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First Dinner in Toronto: Xam Yu

March 4, 2012

Yikes – how long has it been since I was actually in Toronto? Most of you know already, but the trip went really well! The Chowhound research paid off and good meals were had in Toronto’s Chinatown, next door to the University of Toronto’s downtown campus, and on Bloor St, this long street of bookstores, cafes, coffeeshops, and everything else that college students want right along the northern edge of UToronto. Our first meal in Toronto was my favorite of the ones we had in Chinatown – the recommendation came off a Chowhound thread about late-night eating and Xam Yu was praised for its “wok hei,” a concept in Cantonese cuisine that literally translated means “wok heat” and is meant to indicate the importance of searing heat with a well-oiled wok to keep fresh ingredients at their best textures while adding to their natural taste the subtle aromas of fire and seasonings.

Something we learned the first night and came to love about Chinese restaurants in Toronto’s Chinatown is the practice of a house soup and dessert soup with every meal. And for soups we didn’t explicitly pay for, these were lovely slow-cooked Cantonese soups full of flavors and goodness – better, in fact, than some of the soups we had paid for in other Chinese restaurants elsewhere.

 

Nick had some sort of terrible stomach bug so we got him fish fillet congee with thick slices of firm sweet whitefish and plentiful slivers of ginger

 

We overheard the table next to us getting "Walking Chicken," ostensibly meaning free-range chickens. This well-done Hainanese-style chicken did taste more chicken-y and came with a wonderfully aromatic sauce of scallions and ginger

 

Xam Yu is a Cantonese seafood restaurant so we got these razor clams stirfried with black bean sauce. The clams were chewy in a good way and the sauce was delicious - I only wish there had been more

 

Cantonese/Indonesian? style rather than Indian, meaning less spicy, more sweet, and a coconut cream/milk base. Beef was tender. Peppers and onions were crunchy. Good with rice but unremarkable

 

My dad's favorite dish - Xam Yu's wok hei really shone through in this one. Crazy delicious. Noodles might have been fresh too

 

Xam Yu has a blackboard of daily specials for around $11. Almost all seafood and each table can only order one off the board. We went with salt and pepper frog legs. To me, frog legs taste like a cross between chicken and tuna

 

Perfect after after all that wok hei - gently sweet, room temp mung bean soup

 

Strongly recommended.

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