Little Sister (Toronto)

With an unassuming name like ‘Little Sister’, you may not expect the bold flavours showcased in the restaurant’s dishes. But, intense savoury, sweet and spicy combinations seems to be what Indonesian cuisine is all about - a region of Asian cuisine that’s under represented in Toronto. Truthfully, the dishes were reminiscent of the spicy and sour Thai combinations and aromatic savoury dishes of Malaysia I’ve tried before. But, that makes sense given Indonesia’s proximity to these countries, in terms of location and culture.

The ikan bumbu bali ($15.75) a spice encrusted fish (likely tilapia), was just cooked through arriving hot and flaky. Covered with a sweet tomato ragu and topped with crunchy pickled onions and daikon, this is a lighter dish, ideal for warm weather compared to curries or stir fries.

Apparently, we chose the sides well as I found the fish’s tangy sauce went nicely with the nasi gorgeng ($5.25), a dish that has a slightly spicier taste. The Indonesian fried rice is one of the most popular dishes in the country, so much so that it’s considered one of the national dishes.

At Little Sister, theirs was a bit oily, but the aromatic chili, garlic and shallot aroma more than made up for this. Julienned vegetables helped to add a subtle contrast against the grains of rice, while the sweet soy sauce toned down the chili. There was also another ingredient, perhaps fish sauce, that gave the rice a nice umami essence.

The spiciness of the watermelon salad ($7.50) was unexpected – boy do those finely chopped chilies add heat! Luckily, the watermelon, mint and basil helped to calm the sting and gave the dish a lighter property. The sambal vinaigrette, typically containing shrimp paste, fish sauce and a host of other aromatics, provided a savoury quality as well. Indeed, it’s a salad of many tastes.

With so many flavourful ingredients, dishes could easily become rich and overpowering. Little Sister finds a great balance amongst these intense flavours so that they work together and ensures milder proteins (such as the fish) isn’t masked. I only wish I had a chance to try more of their offerings as the menu sounds delicious! Alas, a return visit with a larger group is required, to replicate the actions of the Globe and Mail’s food critic, Chris Nuttall-Smith: order the entire menu.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2031 Yonge Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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