Patois debuted July 5, 2015. The restaurant took the city by storm with its unique take on Jamaican-Chinese cuisine, based on owner/chef Craig Wong’s background.
On June 30, 2016, a fire broke out next door and caused the restaurant to close for just over a year due to extensive smoke and water damage.
Having reopened on August 8, 2017, Patois is back and better than ever.
Take a look:
Ivy Lam, Wong’s wife is a full-time hair and makeup artist, but she has a serious eye for design. She painstakingly made and designed the original Patois – from the Ming Dynasty-style chairs she hand-upholstered with bright tropical Hawaiian fabric to the bar made from a reclaimed bowling lane.
The bar, chairs and tables, including the “ghetto susan” that turned on skateboard wheels with an axis of a discharged bullet, are gone, but the old “Mom” sign that hung near the back came out unscathed. The skateboard table was redone, and the new bar – designed by Lam and built by Build It By Design – is sleek and glam with brass finishings.
New to the space: a mural done by graffiti artist Scieter that reads “Mista Chin,” the name locals call Wong when he goes back home to Jamaica.
Another sign of Patois’ return? The sexy tourist poster from the ’70s featuring a woman in the water in a see-through T-shirt, emblazoned with “JAMAICA” across the front.
Coming next week: the famous floaty sculpture!
Wong, also chef and owner of Jackpot Chicken Rice (a finalist for Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2017 by Air Canada enRoute) and Ting Irie, Dubai’s first Jamaican restaurant and lounge, is starting the menu off “with all of our classics, because all of our guests have favourites,” so welcome back Jerk Chicken Chow Mein ($19), Jamaican Patty Double Down ($7.50) and Kimchi Potstickers “Pierogi” Style ($12)!
While essentially the same dishes you’ve come to know and love, Wong and executive chef Jacky Lo have “updated so many aspects of the dishes” and new ones will be added, so there’s lots to look forward to.
The fire left the employees suddenly out of work. Wong and Lam rallied to get them something and launched Jackpot Chicken Rice at the Union Summer Market just four days after the fire. They paid for all the food and all sales went to the staff. A few months later, they opened a brick-and-mortar shop highlighting one of Wong’s favourite comfort foods – with his own twist, of course – on Spadina at Dundas.
Lam says the fire “gave us the opportunity to change, to modernize and update it.” She says, “We’ve grown as people. We wanted to do something that grew with us because times have changed.”
Don’t worry, it hasn’t changed too much. “Patois remains fun and vibrant at its core. We still wanted to be ‘tropical’ but showcasing Toronto.”
Wong, too, says, “Nothing but good things came from it.”
Celebrate the return of Patois (794 Dundas St. W.), open Tuesday to Saturday, 5 to 11 pm and Sunday 5 to 10 pm.
Check out our Facebook page for more photos of the new space and the dishes you know and love.