Planta Queen (Toronto)

I don’t often have sushi in a restaurant whose menu isn’t entirely Japanese, but Planta Queen’s nigiri is so inventive that you should try it once. As the ahi watermelon ($5.25 for two) and unagi eggplant ($5.25 for two) are placed before us, I’m marveled by how much they look like lean tuna and mackerel. In reality, the consistency and taste doesn’t resemble fish – the watermelon has a strong ginger flavour and the eggplant a slight smokiness – yet, it also doesn’t taste like the fruit or vegetable it’s made from. It just works!

The ahi watermelon makes its way into the rainbow roll ($15) and spicy tuna roll ($15) as well. Of the two, the rainbow roll has more interest: the soft pressed watermelon paired with creamy avocado and mayo, crispy romaine, and a sliver of bright shiso leaf. The spicy tuna roll is fine, but relies a lot on the spicy aioli for flavour.

You wouldn’t want an entire order of gomae ($12.25) for yourself. Even though it’s essentially just boiled spinach tossed in a sesame dressing with crisped rice thrown on top, the nutty sauce is also what makes it fairly rich as well. Yet, when shared, it’s a nice way to start the meal or even to finish off with something refreshing.  

On the other hand, I could easily down an entire bowl of the mushroom dashi ($8.95). It’s everything you want during the winter: a warm bowl of rich consommé, enoki and shiitake mushrooms peppered throughout, and cubes of delicate tofu sitting at the bottom. It’s simple and heavenly.

Planta’s Hakka rice noodles ($17.50) doesn’t really taste like anything I’ve ever had at a Hakka restaurant, but it could easily grace the menu of a Thai establishment. The coconut green curry base has a lovely aroma and a hint of heat, but could use more salt. As it stands, the dish of rice noodles with tofu and Chinese broccoli (gai lan) was fine but didn’t overly excite.

The udon ($18.75) was a hundred times better. In this case, the rice noodles (since we were having the gluten free version) was tossed in truffle oil and coconut milk creating a creamy base that would make Alfredo weep. There’s no shortage of mushrooms in the dish and is finished off with some snow pea leaves for colour and freshness. Would this dish paired with a bowl of mushroom dashi be too much fungi for one person to handle? Challenge accepted.

In general, Planta Queen uses a lot of truffles, whether it be the infused oil or the real deal. Even the maitake mushroom fried rice ($28) comes with shaved truffle on top, which truthfully doesn’t add that much to the experience. Overall, I expected the dish to offer more – something bursting with wok hay and an umami essence galore. Instead, it was pretty average fried rice with shaved truffles on top.

After the heavier mains, we thought the lemon curd ($12.35) would be a lighter finish to the meal. It certainly was a refreshing end, but the combination of lemon custard with passion fruit gelato makes for such a tarte finish that I’m puckering up thinking of the bite. The meringue needed to be sweeter and the matcha powder dropped all together as the combination of acidic citrus with bitter powder wasn’t necessarily the greatest.

For those who are celiac, you’d be happy to know every dish in this post is celiac friendly and vegan. Planta Queen certainly has an impressive menu of options for various food sensitivities. Best yet, they’re actually tasty and makes you realize that Asian food could easily forgo all the meat, eggs, and gluten and still be fantastic. Mushroom dashi, until we meet again.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 180 Queen Street West 

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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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