China House, an Eglinton West fixture since 1958, has announced that its vintage dining room will be closing on July 18. With the site slated for condo development, owner Jonathan Wise is currently searching for a new home for one of Toronto’s last upscale Chinese restaurants.
“It is truly the end of an era,” Wise says. “China House has been a Forest Hill institution for so many generations of families who continue to come from all parts of Toronto.”
In the 1960s, Wise recalls going there on Sundays with his father and grandfather. Wise, along with his wife, Nicole, recently restored and upgraded the restaurant, bringing in live jazz on Thursdays. Attracting top Canadian talent, its lineup of performers has included Dave Young and Jackie Richardson. The final Thursday night of jazz, which has Carol McCartney on the bill, is nearly sold out.
In the meantime, loyal customers will be happy to know that Wise has struck up a deal with the developer that will allow its booming takeout and delivery service to continue running from its side entrance. The kitchen, recipes and much of the staff will stay.
The menu offers a selection of classic Cantonese cuisine, with sweet and sour chicken balls ($12.95) and BBQ spare ribs ($11.95) remaining popular picks. While the recipes haven’t changed, the ingredients have become healthier, Wise said. Nothing contains MSG or trans fats.
A number of films and TV shows have shot scenes in the iconic space.
“Once it’s gone, there will never be another one like it,” he says.
China House, 925 Eglinton Ave. W., 416-781-9121