Garden Restaurant: Toronto

Toronto is known for its Chinese food. Spadina Street is the heart of Chinatown there. The boys, the lovely wife and I were all eager to partake, and we took a cab from the CN Tower (very tall) to Spadina on Saturday night. Originally, we planned on heading to Lee's Garden, favored by Zagat and the many tourbooks. Clearly, everyone else had this in mind, and there was a long line. Spurred on by cranky and hungry children, we walked down the block, and saw Sichuan Garden Restaurant (359 Spadina Street, Toronto: (416) 593-6265. After our last experience at a Sichuan Restaurant, I was ready to try another one. Sichuan Garden is a mildly pleasing looking restaurant, and it was mostly filled on a Saturday Night (besides Lee Garden, only one other restaurant that we saw had any line at all). I believe we were the only non-Chinese speakers in the place.

Sichuan cooking is based on the Chili pepper. Interestingly enough, the pepper is not native to China: it was introduced in the 16th Century by Portuguese traders. While first used as a decorative plant, by the late 1600's they became a part of dinner. This love of the pepper translates into the food at Sichuan garden: food that is full of it is quite tasty and food that is not is not quite OK. So although the boys had a great time, none of the dishes they ordered (beef with broccoli and chicken with cashews) were even passably good.

Having said that, the Sichuan food was great. The dan dan noodles were spicy yet quite flavorful. Tofu with a red chili sauce was some of the best bean curd I have eaten. And their shrimp special (on the house specials page) was also extremely well spiced. I did find it humorous that our waiter was worried about the fact that the head was still on the shrimp. The lovely wife and I had to tell him several times not to worry about this fact. Prices are reasonable (given that even the Canadian dollar is kicking the US dollars butt), and service quick and friendly. As opposed to Little Pepper in Flushing, there is no shortage of silverware here.

If you are in Toronto and want something a little different in the Chinese Food Department, and like spicy, then consider Sichuan Garden Restaurant. Its good.


Flickr Photos from Gretzky's, Sichuan Garden
Chowhound on Chinese Food in Toronto

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