The Gist: Owner/Chef Craig Wong is Chinese but calls himself Canadian. His parents grew up in Jamaica, going back 3 generations (1% of people living in Jamaica are Chinese, says Wong). Caribbean Asian soul food is tropical of his background. This is the kind of food he grew up eating in Scarborough/Agincourt, though he ended up working in mostly fine-dining French restaurants before this.
Grub: "I am influenced by Alain Ducasse and Fat Duck as Shawarma Empire and Johnny Burger." A mashup of Jamaican and Chinese flavours and ingredients, the food is bold, enticing and achingly good.
Chef recommends The Whole Shebang ($99.99) of all ten items. “It’s fulfilling as a chef to have people eat the entire menu. I feel like a kid. I love cooking” Dishes range from Jamaican Patty Double Down, Kimchi Potstickers “Pierogi Style,” Ackee N’ Saltfish and Dirty Fried Rice for dinner.
For Sunday Brunch, choose from fun selections such as Fried Chicken and Hong Kong Waffle ($13.50), Quinoa Breakfast Fried Rice ($11) and Patois Eggs Benny ($13) with 2 Cocktail beef patties, poached eggs, Jerk Mortadella, Hollandaise, and watercress green salad.
Libations: The warm breeze of the islands can be felt by the tropical drinks here, whether you partake in a Patois Shandy ($9) Spearhead Hawaiian Pale Ale, Ting, and lemon; or Trade Winds ($12) Gosling's Black Rum, Chinese five-spice, and ginger beer.
‘Hood: Dundas West, between Markham and Palmerston.
Deets: There are 65 seats in total but many are different, depending upon where you sit – bar, the round table (see below), high tops near the back. There's even a section of the dining area, painted in deep green, that is off by itself and elevated a bit. Finally, you can dine like a king or queen.
Fixtures & Fittings: Where to start? The former old dusty flower shop was transformed by Wong and best friend/wife Ivy with fascinating and usual items.
Take the bar, for instance. It's made of a reclaimed bowling lane. And wait until you find out where the legs are from (details in a bit).
Wong wanted a Chinese round table with lazy susan in the middle, just like every Chinese restaurant has. It's where the whole family sits together and there's no head of the table. He calls it the "ghetto susan" as it turns on skateboard wheels and the axis is a discharged bullet. With Ming Dynasty-style chairs that Ivy reupholstered with a brightly coloured Hawaiian fabric, it is one of the most original tables you’ll ever dine in.
And let’s not forget that sexy Jamaica tourist poster from the 70s. The one of the woman in the water in a see-thru t-shirt with Jamaica emblazoned across the front. This is also an homage to Wong’s upbringing. “Every aunt and uncle had it up in their home.”
Off the Menu: Juicy Jerk Chicken ($17 full order / $11 half) went through a number of changes from the first batch to even day 10. It was complex – dry brining for a day, air-drying, marinating, The churrasco rotisserie method delivers succulent meat every time. Try the Jerk Chicken Chow Mein ($15), served with ripped, juicy chicken pieces, mushrooms, bean sprouts and cilantro atop crispy Hong Kong noodles. And just watch as you finish off the entire huge portion in one sitting.
Crispy Green Beans ($15) are lightly battered with tempura and then deep-fried. Intermingled with crunchy nori and furikake, a dried fish seasoning, and served with a sensuous miso dip on the side, these beans are as addictive as potato chips. Thankfully, these will give your your daily vegetable intake at the same time.
Seaweed Waldorf Salad ($8) is a modern take on the classic. Wong makes it livelier and lighter than the iconic hotel or Fawlty Towers version, with a base of watercress, long batons of crisp green apple, grapes, celery, and meaty walnuts, all delicately dressed in creamy sesame.
How Cool Is This?! It doesn't get much more extraordinary than the table legs for the bar are made from the pipes used to carry the fake blood used on the set of "Carrie." But the discharged bullet is pretty amazing too. And the quintessential paper Chinese takeout bags? The perfect finishing touch.
At the Stove: Chef/Owner Craig Wong, Sous Chef Aiden Tranquada.
Head Honchos: Craig Wong and his wife, Ivy Lam.
Wednesday to Saturday 5-11pm
Sunday (Brunch 11-3pm Walk-in, No Reservations), Dinner 5-10pm
Map It: 794 Dundas Street West
Phone It In: (647) 350-8999