[I’m finalllly out of hiatus to bring you all my draft and backlog restaurant reviews! –Sherry]

Lai Wah Heen is pretty much one of Toronto’s most acclaimed restaurants for dim sum.  Its dim sum was featured at University of Toronto’s first annual Asian Foodprints conference back in 2009. I missed out on the sampling at the conference, so I was pretty excited when I got the invitation to check this place out.

Name: Lai Wah Heen

Location: 108 Chestnut Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 1R3 (Metropolitan Hotel)

Cost: ~$160 for 4 people. There is prix fixe for dim sum $30/$45.

Website: http://www.laiwahheen.com/

Interior of the restaurant with Chinese calligraphy as decoration.

Since it’s in the Metropolitan Hotel, the atmosphere is a bit more high end and the service better than your average dim sum restaurant in Markham or Richmond Hill. But it’s also not over-the-top-opulence-to-the-point-of-tacky like the Crown Princess downtown.  There are two major reasons to go to Lai Wah Heen for dim sum: 1) The quality is one of the very best for Toronto, 2)  The different types of unique dumplings and other dishes you can sample here.  If you want the best of the best or you’re adventurous and love to try new types of dim sum, look no further — Lai Wah Heen provides all of that.

Think of your average shrimp dumpling. This is LWH’s shrimp dumpling:

Crystal shrimp dumpling ($6)

They’re massive and set the tone for LWH’s dim sum experience — they don’t hold anything back, and they shouldn’t because you’re paying a premium for the good stuff. From here on out, I’ll only post the pictures of the more unique menu items. We had quite a spread for 4 people so your $ mileage may vary. Onto the food  porn!

Baked mini turnover of roasted eel, sweet teriyaki sauce ($6/3).

Steamed crystal purse filled with five spicy shredded duckling & heart of garlic ($3.50/piece).

The eel turnover was hands down the best of the bunch. Sweet and addicting, we couldn’t get enough of it. The steamed crystal purse is an example of their unique dumpling offerings. Beautiful presentation and tasty to boot. Below are some other unique dumplings. I loved the scallop dumpling. It’s a delicate piece of culinary art that provides both crunchy and soft, juicy textures. The wrapping is different from a regular dumpling too (think of the wrapping from a fresh roll in Thai cuisine) so it provided yet another contrasting texture. The wagyu beef dumpling was average, only dressed up with wagyu beef so it’s passable.

Steamed dumpling of Waygu beef accompanied with thinly sliced Waygu beef, in chili oil ($5)

Steamed scallop, shredded dried conpoy & white fungus in dumpling ($3.50/piece)

Steamed jumbo prawn embraced with lobster & scallop paste in dumpling ($3.50/piece).

Dessert was amazing as well. We got the typical dim sum dessert egg tarts, red bean paste crystal purses, and durian pastry. I had a blast eating the durian pastry. It had the durian taste and a bit of the smell but it was sweet, creamy, and wrapped in a crispy cocoon. Definitely would eat that again.

Steamed crystal purse of red bean paste ($6)

Deep-fried cream of durian in a puffy cocoon ($6).

VERDICT: Definitely worth the trip for a visit if you can shell out the money for dim sum. They do have a prix fixe dim sum menu that is more affordable and accessible.  Their dim sum dishes are epic and unique, that it’s fun to see what comes to the table and what it looks like. I’m not slagging your average dim sum place. They have their place and role, but if you’re in the mood for amazing dim sum, unique creations, and a nice atmosphere, LWH is the place to go.  If you’re curious about Lai Toh Heen, the uptown sister restaurant of LWH, I’ll write up a review for it too.

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