Ottawa’s top Chinese restaurants that really deliver

The city’s Chinese restaurants offer dine-in and takeout options for those looking to enjoy authentic sweet or spicy dishes like dim sum and noodles. Choices seem boundless, though there’s comfort in the old saying that the older the civilization, the better the food. In this round-up of top Chinese eateries in Ottawa, only some deliver to your home but all deliver goodness.

Yi Mini Dim Sum House

1
870 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K1R 6R7

This is my go-to dim sum place in Ottawa, bar none. Judging by the weekend line-ups, I’m not alone. The tiny no-frills space seats just 28. Noodles are made fresh each morning and everything is prepared to order by the mom-and-pop duo that runs the place. Dim sum is an all-day affair, but you can get meal-sized Chinese dishes, too; the spicy flounder in black bean sauce and hotpot seafood with tofu are not common locally.

Yangtze

2
700 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K1R 6P6

A Chinatown institution, the sprawling, bustling Yangtze has been in business more than 30 years. It must be doing something right. When it’s busy, which is much of the time, it buzzes with a mixed clientele of Asian and non-Asian diners. With both Cantonese and spicier cuisine, there’s something for every taste. Gluten-free diets are accommodated and the place offers seasonal specials. Try the Hunan beef or, for something a tad different, fried lobster with ginger and onions. Delivery is available until 11 p.m.

Shanghai Restaurant

3
651 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K1R 5K3

The Shanghai is reportedly the pioneer in Chinatown’s restaurant scene. It also wins the race for hippest, hands down. One of the reasons: drag queen China Doll is on hand every Saturday night for one of the city’s top karaoke events. The walls are laden with equally interesting art, and the mixed drinks are a cut above expectations, but you’re here for the food. While the place caters to every taste, vegetarians especially will appreciate such dishes as General Tao’s tofu. Delivery is available till closing, which can be late.

Shuwei Restaurant

4
706 Somerset St W, Ottawa, ON K1R 6P6

Also known by its Chinese name Shuwei, this recent arrival on the Chinatown scene has made a splash with its Szechuan offerings, attracting patrons who tuck into dishes of whole fish, perked up with assorted veggies and other trappings. Fare can be exotic, such as cold pork lung in chili sauce, or more mainstream, such as salt and pepper shrimp. The space is brightened by red chairs and rough-hewn timber posts and beams. Please note the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Wednesdays. Delivery is available for those who wish to dine at home.

Royal Thai & Palais Imperial Restaurant

5
311-313 Dalhousie St, Ottawa, ON K1N 7E8

Palais Imperial is Lowertown’s best-known Chinese eatery for a reason: it ladles out fresh, tasty food in a busy, two-level space with sufficient staff to ensure service is smooth. It also serves both Chinese and Thai cuisines, listed on separate menus and prepared by different chefs, thus doubling its appeal to a diverse crowd. The huge Chinese menu has the usual Cantonese and Szechuan fare. On weekends, fresh dim sum served from trolleys is the attraction; I recommend the cilantro-studded scallop dumplings.

Ho Ho Restaurant

6
875 Richmond Rd, Ottawa, ON K2A 0G7

There’s little wonder that Tony Ho’s Westboro eatery has been popular with families for years. It has the feel and culinary approach of a typical Canadianized Asian eatery, but the food is fresh and MSG free. Vegetarian and gluten-free options aren’t an afterthought. The comfortably familiar fare is spiced with out-of-the-ordinary surprises like Peking pork, zee yan lamb, and a sizzling hotplate of eggplant and shrimp. Kids might walk away with balloons. Delivery is available.

Golden Palace

7
2195 Carling Ave, Ottawa, ON K2B 7E8

There’s one satisfying constant at this third-generation old-school Chinese restaurant: the egg rolls. They’re open ended, which means a crispy finish to the tasty, generous filling. They’re so popular that folks pick up batches for friends before heading out of town. The rest of the menu is made up of standard Canadian-Chinese fare, and the service is sometimes brusque, but those egg rolls are worth the visit.

True enough, Ottawa ain’t the city that never sleeps, but that’s not because of a caffeine shortage, especially in Lowertown where coffee shops abound. If you can’t find something to give you a java jolt among these options, you really are sleepwalking.
Hotel bars aren’t a mere convenience for hotel guests. Some of Ottawa’s best are grandly sumptuous: perfect venues for a milestone occasion. Other bars are stylish and sleek, ideal for a dress-up date night. There are those where friends meet after work, and a couple that are perfect for the T-shirt-jeans-and-bottle-of-beer set. One thing our favourite hotel bars have in common, though, is decent drinks and nibbles.
Maybe it’s because our summers are short that all Ottawa citizens flock to restaurant patios as soon as the snow melts, and stay till it falls again. Some eateries plop down a couple of tables just about anywhere outside, abutting busy roadways where they snarl sidewalk traffic. But we’ve found great al fresco dining – from gourmet fare to burgers ‘n’ beer – that eliminates both sunstroke and exhaust fumes.
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