The Gist: NAO (stands for New and Old) has combined the elements of a traditional steakhouse with a modern décor and Asian twist on the menu. And while offering a bevvy of artisan steaks, non-meat lovers and those looking for lighter fare will be satisfied with a large variety of dishes to select from.
The sleek, rich décor is what we’ve come to know and love of restauranteurs and owners Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji. Along with Executive Chef/Partner Stuart Cameron and business partner Tim Foley, they have brought the steakhouse into the modern age, while honouring old traditions (some dishes are done tableside).
Grub: The menu is made of sharing plates that offer items you won’t find in your typical steakhouse - Binchotan Grilled Shishito Peppers ($9), Dungeness Crab Korokke ($15) and TÅgarashi Frites ($9).
Premium cuts of meat are the focus here, sourced from top producers both locally and globally including: A5 Kobe Beef (Japan), Single-pasture US Wagyu (Iowa), David Blackmore’s famous full-blood Wagyu (Australia) and USDA prime dry-aged a minimum of 40 days. You can also get a variety of hand-butchered larger that are then carved tableside, including a bone-in USDA prime Chateaubriand for two.
Asian-Pacific influences come way of dishes such as shiitake mushrooms barrel-aged in soy sauce, crispy homemade tofu coated in ground dry aged beef, beef tendon and red bean paste sauce, and creamed collardsprepared with kimchi and crispy shallots, as well as steak sauces made tableside.
And sodium intake be damned when you’ve got salt from Japan, a pink salt coloured by shrimps from the shores of the Philippines and Korean salt aged three years in bamboo, at your side.
Libations: A variety of 14 cocktails have been made with the food in mind. Mixologist Michael Garrett (Weslodge, Bar Isabel and Origin) blends them in 24k gold cocktail shakers and serves them in vintage glassware. Bitters, syrups and tonics are made in house. The Valet ($15) with Calvados Apple Brandy, Amaro Montenegro, fresh lemon juice, and orange-spiced simple syrup, is like a Sidecar only brighter, fruitier. The Arsonist’s Escape ($18) takes the margarita up a notch with an intense heat. Your heart with race – in a good way – with this combo of Tromba Tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and chipotle coriander syrup. A hearty list of wines and sakes have been selected by Sommeliers Stefanie Moir and Will Predhomme.
Deets: The former Boba 90 spot got a posh redo with two floors spread over a luscious 4032 sq. ft. 68 can be accommodated on the top floor, while the ground floor and bar seats 54 and come warm weather season, the patio of 75.
Fixtures & Fittings: The lush surroundings have been spared no expense. Super comfortable banquettes have been outfitted in Italian leather. Tables, trim and frames have been brushed and hand-rubber in bronze. Walls are covered in walnut, and stunning Bianco Venatino and Statuarietto marble are used throughout the space. What is most noticeable upon arrival, however, is 22 foot soaring ceiling in the main room, with a custom-made 9'6" x 9'6" chandelier of clear sporadic acrylic tubing, at its center.
Off the Menu: Though NAO is a steakhouse, a lot of seafood and vegetarian options are available as well. Just be sure not to fill up on the scrumptious complimentary green onion and miso bread.
Tuna Tartar ($22) is fresh and lively, accompanied by avocado, puffed rice and wasabi, all rapturously wrapped in wasabi leaf (butter lettuce pictured here). It gets mixed tableside by your server.
Kobe Beef ($40) is sliced achingly thin and drizzled with hot oil, fresh wasabi and ponzu. Creamy and rich, it’s decadent without being the slightest bit heavy.
Shredded Kale Salad ($13) gives the trendy ingredient a shot of heat and sass with pickled shiitake, fried shallots and spicy sesame dressing.
Whole Branzino ($45) is served in a gorgeous copper dish. Marinated in red yuzukoshÅ and finished with a luxurious ponzu brown butter, guaranteed you’ve never had fish like this.
Dry Aged 40+ Days USDA Prime 18 Oz Bone in Striploin ($75) is from Omaha, Nebraska. The tender, juicy steak arrives carved, topped with a light sprinkling of salt. It is accompanied by Bulldog Steak Sauce, made tableside out of a variety of ingredients including soy, green onions, and house-made ketchup.
Creamed Collards ($14) get a spicy kick thanks to a hearty addition of kimchi. Added crunch comes way of crispy shallots.
Seasonal Mushrooms ($14) are an array of shiitake, king oyster, chanterelle and hen of the woods on one visit. A combination of pickled, crispy and roasted fungi get dressed with rayu, a Chinese chili oil.
Yuzu Parfait ($10) features a sublime lemon curd, dotted with sea buckthorn, Hong Kong waffle tuile, and mango. It is one of the best reasons to save room for dessert. (p.s. Great minds think alike - Rumour has it that Drake came in a few weeks ago and loved it too.).
How Cool is This?! Local blacksmith Frederick Scanlen has created hand-forged, custom steak knives exclusively for NAO. He comes in every two weeks to sharpen them. Vintage glassware is used for all cocktails, so while you might order the same drink when you come back, your glass will be entirely different. The perfume in the women’s bathroom is so alluring, you’ll be tempted to make more than one trip to powder your nose. And they have valet service every operating night.
At the Stove: Executive Chef Stuart Cameron and Chef de Cuisine Andrew Bradford
FOH: General Manager Eoin Cullen
Head Honchos: Owners Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
Visiting Hours: Monday to Saturday 5pm – Close
Map It: 90 Avenue Rd.
Phone It In: (416) 367-4141
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