All day, every day Rol San serves Dim Sum to locals and visitors of Toronto. An institution located North of Dundas at Spadina. Ask anyone from Toronto where they eat Dim Sum and they’ll probably mention Rol San. There will absolutely be a lineup when you arrive as there was for us, but within 15 minutes you will be seated and another 5 minutes you will have tea and start ordering your meal. It’s not breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner; this is Toronto Dim Sum, and Rol San serves it up all day long.
Dim Sum is one of my “happy place” meals. I didn’t grow up eating it, but I’ve come to enjoy sitting at a large round table while Bamboo Steam baskets arrive one after the other with tasty treats inside. I know what I’ve ordered, but it’s Christmas morning every time the server removes the Bamboo lid to reveal what’s in the basket. Is it Har Gow or Shui Mai, two of my absolute favourite dishes? Or perhaps it will be some steamed buns with their delicate cooked white dough surrounding a tangy and sweet BBQ Pork filling. No matter what arrives, I’ll be happy.
Rol San Restaurant has two dining rooms, the small one at the front where we sat and a huge one located at the back of the restaurant. While we were in the lineup waiting for our table, I couldn’t understand why people would walk through the line and head straight for the back. If you are in “the know” you know that there is a bigger dining room not visible from the front with its one waiting area.
We didn’t have to wait long for our table, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once seated we are all over the menu, a piece of paper with every Dim Sum item laid out in tables with empty boxes beside each.This is where we can pencil in how many orders of each dish we want.
There are only three of us, but I feel like we ordered enough food for ten people. Oh well, I am pretty sure we can finish it all off. Shortly after we hand in our order, the dishes start to arrive. First up is the Har Gow. Delicate rice dumplings filled with Shrimp. Absolutely yummy and perfect when dipped in hot chili sauce and soy sauce.
With Dim Sum, you’ve got to be prepared to eat as soon as the dishes arrive. If you don’t your table will quickly become overladen with food waiting to be eaten, and Dim Sum is always best enjoyed steaming hot. Next to arrive are the Shui Mai and some Steamed BBQ Pork Buns. Gobble gobble they get snatched up and eaten pretty quickly.
As we have cleared off the first few dishes more arrive. Deep Fried Shrimp & Chive Cakes and Deep Fried Taro Puffs stuffed with Pork. The Taro puffs are not my favourite, I think they are more of an acquired taste, but the shrimp and chive cakes are a golden crispy delight.
The last dish to arrive is for my friends; Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves with a BBQ Pork filling. Delicious but I prefer to fill up on more Har Gaw and Shui Mai.
My favourite part of Dim Sum is that if you enjoy something, and you run out of it, just order more. I did order more of the Har Gaw and Shui Mai. The last dish to be enjoyed, and these were all for me, are the Sesame Balls with Black Bean paste. Don’t ask me why but I love Sesame Balls. I could eat these all day every day and be a very happy man. They are best eaten warm before they lose their tenderness.
That is it, our meal is over, we pay the bill and our server grabs the tablecloth from its four corners and clears the table with one lift. Rol San is ready to serve another group. Happy Dim Sum!