Jan 11: Ding Tai Fung ★★★★
Boisterous dumpling poppers meet teeming far-east restaurants on “Highway 7,” an unapologetic hub of Cantonese (and now, increasingly Mandarin) culture. Threaded together by a line of white BMW’s and Honda civics on a perennially clogged street are the best “bubble”-tea shop and Shanghai pork buns in the world. Both are transcribed wholesale from Chinese equivalents. The Ding Tai Fung in First Markham Place has a Toronto Life sticker glued to the front, an endorsement unparalleled in such foreign lands. It is well earned. The restaurant betters its Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland equivalents on the freshness of the pork, an unequivocal advantage of Canadian fare. The sumptuous, razor thin dough protects a plump globule of pork patty, simmered in a pool of melted fat. It is a fine indulgence. And prepared to be culture-shocked with Chinese menus, homemade lemon ice-tea and ring-tones set to Korean love ballads (“Nobody, nobody but you,” apparently a popular song your correspondent is blissfully unaware of). I have frequented enough Highway 7 restaurants to definitively endorse Ding Tai Fung as the holy grail of Chinese cuisine.
6 shanghai pork buns or 12 smaller ones, $6-8
The second picture is from Ding Tai Fung Beijing