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Toronto: transit & transit-accessible Chinatown & Indian restaurant Qs

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Jun 15th, 2012, 01:10 PM
  #1
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Toronto: transit & transit-accessible Chinatown & Indian restaurant Qs

Hello,

This year associated with my parents' visit to Montreal, I'm taking them to big old T.O. for their first time ever. I've been to T.O. a number of times but thought a resident could help me out. with a few questions.

We won't have a car so travelling with my parents presents some challenges. My Dad has knee/hip troubles and while he can walk several blocks without too much difficulty, he needs to take breaks and doesn't want to go overboard walking.... so I'm trying to keep things relatively close to streetcar, subway stops. My priorities are showing them the terrific Queen/Spadina Chinatown and bringing them to the Islands for our 2 day stay.

So my questions are this:

1. I want to take them to a classic Chinatown establishment. Unpretentious, hole-in-the-wall place is fine as long as there's good food. We're not the types to pay an arm and a leg.
2. What's the best way to get to the Islands ferry via transit (starting from say, Union Station)?
3. I remember a terrific Indian restaurant in Yorkville, so I associate Toronto now with great Indian food. Any Indian restaurants more centrally located (see comment above about cost)?
4. I'll probably get the $10.50 day pass; since they're Seniors, they'll I suspect pay the $2 senior fare, which leaves me with a question. My question is if they transfer to a streetcar from subway, do they just show their ticket twice or does one pick up a "transfer"?

Thanks in advance! Daniel
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Jun 16th, 2012, 03:46 PM
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Hi Daniel,

Happy to help with info on our fair city; question : do you know in what area you'll be staying ? There are so many good and inexpensive Chinese and Indian eateries in the city that It will be easier to suggest nice places to fit your requirements that are within the vicinity of your hotel given you parent's mobility issues, even though I know you plan to get them a pass.
If you can advise of your location, I will give you specific restaurant suggestions.

1. Lots of really good unpretentious places in Chinatown in the Bay and Dundas area, and across Dundas to Spadina (2 short blocks across), and from there along Spadina. If you want more upscale, I can suggest those too. Please specify whether for lunch or dinner.

2. From Union Station, it is a short 5 - 10 minute walk south on Bay to Queens's Quay (Street) West. At the foot of Bay and QQWest is the Westin HarbourCastle, and the ferry terminals are right there. Depending on your father's mobility, you can probably walk there quite easily from Union though there is a lot of construction going on outside Union station at the moment. If you prefer to take the TTC, better to take a bus from further up Bay street as the LRT from Union station drops you off further west on QQWest than you want to be, and you'll have to walk back to the terminals.

3. There are several very good Indian Restaurants in the theatre district on King St. West of University, around Roy Thompson Hall, The Royal Alex theatre and the Princess of Wales Theatre which are all virtually next door to each other.
For the real deal, some great places on Gerrard St. and Coxwell, but that's further away - but still quite doable with TTC, if the three of you want a small, fun ethnic adventure. I can suggest restaurant names in both these areas and elsewhere too (including types of Indian cuisine - vegetarian, South Indian, Gujarati, Tikka kebab, etc.) depending on your location. Again, specify whether for lunch or dinner.

4. Yes, they will need a transfer ticket between buses, streetcars and subway, but each transfer is timed so you have to make your connection within a certain time frame or else you need to pay again. (You mention a $2.00 fare but I cannot confirm if that is the current Seniors fare). Check here : www.ttc.ca

Also, it will be good to know the dates you may be here, as the city is full of ethnic festivals almost every weekend of the summer (including Indian, Italian, African, Greek, Caribbean and others) all which feature great food amongst other cultural things (music, dance, crafts). You all might enjoy one of these.
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Jun 16th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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Hi Mathieu.. thanks for all this; terrific stuff!

We're staying at the Strathcona by Union Station; July 4th- July 6th.

Feel free to mention the "real deal" places for Indian food in the Gerrard St. area, although the closer-to-downtown restaurants may work too. It would likely be for supper I'm thinking; I suspect Chinatown (Dundas/Spadina... I knew I was a little off) would be lunch.

Thanks again! Daniel
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Jun 19th, 2012, 07:58 PM
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hey daniel, i am just back from a week in toronto and can confirm that the senior fare is $2. i would imagine a quick cab ride to the ferry dock for the islands would not be a whole lot more than 3 transit fares as the distance is close.

i went to the beach @ hanlon's point which unfortunately for your dad is about a 1km walk. i did see people ride what looked like side by side bicycles that i assume were rented somewhere. maybe you as a cyclist could find a pedal rickshaw and pedal your folks around.

we've had a cool spring so i loved the hot weather. it was only my second visit to toronto and i gave an afternoon to the fabulous art gallery. the ken thompson donation is incredible art from europe and canada w/ ruben's fabulous "massacre of the innocents". the frank gehry renovation is quite interesting and the views out to the wacky art school building over the park are cool.

ate mainly outdoors in reasonable cafes on church street and just grazed around the market.

the bixi system is up and running and i was able to borrow helmets from hotel staff!

have a great visit

AndrewDavid

ps
vancouver has just voted for a bixi system and will have to provide helmet rentals as its the law in BC
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Jun 20th, 2012, 10:20 AM
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From a lifelong Torontonian, here are some additional notes.

My favourite Chinese food restaurants in Chinatown are Rol San on Spadina north of Dundas (they have dim sum for lunch too), Goldstone Noodle Restaurant on Spadina south of Dundas, Yueh Tung on Elizabeth (SW of Bay and Dundas). If your parents would prefer something a bit more modern and cafe-like, try Asian Legend on Dundas east of Spadina. If you want to try Vietnamese, there's several near the Dundas/Spadina intersection but my favourites are Pho 88 or Pho Hung on Spadina.

If you're going to go down to Harbourfront, the restaurants down there aren't that great. It's nice to stop for a drink or an ice cream while you sit by the lake, but the restaurants are average, middle-of-the road that you can get anywhere.

Since you're staying at the Strathcona, be sure to walk over to St. Lawrence market (closed on Sunday and Monday). You can grab breakfast or lunch while you're there and there's a variety of food to choose from. My go-tos are the peameal bacon on a bun or the parmigiana sandwiches but there's tons or other stuff too. Paddington's Pump is great for some good diner-type breakfast. There's a Tim Horton's right across the street from the hotel if you need something quick or you're one of those Canadians who needs a Tim's fix. The Benihana restaurant across the street in the Royal York hotel is a fun dining experience as well and I find that this one is better than other Benihanas I have been to.

Have a great time.
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Jun 21st, 2012, 07:25 PM
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I love the Goldstone too, travelindine. Maybe we've been there together some time!

My other favourite is King Noodle on Spadina, west side, just north of Dundas. The past couple of times I've tried to go there, though, it's been closed. I don't know if it was just after hours, closed for reno, vacation or what. There was a sign on the door but it was in Chinese. Anyone know if it's still in business? It's a great noodle house and I'd be sorry to lose it.
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Jun 22nd, 2012, 02:40 PM
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I've been reading everyone's advice. I'll properly thank you all when I'm back home and have access to other than hotel internet & internet cafes.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 09:40 AM
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Daniel, apologies for the delay getting back to you - just finished writing and shipping off my thesis last week, so am less stressed and have a bit more time now.

The Strathcona is a great location and all the posted suggestions above are great. Best of all, you will be in strolling distance to the entertainment district surrounding Roy Thompson Hall, The Royal Alex and the Princess of Wales theatres all of which have lots of nice restaurants along King Street, between University Ave. and westwards towards Spadina.
In this area you will find a couple of indian restaurants that have a pretty good lunch buffet. I've eaten at the two I'm recommending several times when I used to work nearby, and though reviews were mixed, I always thought that the food was pretty good and often authentically made (instead of being too westernised). They are :
Kama Kama located at 214 King St. W (http://www.goldbook.ca/toronto-on/re...cuisine-17150/) and,
Dhaba located at 309 King W. (http://www.toronto.com/listing/12435...ian-restaurant)
Another good one is the Butter Chicken Factory located at 566 Parliament St. (416) 964-7583. It's in the NE part of the city in an area known as Cabbagetown which itself is a very interesting area to explore and has lots of very nice low-key and quirky restaurants of all cuisines. Well covered by the TTC.
I can speak for all these for lunch, but not for dinner as I've usually left the city by then.

If you really want the Gerrard St. Indian experience, there's a lot I can recommend to you there. It is a unique part of town and one one that visitors accidentally stumble upon. There are some very good restaurants there. Too bad that you will not be here on July 7th and 8th as I read about a street festival taking place there which is sure to be very colourful and lively. However... I have an idea. PM me at [email protected] and I will give you details. I'd recommend going there at dinner time rather than for lunch (more atmospheric and vibrant usually.)

For Chinese restaurants in the downtown core, Travelndine's reco of Yeuh Tung is one of my favourites too. I remember the old days when they did a really good 'mixed seafood on rice' special, as well as a great chilli chicken.
There are two others I would also recommend, one being Dim Sum King Seafood Restaurant located at 421 Dundas St. (it's on the 3rd floor in Chinatown so not sure if that may cause any issues for your parents) and the other is a personal favourite, New Treasure Restaurant located at 150 Dundas street, just a few steps west of Bay St. It is subterranean (about 10 steps down and has a very good dim sum selection for very reasonable prices, and is a good place for lunch. It's always packed at noon but the table turnover is very fast.

All these serve seafood as well as other meats, and vegetarian dishes.

Also, you will be in Toronto just at the start of the very popular Summer Food Festival known as "Summerlicious". Rather than explain, you can read all about it here : http://www.toronto.ca/special_events...2012/index.htm

You'll enjoy the islands. It's very beautiful and serene and the views of the city are amazing. Since you're a keen cyclist, you may like to take the ferry to Centre Island (the middle of three docks, the other two being Wards Island on one side and Hanlon's point on the other), then walk towards the water and rent a bicycle buggy, where you peddle up front and your parents sit in the back. The ride in the direction of Wards Island is beautiful.

Let me know if you need further info.

Mathieu.
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Jun 30th, 2012, 09:44 AM
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OOps... sorry, should read "... and one that visitors DO NOT accidentally stumble upon..."
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Jun 30th, 2012, 02:31 PM
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TravelIndine-- Great to get advice from a lifelong Torontonian. I was thinking about the Saint Lawrence Market; I'll have to see on a map how many blocks that is from the Strathcona.

Mathieu-- Kudos to you getting the thesis off! I remember when I wrote mine, I'd find every excuse to NOT work on it. Thanks for the detailed advice, pity we're only there one night, a full day, then a half-day... there is so much to try! I think my Dad is OK with steps & his walking endurance depends on how recent his cortisone shot was (Mom no problem). I'll get a better sense when I see him tomorrow. Is the Gerrard St. Indian restaurant area readily accessible by subway?

AndrewDavid--It was the AGO you went to? What a terrific place that is! Glad you got some cycling in; I thought the cycling culture in Holland was fantastic BTW.

GoddesstoGo-- Thanks for seconding the Goldstone! I'm starting to be sad we're only going to have three meals in Toronto .

Best wishes to all-- Daniel
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Jun 30th, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Yes, it is possible to get to the Indian bazaar on Gerrard street by TTC.
The TTC site advises catching the 504 streetcar from anywhere along King street between University and Bay streets (a very short walk north from the Strathcona) and then head East on the streetcar to Broadview subway station. There you will switch to the 506 Carlton streetcar heading towards Main Street station. Before getting there you will exit at Gerrard and Ashdale and walk 1 minute along Gerrard to where the Bazaar begins.

The Bazaar extends about 6 or 7 short blocks along Gerrard and is lined with stores and restaurants. At one end (where you will arrive above) is a really good South Asian restaurant called Udupi Palace. It is completely vegetarian and their specialities are the beautiful large and lacy 'dosas' which come with a veggie filling and savoury dipping sauces. Not spicy hot but very flavourful. At the other end is the amazing Lahore Tikka House, specializing in fantastic Pakistani BBQ, tandoor and sizzling platter foods. In between these restaurant bookends are several very good restaurants and unusual street food vendors. Two restaurants I'd recommend are New Haandi 2000 and Motimahal, where the usual suspects of butter chicken, biriyanis and other savouries can be found.

There is a possibility that I might be in that area on the 4th or 5th late afternoon/early evening. If our paths cross (or if we can engineer to make them cross without messing our respective schedules) I'd be glad to show you and your parents around that little known part of town for a short while. I've been visiting there twice a year for the past 20+years, so I know it quite well. I live about an hour north of the city, but have to go to The Beach (another interesting area of TO) next week to pick up some merchandise I'd ordered and it's not too far from the Indian Bazaar so it would not be a problem to come by. Let me know. You can contact me at the hotmail e-addy in my previous post above.
It would be nice to show visitors around. My tour is very good and my rates are very reasonable. lol ! (That was a joke)
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Jul 3rd, 2012, 02:15 PM
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daniel, as an architect and visual person i loved the ago; as a big kid i loved the room ( although not a big fan of the liebskin addition)

enjoy and hope you can avoid high humidex

cheers
AndrewDavid
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Jul 6th, 2012, 07:56 PM
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I wanted to take this occasion to thank everyone for their restaurant suggestions, even if we didn't try the ones you mentioned.

My parents & I had a lovely time in Toronto, visiting Centre Island on Thursday, followed up by an evening of delightful conversation meeting up with Mathieu (my first ever meeting with someone on Fodor's!) for supper at Haandi in the Gerrard St. Indian Bazaar. I'd always been curious about the Bazaar, so was glad to finally see it (and to know how to get there). Then today, following travelindine's suggestion, enjoyed Pho Hung (broth for the beef pho was so terrifically flavourful!) tremendously. Tim Horton's was our choice for breakfast both days, being quick & easy.

Given the restaurant ideas that remain to be tried, this post will be bookmarked for future trips. Thanks again!
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Jul 7th, 2012, 08:24 AM
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It was very nice meeting you too Daniel, and your warm parents. I still cannot believe the truly incredible coincidences of our childhood pasts, the people and places that are common to us from such a long, long time ago, and stranger still - continents away ! Can the world get any smaller ?

Glad to hear that the remainder of your visit to Toronto was enjoyable, and hope you all had a safe journey back. Hope to see you all again.

Cheers,

M
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Jul 8th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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Mathieu

It was great meeting you too; indeed, how strange that we both were born in Nairobi and that you and my parents knew people in common! Thanks for suggesting a meet-up, telling such fascinating stories and for giving us your insight on the Gerrard St. India Bazaar! VIA Rail got us to Montreal without a hitch and now my parents are driving home to Washington DC.

Daniel PS Thanks for the birthday wish! Until the next time!
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Jul 14th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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Great info for dining in Toronto! I will be in Toronto for a wedding at the end of September for the weekend and will try some of these recommendations. thanks!
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Aug 15th, 2012, 05:34 PM
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