Chinese Restaurants are Scarce in the Gables, But Canton Too is Still Here
Anyone from New York, Chicago or Los Angeles takes Chinese food for granted. Even a cursory visitor to these cities can’t help noticing that Chinese restaurants are, well, everywhere. And as any fan of “The Big Bang Theory” or “Seinfeld” knows, Angelenos and New Yorkers are constantly eating Chinese food from cardboard to-go containers.
So why, then, are there so few Chinese restaurants in Coral Gables? With the departure of No Name Chinese (which was really in South Miami, anyway) and the exception of tiny Wu’s takeout on Madruga, the only Chinese restaurant in the Gables is Canton Too on Ponce.
We asked manager Steve Ho Sang, who is by marriage part of the Ng family that owns Canton Too, why the dearth of restaurants? “The problem with Chinese food is that it is Chinese food,” he says. “It is not extravagant; people can have it anytime. But people here [in Coral Gables] are always rushing to try the new and the trendy. We are not new. We are the old comfort food for the family.”
Indeed, Ho Sang says the busiest times for Canton Too are the holidays – any holiday, from Mother’s Day to Christmas – when entire families come to eat. Fortunately, the restaurant can seat 180 diners, including families at large round tables with lazy Susans, those big turntables for sharing dishes.
In the meantime, the once-packed Canton Too (now open four decades) serves its limited clientele lunch and dinner daily, staying open till midnight most nights. The good news: You will always get a seat, the waiters are efficient, and the tea is hot. The better news: The food is excellent, especially for the price. While Ho Sang will tell you that theirs is a mixed Chinese menu, with Sichuan and Hong Kong style dishes, what Canton Too specializes in are tried-and-true Cantonese recipes, those familiar plates of chicken chow mein, sweet-and-sour pork, shrimp lo mein, barbecue ribs, egg rolls, etc.
Ho Sang says their most popular dishes are honey garlic chicken, sweet and sour chicken and pepper steak. We would have to add to that their excellent hot-and-sour soup, perfect veggie spring rolls, and a tasty new barbecue pork loin dish. And considering the amazingly low prices (lunch combos for $7 to $9, and for dinner a half duck for $11.75), there is little excuse not to take a red leather booth seat beneath a silk painting of a tiger at Canton Too.