Nestled between Baldwin Street and D'Arcy Street on Spadina Avenue lies Rol San, one of Toronto's best dim sum restaurants. A large red and yellow banner sprawls across the front, advertising the all-day dim sum, so you won't have trouble picking Rol San out from the many surrounding restaurants.
All Day Dim Sum by Alex Cameron
Prices range from $2.88 to $4.68 per dish, so it's not surprising that this place can fill up on any given Saturday. The restaurant has large tables in the back, ideal for eight to ten people. But on a busy day, you'll probably end up sharing a table like this with a few other diners.
The dim sum menu has 54 items, so choosing can be overwhelming, but I suggest marking up your menu quickly, as service can be quite slow at this Chinatown joint. Seated at a table with other diners, it was difficult for the many servers on staff to determine who ordered what, but after a little confusion and banter with the others, the food arrived and did not disappoint.
Rol San Restaurant tasty food by Gabriel Szczesniak
A slow but steady stream of food appeared with everything from home-made pan-fried pancakes ($2.88) to fresh shrimp rice rolls ($4.68) to steamed vegetable dumplings ($3.98). The real star of the meal was the deep-fried shrimp with chives cake ($4.68), which was served with mayonnaise — crispy and flavourful. Certainly the steamed pork and crab meat dumpling soup ($4.28) was another favourite. If you're looking for something sweet, the steamed custard buns ($2.88) and deep-fried pumpkin with yolk, cashew, and sweet potatoes ($2.88) are perfect choices. For a more traditional taste, the shrimp dumplings, also known as har gow ($4.68), were served piping-hot in their basket.
The atmosphere of the restaurant itself isn't much different than many of Rol San's competitors in Chinatown. The walls are lined with framed Chinese characters, and the tables are covered with white plastic tablecloths that resemble garbage bags. Once the tables are cleared, the cleanup is easy, as the tablecloths are removed to reveal a brand new tablecloth underneath.
Rol San Restaurant tea by Gabriel Szczesniak
The servers, although slow, are all smiley and quick to seat you as soon as possible. The diners are an eclectic group — from young couples, to families, to singles grabbing a quick bite to eat. Although you'd think it would be easy to accidentally rack up a huge bill, it's also easy to avoid an expensive tab with prices like Rol San's. All in all, Rol San's dim sum upheld its positive reputation and made for a nice afternoon meal — one that was perfect to share and accompanied by some green tea ($0.60 per person).