Saturday, September 19, 2015

Swatow Restaurant -- Shrimp Dumpling Noodle Soup & more in the heart of Toronto


Today I want to take a look at one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto -- Swatow, a restaurant just north of Dundas St. on the east side of Spadina Ave. in the very heart of Toronto's downtown Chinatown area and the city itself.



Swatow highlights a style of cooking the originates from the Fujian region, and its extensive menu is full of very affordable and truly delicious dishes. It is a casual dining restaurant that I have been going to for over 20 years and in all that time I can honestly say that I have never had a bad meal or dish there.


Always brightly lit and full of patrons at all hours of the day or night, it has a very friendly staff (some of whom have been there the entire time I have been going) and welcoming atmosphere. There are tables for four along the sides and large round tables down the middle that are either for large groups or for mixed/communal eating when the restaurant is really busy (Swatow does not take reservations, so at peak hours you may have to wait in a line a few minutes).

The prices are excellent, with most dishes costing less than $10, and the portions are large -- a great combination!

Shrimp Dumpling Noddle Soup
I simply adore their justly famous Shrimp Dumpling Noodle Soup, a dish I find it difficult to go a week without. The dumplings are, simply put, fantastic and the whole earthy blend of broth, greens and noodles is perfect any time of day (or night, Swatow is a well established late night "after the bars close" destination), or any season. I highly recommend adding heaping spoonfuls of their excellent house table chili flake hot sauce.

Beef with Black Bean Sauce and Fried Noodle
I have also ordered the Beef with Black Bean Sauce and Fried Noodles many times. The fried noodle dishes at Swatow are all excellent, the very satisfying texture of the perfectly prepared noodles complimenting the various sauces and meat, chicken or seafood. Swatow always has wonderfully moist beef and chicken, never the dry or tough fare that one all too often gets at restaurants of all types.

General Tso's Chicken 
The slightly spicy General Tso's chicken, done a little differently than many places I have had it, is another dish well worth trying.

Greens with Oyster Sauce
A side dish I order virtually every time I go is the Greens with Oyster Sauce. I love dipping the greens in the salty sauce and the combination is a terrific one.

Deep Fried Squid with spicy dipping sauce.
The kids grabbed  up pieces right when it hit the table before I could take the photo!
The portion size is much larger than this. 
Swatow makes an excellent deep fried squid plate. Seasoned so that they are a little spicy, they are served with a side sauce that is really spicy and flavourful.

Their Lo Mein dishes and beef sizzling plate have also been memorable stand outs over the years, and it is hard to go wrong with any of their soups or anything I have tried on the menu for that matter. Two people can easily eat here for less than $40.

Swatow is located at 309 Spadina Ave., just north of Dundas St. in the heart of Chinatown and near the Kensington Market district. They are open until at least 2 a.m., 365 days a year. Swatow does not accept reservations and is not licensed. 416-977-0601


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