More photos. Fewer adjectives.

A Poised Crown Princess

Har Gow and Chrysanthemum jellyNewly opened, Crown Princess seems to be well-poised to receive dim-sum-hungry patrons in the area, especially with the closing of long-time fixture Dynasty (rumours of relocation ongoing). We order staples and a couple of things that aren’t the usual suspects and run the dim-sum gauntlet on a lazy afternoon.

If you’ve visited the sister (brother?) restaurant, Crown Prince up in Richmond Hill North York, then you’ll have an idea what to expect, visually, when you step through the doors (both of them). Yes, the trend of over-decorating from the Casa and Crown groups up North of the city has made its inaugural stamp downtown. With marble everywhere and crystal dripping from both chandelier and wall, some might deem it opulent. I find it all a bit… overwrought.

Click on the photo for a larger version

But! There’s food to be had, and in a grungy or a gorgeous atmosphere, it all comes down to “was it good?” in the end…

Hadn’t been expecting anything from this dish, but really, the har gow was probably the best I’ve had in recent memory. While not particularly punchy on the flavour, I was really impressed by the texture of the skin. And to me, har gow is all about the skin. Hope that they maintain the quality of this item, as I would return to eat good har gow alone.

Like the har gow, char siu bao tends to be a staple order. In general, I don’t particularly like these steamed buns, but somehow, they always show up on the table. Often, they’re dry or bland, so I was surprised at how good these were. The bun was moist and slightly sweet; the pork filling was both rich and generous. Good stuff.

The milk tart and/or egg tart is always on the top of my list, but it was the chrysanthemum jelly with lychee that won my sweet tooth that day. While I prefer this dessert with the crunch of water chestnut, I didn’t particularly miss it as I enjoyed the firmness of the jelly with the floral notes of chrysanthemum.

We also had a few other dishes we thought were okay, but not re-orders: tripe with xo sauce, rice roll with shrimp and vegetable, sticky rice in lotus leaf, corn and pumpkin congee, and the aforementioned milk tart (with the tiiiniest speck of bird’s nest). Notably missing from the line-up was sui mai… simply because it wasn’t really sui mai with the goose liver and caviar. Would have preferred to have had a more traditional presentation of that dish.

I have a couple of peeves at dim sum. In particular, gargantuan dumplings, and teapots that don’t pour. Both of which Crown Princess seemed to have side-stepped nicely. Updated 2010.12.29: They currently have a happy hour where all the non-special dishes are $3.10 before 11am, but please check, as I didn’t even try to make it in time. While we don’t eat dim sum very often, it’s nice to have a solid place to go nearby.

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  • Crown Princess 1033 Bay Street, Toronto
  • Menu (on flickr)

More at Crown Princess

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11 Responses to “A Poised Crown Princess”

  1. T. Long

    Thanks for the review….nice pics. I enjoyed their early bird dim sum yesterday (Monday). Their associate restaurant, the Crown Prince is located in North York on Victoria Park, north of McNicholl.

  2. Jen

    Hmn. I guess that still is in North York! Used to be the old New World. Thanks for the correction T. Long.

  3. Eric

    How did you find the rice roll? We went a month or so ago, and it was so thick it was chewy. Nothing else really stood out for me, especially at their inflated prices.

  4. Jen

    Eric > We didn’t like the taste combo of our rice roll more than the texture, but I also thought the texture of the roll was so-so. Would try a different one next time just to see. I think it’s a decent place, but not a destination place to go for dim sum. And yes, it is really expensive, though I don’t think it’s any more expensive than Crown Prince or Casa Imperial (though I liked Imperial and did not like Prince).

  5. Ryan Chan

    When I go for dim sum, I usually just go to the cheapest place in scarborough. I find dim sum to taste the same almost everywhere. However, this place looks quite unique. Some dishes I’ve never seen before. I might go with Mary this weekend!

  6. Jen

    Ryan > I dunno if it’ll meet your expectations. Plus, you might as well get free parking up North. It’s a good down-town joint though. The har gow was really yummy. Save me a piece if you go. I’ll run over and eat it.

    Also, Dynasty’s re-opened! And I hear there’s no more happy-hour…

  7. Yum Yum

    We stopped by today for a late dim sum (Crown Princess serves dim sum until 4 p.m. on Saturdays). The place is definitely over-the-top: Every inch of wall space is covered in marble, and more marble. I second the har gow description: the skin is firm, and stays intact between your chop sticks. (Though I still prefer the Pearl’s har gow.) The “Zen” vegetarian dumpling is definitely worth an order … or two! The only unpleasant surprise was the price of the baby bok choy. It wasn’t on the menu, so we asked for it. And, get ready for it … it was $18 on our bill!?


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