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The show put on by the cooks at Sun’ Kitchen on the second floor of Pacific Mall is every bit as excellent as the food. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
The show put on by the cooks at Sun’ Kitchen on the second floor of Pacific Mall is every bit as excellent as the food. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

The Globe’s 10 best places for Chinese food in Toronto (Hint: Go north) Add to ...

In a metropolitan region that’s suddenly overrun with noodle-soup joints, this time-tested little shop in a food court on the Pacific Mall’s second floor remains a standout. The soup itself is original gangster, as the local mallrats might call it: chopped barbecue duck, char siu pork, wobbly-tender brisket, spare ribs or just plain vegetables and a tangle of dense, chewy, elementally comforting northwestern Chinese wheat noodles in golden-toned poultry broth. (The peanut and chili-laden dan dan version is also great.) But the show at the counter is every bit as excellent. In a blur of flour and forearm muscle, Sun or his young apprentice stretch balls of dough into thick ropes, which they flip up above their heads, then down with a thwack to counter, then up again, and down again, folding and stretching until the rope of dough becomes dozens of those noodles, called la mian, which they drop, every minute or so, into an enormous pot of hissing water. It’s a mesmerizing show, the admission just $6; the soup is really free when you think about it. Pacific Mall, 4300 Steeles Ave. E., Markham, 905-947-8463

Ten Ren’s Tea Time

This warehouse-sized branch of Ten Ren Group, the Taiwan-based tea juggernaut, is a living room for much of Markham’s twenty-something set; it’s a scene as much as a place to buy a (non-alcoholic) drink. Those drinks are fantastic, though! Start with something simple if you’re new to Taiwanese tea culture: Iron goddess tea shaken with watermelon and aloe jelly, maybe (the bubbles caused by shaking are what give bubble tea its name; not the tapioca pearls that are often included), or a strawberry and jasmine green tea. If you’ve got kids in tow, the “horoscope drinks” come with mixed with tapioca balls and ice cream (Aquarius gets coconut and banana; Libra gets red beans and coconut). Traditionalists will find a smart selection of plain, old-fashioned hot tea, too. There are meat and noodle dishes available, though the brick toast is the go-to order. It’s a slice of white bread as thick as a box-spring mattress (or thereabouts), drenched with sweetened condensed milk and broiled. 111 Times Ave. #101, Markham, 905-881-8896

Full House Desserts

Even from 10 yards’ distance, Full House smells of durian, the hyper-odiferous southeast Asian fruit; if you don’t already love the stuff, you’re bound to pick up your pace as you walk on by. But Full House’s Hong Kong-style desserts – hot and cold soups made from nuts or fresh fruit; crêpes wrapped around Chantilly cream and fruit – are exquisite. The “Full House Sago” is a fruit-lover’s fantasy: a puree of creamy, rich-tasting mango (they use Asian mangoes here, not Mexican ones; it’s like comparing Marion Cotillard to Snooki), with tart, juicy pomelo pulp, hunks of chopped mango and glassine little pearls made from tapioca flour. The black-sesame sweet balls are smooth and white on the outside, dark and earthy in their centres, a beautiful counterpoint to hot ginger soup. I’m also a fan of the black-sesame and walnut soup, which is available with or without nutty, black glutinous rice. And even the durian is worth a try if you’re adventurous. Your best bet if you’re new to the fruit is to get a hunk of it with whipped cream in a pancake. It smells rank to the unaccustomed, like someone mixed rotting bananas with unwashed feet and baby poop, but tastes quite a bit better. There are mango-filled pancakes instead if you must. Unit #12 – 9425 Leslie St., Richmond Hill, 905-737-2300

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