Toronto’s Most Authentic Shui Zhu 水煮肉片 or “Water Boiled Fish”

I’ve found myself on an eternal quest for hunting down the best ethnic eats that Toronto has to offer. I scour Yelp, and head to pockets of Toronto that I never even knew existed, all in the name of finding hidden secrets of tasty success! While on my quest, I find it rightfully just to share some of those secrets  – as a sort of public favor.

The secret I’m going to share is said to be the best you can get and it’s boiled up in Old House’s kitchen. The Old House is an assuming Northern Chinese restaurant residing on the outskirts of Toronto in the food-haven of Scarborough. (Photo via Flicker)
The Old HouseThe inside of this hideaway may not be easy on the eyes, but with the food that their dishing out, who cares! At first glance you’ll find a handful of tables, photos of their offerings adorning the walls, a TV playing a Chinese news station and then there is this sound of a fiery roar coming from the back of the house – a high cooking flame. As I sat there, I began to feel almost as if I were sitting in someone’s cozy and warm kitchen for a bite to eat.
IMG_9737I came for one thing and it was, Shui zhu otherwise known as, “Water Boiled Fish,” a Sichuan specialty that’s brimming with scorching chili peppers and tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns, but don’t run away yet! Shui zhu appears more daring than it lets on and for those brave enough to dip their chopstick into the bubbling bowl of chilies to fish out a delicate piece of buttery soft fish (or beef or pork) will be rewarded. You see, beneath all that spice lies a decadent bite that exudes the perfect amount of spice and tingling hot.
IMG_9738I urge you to go find the Old House, order up a bowl of shui zhu and know that you’re getting the most authentic that this city has to offer.

How It’s Prepared

-Shui zhu literally means, “water-cooked meat/fish slices”
– The dish begins by scorching a handful of small red chili peppers and heaping spoonfuls of Sichuan peppercorns in a wok until nose-tinglingly fragrant
-Next, wok some Napa cabbage, stems and place them in a large serving bowl.
-Then comes the shui zhu part- Boil some stock with a copious amount of doubanjiang (a spicy, salty paste made from fermented broad beans, soybeans, salt, rice, and various spices) and poach the fish or meat just enough to remove the rawness (20-30 sec) Add all to the serving bowl with the Napa cabbage
-Add the chili pepper and Sichuan peppercorns
– Bring a generous (…like a 1/2 cup or more!) amount of vegetable oil to nearly smoking point then douse it over the awaiting bowl and watch it come to a sizzle, toasting it to impart that Sichuan scorched chili taste.

How To Eat

Simply dip your chopsticks in and grab hold of a perfectly cooked piece of buttery soft fish (or beef or pork) that will literally melt in your mouth.

Also Good To Eat

IMG_9777Lamb Kebabs: Grilled to perfection with cumin
IMG_9778Stir Fried Pancake with Cabbage: This was delish! The stir fried pancake took on a texture similar to noodles.

Where To Find

The Old House Chinese Restaurant
Address: 3 Glen Watford Dr, Toronto, ON M1S 2B7
Phone:(416) 298-8986
Hours: Sunday-Saturday 11Am-10PM



3 thoughts on “Toronto’s Most Authentic Shui Zhu 水煮肉片 or “Water Boiled Fish”

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! For posting this! I have been looking for good sichuan in Toronto for ages! I live quite far away from Toronto, but will gladly go to Scarbs for this! I often go to Scarborough anyway for good Sri Lankan and Indo-Chinese.


    1. Glad to hear Choconutmeg! If you don’t mind me asking where are your go-to places for Sri Lankan and Indo-Chinese (I’ve been to the Hopper Hut) but have not tried Indo-Chinese (also called Hakka, correct?)

      PS Another great Sichuan restaurant in the GTA is located in Richmond Hill on Highway 7: Szechuan Legend

      505 Highway 7 E, Unit 91-92, Thornhill, ON L3T 7P6

      Lots of selections and the server was SO NICE and helpful, in fact, she helped us put together a traditional Szechuan meal for 2 and even taught us some Szechuan terms!!! If ordering the Water Boiled Fish, be sure to ask for Shui Zhu as they have a few boiling fish dishes okay!


      1. Sorry for my late response! We like “Royal Chinese Seafood Restaurant” for Indo-chinese. And yes, here in Toronto it is also called hakka, but I think it’s something of a misnomer, so I avoid the term 😛 For Sri Lankan, Babu’s is a fun adventure. It’s a bit dive-ey, and set up like a cafeteria (with no tables to eat there, just food displays) but is definitely interesting 🙂 Most of their curries are very flavourful, if a bit oily.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s