Restaurant review: China Cottage

China Cottage keeping it consistent.

Website:  http://www.chinacottage.ca/

Address: 5985 Steeles Ave. E, Scarborough, Ontario M1V5P7

Telephone: 416 292 1488

Price: $10-$25

Recommended: Pakora, Tofu 88, Chilli fish/chicken, Chef’s special shrimp

According to its website, China Cottage is listed in the top 100 Chinese restaurants of the 7th annual Top Canada whilst being the only Hakka restaurant to be nominated in Canada.

And it has surely earned it for their consistent flavor.

Located on the bustling streets of Markham and Steeles, China cottage is a knockout. Serving the best Hakka style dishes, they don’t let you down and you are bound to be going back.

Tip-toppity servers in their white shirts and black ties walk around checking on their guests in the dim lit space with exquisite décor.

China Cottage has been in the restaurant scene for about 15 years however, its first location has seen better days. Nestled in a run-down plaza on Ellesmere and Pharmacy amongst many other golden restaurants. None the less, the food is still great at that location – for take-out. But the owners have definitely upped their game with their new location in Markham (– the heart of many Asians) which will leave you refreshed and then some.

Be warned, the food is spicy so hold your tongue on how spicy you want your dish to be. Most dishes are marked with a red chilli next to the name. A few have two chillies. The menu is very familiar but the food carries their signature. The presentation is very simple with no unnecessary garnishing for you to peel away before digging in. However, a few main dishes are not heart smart; they tend to be oily. But on the bright side, they could be customized. Portions are large and could serve about 2-4; Halal meat is also served. Vegetarian? No problem. They’ve got you covered. Besides delicious tofu they’ve got an assortment from broccoli to mushrooms. A Thai menu is also offered which is not their forte but definitely try the Thai Mango Salad, despite being the only salad on the menu.

Many Hakka restaurants lack one or the other. If you’re lucky, the food will be good the first time but not the second. And vice versa. It lacks consistency. Which is always a major concern for restaurant goers. In fact, it makes me nervous every time I pull out my wallet to pay. Is the chef having a good day? I hope he is because I better be served my money’s worth.

But fear not. China Cottage promises consistency.

The popular restaurant is jam packed every weekend. Filled with family, friends and couples occupying the booths. The dim lit night screams of couples especially at night when there is no extra light to shine through but that’s not to say family and friends aren’t allowed.   Weekends could use more helping hands to avoid confusion with orders. But the staff are kind and all friendly as they dissolve the problem effortlessly.

The noise level is mediocre. You can carry a conversation as long as you can bare the noise of a few servers taking orders through the phone. They are loud.

Currently LCBO licensed, they serve Indian beer alongside North American beverages.

China Cottage serves great comfort food; just don’t check in more than twice a week.