Reviewing - Dining at The Willow (Orillia, Ontario)

9:10:00 PM

Just this past week, I took the entire family north of Toronto to go see the fall red leaves that normally happen between late September to early October of every year. It is quite a sight to see the trees in these colours and perhaps a very popular Asian culture tradition (to see "red" = fortune, fame, richness). From time to time, I do get invitations from restaurants in Toronto to try out their cusines. However, I received an invitation to visit "The Willow" up in Orilla! Naturely, I was curious about this place. My foodie colleague mentioned that this was one of the best Asian tasting restaurants up north if you were in the area. With my plans to head north into the wildness of Algonquin Ontario, visiting The Willow was a perfect pit stop along the way! Too long of a car ride would drive the kids/baby crazy ...

Atmosphere:
The restaurant for the Willow was located within the gambling areas of Casino Rama. As such, you had to be 19 and up to get pass the security area. The Willow was located at one of the corners of the gambling floor. From some quick observations, there were many Chinese asians gambling (80%+) and the idea of a Chinese restaurant was definitely appropriate for the crowds. The staff had indicated that there was a recent renovation of this place with the restaurant looking smaller than before but with slick modern decor. There were booth seatings along one side of the restaurant with open tables on the other side. Overall, the decor was modern stylish with lots of theme accents on ancient Chinese relics.

The restaurant was very busy for dinner service on a Saturday and I was very fortunate to get a table reserved for the night.

Service:
Raymond, the manager of the Willow restaurant, was very attentive and explained the possibility of ordering any special Asian vegetables from off the menu. In addition, there were specialty items off the menu including whole abalone, superior shark’s fin, sea cucumber and fish maw hot pot. Overall, the staff were very supportive and quick with bringing their dishes.

Food:
Before the renovations of this restaurant, this restaurant had a buffet option which was no longer available. Currently, they revamped their menu offering a-la-carte options. Also to note, this restaurant was rated top tier by Rama and geared towards intimate dining. Overall, the a-la-carte menu had many of the traditional Cantonese style dishes that you could find in any upscale asian establishments including fresh seafood (ex. crab, lobsters, bass fish, etc).

For dinner, we got the following items:

  • Half Peking Duck
  • BBQ Eel Egg Tofu
  • Oyster Live
  • Salt and Pepper Squid
  • Tofu Egg with Soup
  • Roast Duck (Snack Size)
  • Black Cod Garlic (hot pot)
  • Custard Mango for Dessert
Verdict:
From trying a wide selection of dishes, my family and I were actually quite surprised at the quality of the dishes.  They were seasoned well and brought to the table in a reasonable time. Honestly, I didn't think there was a good asian restaurant up north especially in Orillia! This place had proven me wrong! The Peking Duck and Roasted Duck were amazing and delicious with crispy sweet skin and juicy meat cuts. The presentation of the Salt and Pepper Squid was different from the typical asian restaurant in Toronto but overall taste was satisfied. Overall, if you want high quality Cantonese style dishes, this restaurant would be perfect for you.


Reviewer:Eating With Gordon
Visit Date: September 2017
Food Rating: 4/5
Service Rating: 4/5

Food Photos:
Roasted Duck!
Salt and Pepper Squid - wished there was more quantity

Oyster with Garlic Sauce

Black God Garlic Hot Pot dish

Custard Mango


Non-Food Photos:
Main Entrance to the Willow Restaurant within the Gambling Arena
Nice shelf rack for Ancient Chinese Pottery Relics

Seating on the Side

Name:The Willow
Price Range:$$$
Cuisine:Cantonese Cuisine
Address:5899 Rama Rd, Rama, ON L3V 6H6
Phone:1 800-832-7529
Menu URL:
Website:        https://www.casinorama.com/Dine/The-Willow.aspx
Hours:
Sunday4PM–12AM
Monday4PM–12AM
Tuesday4PM–12AM
Wednesday4PM–12AM
Thursday4PM–12AM
Friday4PM–12AM
Saturday4PM–12AM
Map:


Disclaimer: Casino Rama invited me to try out the Willow restaurant in Orilla with lodging. All food opinions are of my own.

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