Fans of Asia’s wildly diverse cuisines find happiness dining at restaurants in Markham. The best Markham restaurants offer authentic dishes brought over by immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and beyond.
Located a short drive north of downtown Toronto, Markham is famously known as the home of the best Asian restaurants in Ontario. Celebrated NYC Chef David Chang (Momofuku Noodle) even paid a visit to a Chinese restaurant in Markham in his show Ugly Delicious on Netflix.
I grew up in Markham. My fond suburban childhood memories include a joyous parade at the annual Unionville Festival, an outrageous amount of cotton candy and funnel cakes consumed at the spectacular Markham Fair, and sweet summers spent strolling along Toogood Pond.
After finishing Grade 7 my family moved to Oakville and since we didn’t have any extended family in town I hadn’t had an opportunity to return to my roots until recently. Always keen to explore foodie destinations a short day trip from Toronto I was eager to return to Markham to taste my way through the city’s restaurants. The region is now famous for its culturally diverse community, playing home to some of Canada’s best Asian restaurants.
Markham Restaurants: Explore Asian Cuisine
I spent weeks researching Markham’s finest Asian fare, asking fellow food writers and passionate dim sum-loving locals about their must-try restaurants. Renee Suen is a Toronto-based food and travel writer who in the past has acted as a judge for the Chinese Restaurant Awards. Suen is my go-to expert on regional Asian cuisines so I asked her what advice she’d give to foodies keen to explore restaurants in Markham for the first time:
“The easiest is to go with someone who’s familiar with the area. Although you can order off the menu, there are still many places with menus that are written in Chinese on the wall or in menu inserts. There are even “secret” or VIP menus/dishes that are only available to those in the know. A great example would be King of Kings Barbecue Pork, an off-menu specialty at John’s BBQ. I first wrote about it for Toronto Life years ago, and we awarded it for the first Chinese Restaurant Awards, and if you didn’t know to specifically order it by name, you could be dining on the regular iteration.
Get Adventurous at Markham’s Asian Restaurants
She adds, “It’s also important to just be open and try new things. Don’t be scared, even if the menu translation doesn’t make sense, to order something that a neighbouring table has ordered that looks delicious or smells incredible. You won’t know until you taste it. The one thing to embrace about the GTA’s Chinese food scene is that we have a great representation of the country’s regional cuisines (stronger in Northern Chinese), which means not every restaurant would have the same dishes or specialties. So keep an open mind (and palate) when heading to a restaurant because you don’t know what you might encounter that would both surprise and delight.”
Where to Stay When Eating in Markham
While you can always plan an easy day trip to Markham from Toronto I was keen to dive head first into the dining scene, visiting 14 restaurants over a weekend. I stayed in a suite at the centrally located Hilton Markham and planned an itinerary that would have me “shopping plaza hopping,” to the city’s best kept secrets.
Markham must be Canada’s Bubble Tea capital, with every corner of town offering the popular Taiwanese slurp, and plays host to a finger-licking-good collection of Malaysian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Chinese and contemporary concepts.
Whether you’re in Markham visiting family and friends, in town for a business trip, or a Toronto foodie looking to organize an epic Asian eats binge, here are 14 spots worth tucking into.
Best Asian Restaurants in Markham
When people think about where to eat in Markham, delicious Asian feasts instantly come to mind. Markham’s diverse Asian restaurant scene offers Taiwanese Bubble Tea, Japanese Souffle Pancakes, All-You-Can-Eat Sushi, Szechuan Hot Pot, Cantonese Dim Sum, Hong Kong-style waffles with ice cream, wonton soup, hand-pulled noodles, Bejing roasted duck, Japanese mochi, Taipei fried chicken, Vietnamese coffee, Korean katsu burger and Malysian laksa.
144 Main St N #17, 905-554-1666
Owner’s Justin Wong and Kevin Lo opened Azyun Restaurant in January, 2018.
Located in a heritage building along Markham’s Main Street, Azyun Restaurant was at one point used as a community jailhouse. Wong explains, “We have old newspaper clippings that we discovered in a vault in the basement that date back to the 1940s.”
Wong and Lo worked with Ark Group Construction in designing the interior of Azyun Restaurant. Wong adds, “Our goal was to offer a minimalistic yet dynamic space for people to dine in Markham. The first thing you will notice when you step into the restaurant is the themed black interior. We built scattered wood panels on our back wall with covered LED panels to give the restaurant an added warmth and cosiness. Our restaurant mascot and very much part of the decor is a Bearbrick Manekineko Cat, which stands by the bar and greets guests at the entrance.”
Chef Justin Wong has worked in the kitchens of Mark McEwan, Nigel Didcock and Pedro Pereira. His Azyun Restaurant menu offers a unique take on modern Chinese cuisine that is both pretty and playful.
- Chilled Noodle: Indonesian sweet soy, chilli, sesame oil
- Pork Belly Bao: salted mustard greens, cucumber, garlic mayo
- Silken Tofu: snow pea tip, dried scallop, smoked ham, shiitake
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken: adobo brined, house hot sauce
- Truffle Fried Rice: snow pea tip, mushrooms, poached egg, grape
144 Main St N #1, 905-554-2889
Inspire Restaurant first opened its doors in June, 2014. Ranked as one of the best Markham restaurants, Inspire is owned by Vanessa Ho, Carlton Chung and Evelyn Wong.
Inspire Restaurant is located in a heritage building in the heart of Main Street Markham. The restaurant’s space was originally used to house horses.
The restaurant’s design was the brainchild of Executive Chef and Owner, Carlton Chung. Ho adds, “In the front seating area by the window, the entire cove is surrounded by small wood blocks put together by us by hand. It took us two whole days to complete. The blocks were end cuts from our construction and were about to be discarded so we decided to refashion them into the decor.”
So what’s cooking in the Inspire Restaurant kitchen? Ho explains, “Our chef and owner is of Hakka Chinese heritage, he was born and raised in Calcutta, India. His family comes from a long line of restaurateurs. When they immigrated to Canada, his first job was at a fast food restaurant. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Wag your finger down the Inspire restaurant menu and you’ll find local products including duck from King Cole, Simpson’s Produce for potatoes and Bondi and A.J Lazaretto who supply fresh Ontario produce. Craft beer fans take note, “All of our beers are Ontario craft beers. Currently we are featuring Beau’s Brewery from Ottawa, Market Brewery in Newmarket as well as Junction Brewery in downtown Toronto,” says Ho.
- Duck Tacos: duck confit, jicama orange salsa, feta duck egg curried mayo, flour tortilla
- Kimchi Caesar: applewood smoked bacon, avocado, napa, furikake, wasabi peas, greens, crostini, charred sweet corn
- The OG Insp Burger: prime beef, seared pork belly, American cheddar, tarragon aioli, fried egg
- Torched Salmon Rice: k-soy marinated aburi salmon, coconut rice, enoki napa ponzu, fired roasted tomatoes, furikake, sesame seeds
- Shiitake Udon Carbonara: spicy Italian sausage, braised beef, creamy shiitake, seasonal mushrooms, parmesan, quail egg
3760 Highway 7 East, 365-608-5333
Hutaoli Toronto is the first international outpost of the popular Chinese music restaurant brand. Located in Markham, Hutaoli Toronto is often described as a Chinese version of the Hard Rock Cafe.
Decor in the Hutaoli Toronto dinning room evokes an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe that eludes to a magical forest, filled with overhanging vines, backlit bonsai trees, and suspended and exposed light bulbs. Hutaoli in Markham offers a plethora of seating options, from intimate private dinning rooms, elevated cozy booths and tables up close to the live music action.
The Hutaoli Toronto menu focuses on celebrating spicy Sichuan cuisine. Highlights include the restaurants signature House-Special Roast Chicken, Spicy Stir-Fry Shrimp, Mapo Tofu, Smoked Duck, and Fried Cauliflower with Chinese Bacon.
Hutaoli Music Restaurant & Bar’s authentic Chinese dishes and uniquely entertaining atmosphere make it one of the best Asian restaurants in Markham.
8384 Woodbine Ave, 905-604-3188
With 6,000 worldwide locations, China’s biggest fast food chain – Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice has finally arrived in the GTA. Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice launched its first Canadian restaurant in Toronto. Soon afterwards it opened 7 other locations across Ontario including a Markham restaurant on Woodbine Avenue.
Braised chicken rice is Chinese-style fast food at an affordable price. Every order is simple, containing one pot of tender braised chicken mixed with crunchy vegetables, served with rice on the side.
Xiao Lu Yang, founder of Yang’s Braised Chicken Rice explains, “What makes this braised chicken recipe special is the sauce. It was created by my great grandma in the 1830s. My parents said she always cooked it during special occasions. As the fifth generation to inherit this recipe, I put a little bit of my own twist to it, adding mushrooms to enhance the notes of umami.”
In addition to Yang’s signature dish, Canadian outlets also offer a selection of appertizers. Highlights include Celery and Pig Ear in Garlic Soy Sauce, Shredded Potato Salad with Chili, Taiwanese Style Sausages and Deep Fried Tofu with Garlic Sauce.
Kennedy Square at 8360 Kennedy Road, 905-944-0784
Coco Fresh Tea is the world’s most popular Bubble Tea brand. Originally opened in Taipei in 1997, the refreshing thirst-quenching concept now has over 2000 stores around the globe. In an effort to familiarize ourselves with Coco’s extensive menu we sipped our way through five of their most popular drinks with favourites including Red Bean Match Milk Tea, Sago Taro Milk Tea, and Black Tea Macchiato.
Markham Town Square Plaza at 3760 York Regional Road 7, 905-604-9060
Located in Markham Town Square Plaza, the always popular Wonton Hut offers a cheap and cheerful dining room which specializes in Shrimp Wonton Lo Mein Soup. The dish whizzes out of the open kitchen in just two minutes, offering a massive bowl of steaming broth topped with plump wonton dumplings filled with fresh shrimp. Jazz up your bowl with classic condiments such as red vinegar, homemade chili oil, and soy sauce and slurp to your hearts content. As far as Markham restaurants go, Wonton Hut is your best bet for dumpling noodle soup.
Pacific Mall at 4300 Steeles Avenue East, 416-591-0555
No trip to Markham is complete without a stroll through the Pacific Mall. If you’ve got a sweet tooth hop in line at Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake and take home the bake shops two signature sweets: a fluffy cheesecake and box of massive Honey Madeleine’s. While you wait in line enjoy a moment of culinary theatre as a choir of bakers whirl and twirl as they prepare thousands of cakes in the shops open concept kitchen. Uncle Tetsu’s is famous for catering to long lines so bring your patience. It’s well worth the wait as it’s the best Markham restaurant for cake lovers.
Pacific Mall at 4300 Steeles Avenue, 905-947-8463
Head upstairs to the Pacific Mall’s second floor and you’ll find an epic food court. Sun’s Kitchen is probably the mall’s most famous tenant as fresh Chinese noodles are prepared live in front of your very eyes. Skilled noodle experts thwack a log of dough against a lightly floured counter, then roll it out, pulling the dough between their fingers to create a web of noodles which are quickly dropped into a boiling pot. Sun’s classic noodle soup is served with steamed bok choy and your choice of BBQ duck, seafood, wonton, or roast pork. Sun’s Kitchen is the best restaurant in Markham for noodle theatre and a steaming bowl of broth.
Pacific Mall at 4300 Steeles Avenue, 905-470-9112
Skip across the food court and you’ll find Hot Star, a popular fast food fried chicken concept from Taiwan. Hot Star’s signature dish is the “original large fried chicken,” which you can have spiced with pepper salt, spicy, seaweed or, plum. I opted for the gigantic cheese stuffed chicken, which pulls apart to reveal a stream of ooey gooey fromage! Hot Star is the best restaurant in Markham to satisfy your fried chicken craving.
Pacific Mall at 4300 Steeles Avenue, 647-447-0097
If you’re looking for a mid-day pick me up head to Dak Lak, the Pacific Mall’s petite cafe specializing in Vietnamese coffee. The ladies who run the shop import Vietnamese beans, which they brew and muddle with condensed milk just like back home in Saigon. The cafe has now opened its second location in Toronto at 283 College Street.
3517 Kennedy Road, 416-321-8866
A team of Korean culinary geniuses are behind the wildly popular Fat Ninja Bite. Locals comes here for the jaw-dropping Chicken Katsu Burger, an Asian fusion masterpiece featuring an oversized crispy chicken cutlet topped with tomatoes, lettuce, slaw, red onion, pickles, Japanese mayo and sweet Katsu sauce. The bloated burger is the most instagram-worthy dish we found in Markham’s restaurant scene.
3160 Steeles Avenue East, 905-604-4055
If Markham had a best kept secret it would be the hidden from view, Japanese courtyard that sits perched over Steeles Avenue. Stroll through the space and you’ll find a variety of Japanese owned businesses: Japanese grocer, Izakaya, green tea lounge, Japanese tableware outfit and one-of-a-kind pastry shop. Pop by Sasaki Fine Pastry and you’ll find row upon row of brightly coloured mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake prepared with glutinous rice dough that is filled with flavours such as sesame, matcha, strawberry and mango. Sasaki Fine Pastry is by far the best restaurant in Markham to sample Japanese mochi.
Malay Thai Famous Cuisine
First Markham Place at 3255 Highway 7 East, 905-948-1628
Drive over to First Markham Place and you’ll find one of Markham’s most popular Asian food courts. Malay Thai is owned by a Malaysian family who offer classic dishes you’d find at hawker stalls in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Their most famous offering is a massive bowl of Chicken Laksa, a spicy coconut soup featuring rice noodles, fish cake and deep fried tofu.
First Markham Place at 3235 Hwy 7, 905-6044-5023
Also located in First Markham Place, you’ll likely find a long line snaking out the door at KaKa All You Can Eat. The always buzzing AYCE sushi restaurant offers high quality classics such as crispy gyoza, thinly sliced beef tataki, shrimp tempura topped ramen bowls, and a parade of pretty maki. Be sure to order a selection of KaKa’s signature torched sushi and Oshizushi (pressed sushi with combinations such as salmon, serrano pepper, and Kaka sauce). Searching for Markham restaurants that specialize in all you can eat sushi? KaKa is the clear favourite in Markham sushi land so be sure to book your reservation in advance. Kaka Toronto has opened a second location at Bay and Dundas.
8601 Warden Avenue, 905-948-1618
If your a diehard dim sum fan head to Casa Victoria to indulge in Markham’s most elegant Cantonese brunch tradition. As soon as you step in the door you’re wowed by the grand space featuring Italian granite flooring, crystal chandeliers, floor to ceiling marble pillars, and luxurious drapery. The popular Chinese restaurants offers a dim sum menu that stands out. The kitchen uses high quality ingredients and techniques, which you appreciate with each bite. When our basket of Siu Mai (shrimp and pork dumplings) arrived at the table our eyes bulged as they were twice the size of what you’d normally see at other establishments. Other highlights include roast pork stuffed rice rolls, chicken and ginger buns, and finger-licking-good honey spareribs. If you’ve only got time to visit one dim sum restaurant in Markham make it Casa Victoria.
20 Gibson Drive, 905-604-8680
The best spot to indulge in the Chinese capital’s tradition of devouring roast duck is at Dayali Beijing Roast Duck. The table is classically set with sliced scallions, cucumbers, Chinese pancakes, and hoisin. When a mountain of crispy roast duck arrives at the table enjoy a DIY dinner wrapped up in a warm crepe. The amount of time and care that goes into roasting each duck at Dayali makes it a perfect take out treat. And after non-stop eating through the best Markham restaurants a crispy duck in the fridge offers a weeks worth of lunching.