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Rol San

I get excited when it comes to anything food, but my limbs tingle a little stronger at the idea of dim sum. Imagine the state I’m in when I actually get to eat it. I’ve been told the curls of my lips stretch to my ears, my eyes bulge out of their sockets and I clap and squeal in a way that embarrasses the people I’m with.

Sorry, friends.

My last companion was spared when we hit up Rol San.

People say it’s good.

Well, it’s not terrible.

They say it’s cheap.

It’s more accurate to say that prices range from $2.88 to $4.48 per dish, but all the staples you want at your table are valued at the higher end. They also charge $0.60 per person for tea…sure, it’s just a few cents, but that shit should come free.

Weekend lineups? Long.

That's a just statement.

But I don’t have a damn clue why the masses gather at this all-day, everyday dim sum joint in Chinatown they consider one of the better options in Toronto.

If you like your dim sum complete with Chinese ladies pushing carts and yelling words you don’t understand at you, then you’ll hate this place.  Trolleys are put to rest in favor of the pen and paper system. Call it practical or not authentic, whatever – the bottom line is, the food you want gets to the table hot and with more ease.

As far as I’m concerned, ha gow or shrimp dumplings ($4.28) are synonymous with dim sum. They’re what I look forward to most and can never leave without. Sold in sets of four, the teasing glimpses of peachy-pink shrimp clusters housed in each wrapper put me in a trance, but I snapped out of it the second my teeth sank into my first one. Nothing was wrong with the plump filling, but the delicate dough tasted like the “dirty” water used to steam them. Dirty isn’t the right word. Think of the tap water they serve at some restaurants you swear they take from the toilet sink. I don’t need my dumplings steamed with Perrier – I’m not a douche. Maybe, like, run the water from the faucet a little longer next time.

If I ever step foot in here again, I would totally go for another round of the chiu chow-style dumplings (3 for $2.88). Peanuts are expected from these dumplings and while they were missing in Rol San’s rendition, I didn’t mind thanks to those chewy, translucent skins wrapped around a well-seasoned mixture of minced pork, shrimp and garlic chives.

The pork spareribs in black bean sauce ($2.88) were the highlight of the meal. Cut into chunks and steamed with black bean sauce until the juices and grease seeped out and pooled at the bottom of the bowl, tender, salty pork and plenty of succulent fat clung to the bones…until I nipped them all clean.

Steamed cuttle fish is one of my favorite dim sum picks. It’s plain in taste but fun in texture as long as it’s not overcooked. The body should be slick and tender, and the tentacles lined with ridges at the head should provide a little resistance. The only cuttle fish option they serve here involves steaming it with curry sauce ($2.88), a yellow curry sauce detectable by eye and not by taste.  Texture was good, but lose the curry sauce if it’s not going to add flavor. It’s misleading.

Another staple at my table is the beef tripe with ginger and scallions, but I’ll pass on Rol San’s version (2.88). It's a simple dish featuring strips of cow stomach lining mildly enhanced with ginger, garlic and scallions that heavily relies on texture. It should be tender and crunchy all at once, and you should be able to distinguish the tiny bumps lining the sheets. I wasn’t able to with the mushy bottom half of my order...


Rol San

323 Spadina Avenue | map


Rol San on Urbanspoon

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