The Gist: Owner Victor Xie, 25, opened Wonder Chicken, his first restaurant just before Christmas. Taiwanese chicken, pork, and snacks make up the small menu.
"I was interested in cooking even when I was young." During university at nearby U of T, "I worked every position in restaurants and tea shops."
Xie turned his passion into a career when he realized he wanted to work for himself.
"The recipes are mine. I taught the chef full time. I'm full-time to but don't need to cook all the time."
Grub: Taiwanese fried chicken is a hot trend these days. Xie builds on that street food/night market trend with his "premium bento box" concept.
"This is premium fast food. We do not use preservatives, additives or MSG. We buy whole chicken pieces, hand cut, hand batter and fry to order," Xie says. He uses boneless chicken, so it’s a bit more expensive than other Taiwanese chicken.
But he insists his is the authentic version. "It’s hard to find authentic here in Toronto."
The breading is a secret recipe that he’s not ready to share, but will say that it’s very light.
Braised Chicken Leg with fresh basil is "usually called 3-cup chicken in Chinese restaurants, he says. "They don't use basil or sesame oil - we do it the authentic way."
Chicken is marinated using a vacuum tumbler – marinating the meat for 30 minutes to1 hour equals marinating for 24 hours, covering it evenly.
Libations: Xie says alcohol is not suitable here, so instead canned soft drinks ($1.49), juice ($2.49), bottled water ($1.49) and bubble teas ($3.49-$3.99) are available.
Deets: Xie chose the neighbourhood because it’s "quiet and close to U of T where I studied (environmental chemistry)."
20 seats for dine in. Take out and delivery also available.
Fixtures & Fittings: The former cafe still has a cafe feel thanks to old- fashioned scenic artscapes and antique-style clock on the exposed brick wall. Floor, tables and chairs are all new. A fresh paint job, along with a new counter and kitchen equipment, complete the casual spot.
Off the Menu: All meals are served with rice, bean sprouts, seaweed salad and radish. Dipping sauces include homemade thousand island, ketchup and sriracha.
Wonder Chicken Cutlet ($7.99 chicken only/$9.99 meal) features flattened chicken breast, marinated in using green onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, white pepper, salt and other secret ingredients and coated in light salty breading. The crispy coating gives way to moist white meat.
Popcorn Chicken ($6.99 chicken only/$8.99 meal) is breaded dark chicken meat pieces. The breading is the same as the cutlet above, but the marinade is different (garlic, ginger, soy sauce, cinnamon powder, white pepper, salt, egg and other secret ingredients).
Taiwanese Sausage ($4.99 sausage only/$8.99 meal). This air-dried sausage is made with of pork, cinnamon, granulated garlic and rice wine. It’s juicy and sweet and served sliced.
Braised Chicken Leg with fresh basil ($8.49 meal). Chicken legs are cut and braised in sesame oil, rice wine, and soy sauce, finished with fresh basil.
Braised Premium Pork Belly ($8.49 meal). Also a signature dish from Taiwan, small cubes of moist pork belly are braised in soy sauce, 5 spices, white pepper and full cloves of soft garlic.
Visiting Hours: Sun to Thurs: 11am – 9:30pm
Fri & Sat: 11am – 10:30pm
Map It: 96 Harbord St. (near Spadina)
Phone It In: (647) 360-3694
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