Spice City Toronto: Strip-Mall Chinese Food, Reservations Required
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Spice City Toronto: Strip-Mall Chinese Food, Reservations Required

Silk Road, in Etobicoke, is constantly packed with diners who love its spin on northern-Chinese cuisine.

Lamb and noodle soup, from Silk Road. Photo by Sarah Efron.

What kind of hole-in-the-wall strip mall restaurant requires reservations? On a Monday!?

When I recently visited Silk Road, a tiny Chinese restaurant in a strip mall in Etobicoke (it’s at 438 Horner Avenue), I was shocked to find out that not only were there no tables available, but waiting wasn’t an option—the place was fully booked all night. A week later I booked a table (the waiter warned me the tables have a one-hour maximum) and I headed back out to Silk Road to see what all the fuss was about.

The sign outside the restaurant is faded and unreadable and the tiny parking lot seems designed to provoke accidents, but this is the place to be if you like northern-Chinese food. People waiting for a table stand awkwardly in the centre of the restaurant, and even a reservation isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be seated promptly. As you wait, you can watch huge troughs piled high with noodles and meat being placed before large groups of trendy looking Chinese 20-year-olds, adorned with pink nail polish and iPads.

The food is worth it. Blending influences from southern-Chinese food and the dishes of Muslims to the north, the food is heavy on lamb and spice.

The excellent lamb and noodle soup ($9.99) is a salty, savoury broth with chili and cilantro chunks that float to the surface. Underneath are impossibly-long, handmade noodles and ribs with tender lamb meat that easily falls off the bone.

Read the rest at Spice City Toronto.

Spice City Toronto explores Toronto’s great hole-in-the-wall restaurants and strip-mall joints serving food from all corners of the world.