Showing posts with label oyster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oyster. Show all posts

Dreyfus (Toronto)


On my last two visits to Montreal, I’ve tried to secure a reservation at Joe Beef with no luck. Not even when I offered to go on a waiting list - the famed restaurant could never fit me in. Consequently, when I heard their chef de cuisine, Zach Kolomeir, was leaving Montreal to head to Toronto to open Dreyfus, there was hope that I’d finally try their no-nonsense French creations.

A group of girlfriends and I tried to get a reservation at Dreyfus; once again, securing a table for four was impossible. So, I finally changed tactics and decided to visit with my husband instead. Finally, I was able to secure a Saturday sitting without a hitch. Sure, it took half a year, but I was finally on my way.

Once you see the dining room, it’s understandable why acquiring a spot for more than two people is so difficult.  There’s only two larger tables in the whole place and then a row of singles that I guess could be pushed together to form larger tables, but for whatever reason are kept separate. It’s very intimate seating – you will over hear your neighbours’ conversation and most likely need to push your table to touch theirs to get in and out if you’re seated on the bench.

In a nutshell, the restaurant is cozy. This goes for the esthetics, temperature, and service. Your experience will be elevated if you’re served by Keegan deWitt. It’s rare that I try to figure out who our server is, but this guy is AMAZING – Dreyfus, do whatever you need to keep him. Keegan exudes passion without being preachy, is attentive without being annoying, and his knowledge of wine puts most sommeliers to shame.

In fact, a love for a wine is an important quality for working at Dreyfus. They don’t have a wine menu. In fact, there’s no drink menu period. So, our first interactions with Keegan revolved around what we wanted to drink: flat water and a bottle of wine.

We answered a few questions and he comes back with four bottles. In a succinct two-minute presentation, he goes through each bottle explaining their flavour profiles and the wine’s region, ending off with the cost of each one. Prices vary from $85 to $250 and we decide on the Domaine Viret Mareotis ($125). The first sip confirmed that Keegan got us.

So, when he came back to ask what we wanted to order and provided us the option of letting him ‘bring us an experience’, how could we resist? Again, he asked a couple of questions about dietary restrictions and how hungry we were on a scale from 1-10 (a 7 seemed safe) and that’s all we had to do.

It helps as they tailor the size of the starting nibbles to the table. Normally, the first three dishes are $16 each (unclear how many come with each), but for our table of two it was trimmed down to a smaller portion of one or two each (the perfect amount) and the prices also lowered to $12.

The canapes de topinambours ($12 for 2) went so well with the wine. Roasted Jerusalem artichokes forms the base of the canapes, instead of bread, giving the dish a creamy finish and a warmth that’s so lovely for the winter months. Forget trying to hold this in your hand as the artichoke is smothered with light tangy cheese and a warmed sardine that adds a nice muskiness against the slice of ham on top.


There were spinach dip oysters ($12 for 2) topped with feathery parmesan cheese, a dish that sounds heavy but actually quite nicely balanced. Oysters aren’t normally something I enjoy, but the mollusk was covered with so many things that it didn’t have a prominent in taste.


You can’t go wrong with the pommes dauphine ($12 for 4). These lovely potato puffs are as light as air – like a savoury honey cruller for those who have been around a Tim Horton’s. They’re fluffy and aromatic, by itself a delicate and creamy choux pastry, but arrives with thick crème fraiche topped with micro cubes of shallots and a generous portion of caviar. It takes the dauphine to a whole other level of decadence that made us swoon.


A skewer arrives and we’re advised the white chunks in the brochette de lotte ($24) are monkfish. The dense meaty fish was tasty, but perhaps could be cooked a touch less. Yet, any mild protein that sits in such a tasty sauce could do no wrong. It’s described to us as curry, but so light that it reminds me of a thicker and richer bouillabaisse. We must have been looking at the remaining sauce longingly, as a staff member asked if we’d like some bread, which was met with a resounding yes.


While I don’t know a lot of French, one word I do remember is cheval - on account of religiously visiting the now defunct Toronto night club. So, when the tower of filet de cheval lyonnaise ($33) arrived, I pushed thoughts of My Little Pony out of my mind and decided to just enjoy the dish. To be honest, if you didn’t know what cheval means, you’d think its veal or a light beef that’s tender and lean. The silky red wine jus keeps any gaminess at bay.


Dreyfus knows their way around a spud as the lyonnaise potatoes sandwiched between the cheval and the egg are heavenly. Essentially, they are thinly sliced potatoes that’s pan fried in parsley butter (forming lovely toasted edges) and mixed with well-caramelized onions. Just imagine scalloped potatoes, but even better, in my opinion. Mixed with some egg yolk and au jus, I probably could have a plate of the potatoes with eggs and been a happy camper.


To end, this main is smartly paired with an endive salad ($17). Dreyfus’ version of a Waldorf salad, the dish is one I normally detest - fruit (apple) mixed with nuts (walnuts) and topped with a blue cheese dressing? Yuk! Maybe it was the warm wine flowing through my veins, but it all worked together, including the thinned blue cheese dressing that adds tang without funk. Plus, the rosettes of curled cheese were so nice and creamy that I had a second and third helping.


After everything came, we assessed and indeed Keegan was true to his word – at the beginning he noted he’d make sure we’re satisfied but not disgustingly full. Rejoice, there was still room for dessert.

Once again, there’s no menu, instead another server explains she’s the walking dessert menu and lists off three options. The pear strudel ($11) sounded rather plain, but seemed like a dish I’d enjoy. Oh boy, did I enjoy it!


It took a while to arrive because it was being reheated and/or cooked. My first taste: crispy layers of phyllo pastry, warm chunks of cinnamon tossed pears, and creamy whipped cream. It was heavenly, the dessert I didn’t know I wanted to myself. My husband must have sensed something… after a few bites, he smartly left the remaining strudel with me.  

Find a lover or a buddy, hell, even a stranger off the street. Just book a reservation for two at Dreyfus! Whatever you do, do not visit with more than three people as you’ll be squished into a booth at the front of the restaurant that makes a sardine can look spacious; looking at the three couples packed in the table gave me shudders as I flashed back to an unfortunate incident at Grey Gardens.

Also, visit with an empty stomach and an open mind. And, there should be a level of trust as dining omakase style is the way to go. Just don’t be a hero and think you’ll share the strudel, that decision was the only mishap of the evening.

Overall mark - 9 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 96 Harbord Street


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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The Chase (Toronto)


Being a Toronto Life Insider has its perks. As a foodie, members can attend R&D dinners where restaurants offer a special menu, often showcasing new dishes to come. It was almost comical when dozens of us descended downtown, on a snowy Sunday evening, to visit The Chase to try their spring menu. With the blanket of snow pelting the city, it certainly didn’t feel like spring.

The 7-course menu ($155) included wine pairings from producers across Ontario, including a focus on Big Head, a little known winery from Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was excited for the evening… we were surely in for a treat given the restaurant is known for its luxurious menus drawing corporate crowds flushed with spending accounts.

Indeed, our first bites fit the bill: a truffle beignet and raw oyster. The beignet is nothing like the puffy pastry from New Orleans, instead akin to a savoury crispy falafel. The truffle scent floods the mouth with a bit of creamy freshness from the crème fraiche and chervil.


This was followed with a single smoked oyster - Taylor notes spring is a great time to enjoy the seafood as the waters are still cold. The smoked oyster was in fact refreshing, especially after the heavier truffle falafel. It was simply flavoured with a wild onion mignonette that had just a hint of spiciness to tingle the tongue. Generally, mignonette can be heavy on the vinegar. At Chase, the condiment is balanced with Chardonnay so the tanginess is mellowed and melds better with the seafood’s natural briny juices.


The shrimp and grit’s aroma proceeds the actual dish… if only I could capture the smell to share with you. Taylor explains it’s a dish he’s been tinkering with for years to really highlight his commitment in using ingredients that can be sourced within 100km of the city. K2 Milling’s red crow grits sits in a sea buckthorn hot sauce, rosemary oil and pork stock; each grain filled with so many flavours, then taken to another level with chunks of melt-in-your-mouth smoked pork hock strewn throughout.


Crowning the dish was a single shrimp grown in Stratford, Ontario, the local farm raising Pacific white shrimp sustainably. The sustainability theme is in each element of the dish – even the garnish of deep fried wild onion roots, which adds a delicious sweetness instead of getting wasted.

A dish that looks like spring is the bison. Indeed, you don’t normally think of this wooly game meat during a flowery season, but all the beautiful garnishes makes the plate seem like a flower box. The bison is quickly cured and served carpaccio style with dollops of smoked buttermilk, pickled ramp, wild watercress, and toasted hemp hearts. Each bite is interesting thanks to the varying flavours and textures.


The raviolo arrives like a bright sun, plump from being stuffed with an egg yolk and thin layer of truffle. In lieu of a cream sauce, it’s topped with truffle gastrique sweetened with maple syrup and chervil water.


Of the meal, it’s perhaps the most educating dish as Taylor explains how the herbs are cultivated using hydroponics (a new technology that raises herbs using water and fish in a closed loop system) and even provides diners with tips on how to ensure the pasta is cooked while the yolk remains molten: insulate the egg, regulate the pasta’s thickness, and never let the water temperature drop.

While the raviolo looks impressive, as soon as you cut through the pasta, the yolk is so runny it simply gushes out and mixes into the other liquids. Which could be okay, but there’s perhaps too many elements and flavours that it just didn’t tie together. Sadly, the mild truffle really didn’t stand out. If anything, aside from the egg, a sweet herby flavour was most pronounced.

I enjoyed the boozy palette cleanser, a tonic and cucumber granita with unfiltered Dillion’s gin poured table side. It’s definitely not your typical sweet granita and definitely more fun.


You can’t create a Canadian seafood dinner without cod – in fact, Taylor tells us in Newfoundland fishing means catching cod – everything else is known by name (such as going trouting). In line with his sustainable beliefs, the meal featured the limited line-caught Fogo Island cod.


The fish is sous vide with morel butter, sautéed morels, sprouted legume, and a maple vinaigrette. A lovely aromatic dashi (a concoction of bull kelp, morels, and wild onion tips) is then poured on top. While it looks like there’s a lot happening on the dish, the elements are rather mellow so the cod remains the predominant flavour with a hint of earthiness. Overall, the fish was cooked beautifully, and was a tasty dish, but a touch more seasoning will help.

Dinner ends with a lovely Ontario lamb wellington wrapped in the traditional crepe, chicken liver duxelle (heavy on the liver and light on mushrooms), and a thin layer of Swiss chard. The lamb saddle is a flavourful but tougher cut, so the Chef ensures it’s tender by sous viding it first. It was absolutely delicious and even more commendable by featuring pasture raised lamb.


Child-like gasps and giddy laughter erupts as a behemoth plate of buttermilk panna cotta is set down - we’re all astounded by the sheer size of the dessert, yet plates are cleaned amongst our table. The panna cotta is creamy and rich, but lightened with compressed candied rhubarb and dollops of rhubarb gelatin. It certainly provided the relaxing and soothing exit Chef Taylor intended.


When I first heard about the Chase’s R&D dinner, I was excited to visit the restaurant to experience the luxurious seafood creations. Yet, what surprised me the most (and has me returning) is learning the Chase cares about using ethical and sustainable ingredients. In fact, dishes aren’t about fancy exotic inputs, but rather supporting local whenever possible. It’s a restaurant that’s proud to feature garnishes from ingredients that may otherwise be thrown away… take that corporate accounts.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
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How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 10 Temperance Street (penthouse)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


The Chase Fish & Oyster Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Momofuku Kōjin (Toronto)


The best tables at Kōjin, in my opinion, are the ones by the window. Overlooking University Avenue, there’s a unique beauty as you see the cars and people whizzing by amongst the serene Kōjin environment. It’s the epitome of taking a break from the hustle and bustle, without leaving the city.

To ease us into dinner, two complimentary eats are presented: a bowl of lightly pickled peaches, Asian pear, corn, and tomatillos that were a refreshing nibble during our hot summer visit; and a bowl of chicken consommé, which really didn’t smell or taste like much and was a rather strange pairing with the pickles.  


A lot has been written about their corn flatbread, a concoction that combines Chef Paula Navarrete’s Colombian roots with inspiration from Chef Chang’s bing flatbread. Even plain it’s good – I inhaled the toasted corn aroma before biting into the bread that’s lightly salted and has a bit of oiliness with crispy edges. Frankly, I'd like the option of just ordering them without anything else (the most minimal order is with butter and honey); your closest option would be the flatbread with ham and to eat them separately.


Since we were already having meat as our main, we paired the flatbread with spinach dip ($13) instead. The hot, creamy, and cheesy mixture is fluid from Steamwhistle beer being added to the dip, which gives it a light bitter aftertaste. While the concoction is tasty, I found it too rich, masking all the delicious K2 mills cornmeal and hominy flavours of the flatbread.

Even though the restaurant serves Colombian dishes with a Momofuku twist, they still strive to use Canadian ingredients. Our waiter explains that aside from the seafood, other ingredients are sourced 100km from the city - the meat, their biggest draw, is sourced from Magee Farms just outside Toronto. The oysters ($24) were two P.E.I. varieties. Both small, delicate, and light. Arriving with a green pepper hot sauce (more for the pepper’s flavour than heat) and pressed cucumber, both condiments are so neutral that I really missed the acidity of vinegar or lemon that pairs so well with the shellfish.


Being a steakhouse, Kōjin’s menu is very different from their predecessors (although there are choices for those who don't eat red meat). Oh, how heads turn when the wooden platter of steak is presented at a table. Our 14oz boneless ribeye ($78) arrives with a fire roasted tomato sauce (nice and zesty but would be better with fish), steak sauce (oddly tastes exactly like Diana barbeque sauce), and brown butter marrow with porcini dust (the best of the three with steak). Then on the side is what looks like a large shishto pepper but is much spicier … good luck finishing that thing.


In reality, the steak was great on its own. Perfectly seasoned with a restrained amount of salt and pepper, the beef was richly flavoured thanks to the 32 days of dry aging and fattiness (bordering on prime rib amounts). While the butcher block looks great, the wood absorbs a lot of heat, so the steak arrives cool. Moreover, if chefs are used to pulling off the steak earlier (as it continues to cook on the plate), the butcher block seems to stop the cooking process as our medium rare steak arrived rare.

Regardless of what you order, a side of Tita’s mash ($15) would be a delicious addition. Based on Paula’s grandma’s recipe, this is one for dairy lovers as the dish incorporates cheese curds and more melted cheese on top. Every spoonful is like eating cheese with potatoes, the hot skillet keeping everything gooey until the last sinful bite.


Meanwhile, the BBQ zucchini ($15) with anchovy and chives is an odd combination that must be described on the menu … had I known there’d be fish added to the vegetable, I would have gotten something else. While the anchovy gives the side an interesting depth of flavour, it also adds a fishiness that we found off-putting with the zucchini.


On the other hand, the dulce de leche ($15) dessert is exactly as described: a sweet bread with dulce de leche and ice cream. The egg bread is fluffy and resembles a baked doughnut, it’s then topped with a light ice cream and thinned dulce de leche, both adding sweetness without giving a sugar high. What a satisfying ending of having that bite (or in this case numerous bites) of something sweet but isn’t too heavy.


Kōjin means fire with the restaurant named after the element since food is cooked or finished off on the wood-fired grill. For me, Kōjin’s appeal is less about fire and more about the menu’s variety (tons of Colombian dishes with Momofuku standards thrown in for good measure) and use of Canadian ingredients that brings out the patriot in me. It’s also the feeling of rising above the busyness of life. For a moment, for one meal, it’s all kept at bay.

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10 


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 190 University Avenue (3rd floor)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Honest Weight (Toronto)


Simply prepared fresh seafood is one of my favourite meals. Sadly with pollution and over harvesting, opportunities to enjoy truly sensational sustainable seafood are decreasing. Hence, when I heard about the rave reviews on Honest Weight and their co-owner John Bil’s commitment to using sustainable seafood, the restaurant made it onto my “must visit” list.

It’s only at a reputable seafood establishment that I get raw shucked oysters ($3 each). Indeed, every table at Honest Weight seemed to have a platter of them. Deliciously clean and salty, they were served with the customary red onion mignonette and shaved horseradish. A bottle of hot sauce is also included for an extra zip, but unnecessary for me.


What I wouldn’t do for another bowl of the Honest chowder ($12) a fantastic combination of lightly creamed broth with tons of clams, a few mussels, potato, fennel, and a hint of white wine. The seafood is left whole and appear to be freshly added to the soup, so they remain plump and sweet. It all comes with warmed Forno Cultura seeded sourdough, which has a nutty curry flavour. You must start with a bowl!


On a rainy day, the albacore tuna tataki ($17) was a welcomed ray of sunshine… if the sun is made from glorious pink tuna. The fish is seared on a low temperature so there’s only a slight ring around the tuna; the border between cooked and raw barely discernible. While the house-made ponzu could be saltier, the horseradish gives it a lovely kick and the sesame seeds and green onion simple garnishes.  


With four options for the pick yer fish ($29), the delicate local pickerel seemed like a great summer choice. Although the fish had a beautifully seared crust, it was too salty and overdone – luckily, pickerel is a forgiving fish. The smashed potatoes had such a lovely caramelized crispy crust they put hash browns to shame. Is it wrong I enjoyed the starchy side more than the fish?


A light meal calls for a light finish with a buttermilk panna cotta ($11), which was nice and creamy. There was plenty of garnishes to add flavour: macerated strawberries, candied pine nuts, basil slivers. Everything worked.  


You even get a taste of the east coast charm at Honest Weight - it’s an intimate environment and our waiter was candid and friendly. Just make a reservation; even on Sunday they were busy with patrons being turned away it they haven’t already secured a table. At least there’s a fish counter attached to the restaurant, worse comes to worse they can purchase something to go. While the dinner did take longer than normal (our waiter advised they were slammed at lunch so didn’t have adequate prep time for dinner), it’s such a tranquil environment that it didn’t matter. Just enjoy the easy breezy “seaside” dinner.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2766 Dundas Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
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!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Honest Weight Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Craft beer lovers, Northern Maverick Brewing Co. is Now Opened!


In Ontario’s carefully controlled liquor industry, it’s hard to imagine how one can actually be a maverick and fully become a free-spirited company. One way to inch free of the chains is to open a brewery, where there are still rules and taxes, but creations can be freely shared without the threat of being hidden in the back or requiring expensive listing fees, since the Beer Store is actually owned by three large global beer manufacturers (and not our government).

Hence, it’s no surprise that with the rise in popularity of craft beer, there has also been an increase in craft breweries. The newest entrant is Northern Maverick Brewing Co. a sprawling 11,000 sq. ft. establishment that includes a restaurant (complete with huge patio), beer store, beer school, and of course brewery.


Their menu focuses on Canadian sourced casual eats. With the gleaming red slicer, their house made charcuterie arrives paper thin, making you want just one more slice. Everything is cured perfectly so it’s not too dry nor overly salty. Although truth be told, the savoury spices didn’t go well with the Vienna lager as it brought out so much of the beer’s bitterness. Sticking with one of their wines may be a better choice.


You could really create a nibbling feast for your party by adding a cheeseboard as well. With seven different cheeses available (sourced across Quebec and Ontario), there everything from a gooey brie to a harder cheddar, these go much better with the bubbly beers.


In a heartbeat I’d return for another Jamaican oxtail patty ($6), the flaky pastry is filled with tender braised oxtail incorporating habanero heat to have you reaching for a cold drink after finishing it.


Five seasonal beers are offered on tap; during the opening there was a dry hopped sour, Vienna lager, American pale ale, Indian pale ale, and a hefeweizen. What Northern Maverick strives for is to create aromatic brews that focus on flavour and smell, but is still balanced and delicious.

Having sampled a few of the craft beers, my favourite was the Heart of Tartness ($8.50) that contains strong refreshing notes of citrus and fruit – after something heavy, it’s a great way to cleanse the palette. The Gosezilla ($8.50) is also interesting having a lighter tartness but ending with a savoury element thanks to the hint of coriander.


Northern Maverick makes a mean cocktail as well – taking a traditional concoction and giving it a twist. The Travellers Mojito starts with the typical rum, mint, and lime juice, but then adds rose water, cardamom, and honeydew to give it an exotic tropical spin. Meanwhile, the Dry Hopped Daiquiri contains plenty of Mount Gay Black Barrel rum, but is mellowed with orange blossom water and a slightly bitter hops syrup.


Reading the blog write-up posted by Northern Maverick’s founder Jason Kaptyn, you can feel the passion and the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get them to the opening. I can’t wait until their beer school opens and I can learn more about beer and food pairings – for those who are especially gung ho they’ll even teach you how to create something at home. In the end, Jason just wants to share his love of craft beers with everyone else. As he sums up, “In short, we will do our best to provide the learning experience that, once upon a time, captured our hearts and led to our brewery in the first place.”

Disclaimer: The above drinks and food were sampled on a complimentary basis at their grand opening event. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 115 Bathurst Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


K.Dinner's Private Monday Evening Events


Nowadays, chefs have a number of options to become an entrepreneur, beyond the typical work-and-save or partner with an investor options to open a brick and mortar location. Food trucks keep some roaming and mobile, but my personal preference is the “pop-up” type meals where chefs take over another restaurant.

The newest entrant is Chef Ken Yau, who’s Monday night K Dinners take over Café Fiorentina, a day when the restaurant is normally closed. With seatings at 6:00pm and 8:30pm, a communal table about ten people will gather to break bread over 7-courses of seafood ($80).

Chef Yau touts England’s The Fat Duck as an inspiration for his menu. The famed Michelin star restaurant by Chef Heston Blumenthal is known for their molecular gastronomy using modern equipment and techniques to create one-of-a-kind dishes.

The influence was best showcased in the amuse bouche and first course. For the starter, a truffle-sized orb is perched on rocks and you’re advised to delicately place it inside your mouth, whole. Bit through the thin chocolate-like shell and a flood of sweet pear juice augmented with citrusy yuzu floods the mouth, further contrasted with a salty relish on top.


This is followed by fried fish skin dusted with salt and vinegar sushi rice, which puts any extreme flavour chip to shame, and green tea powder that’s supposed to bring bitterness to the fold (although you really couldn’t taste the matcha since it was drowned out by the vinegar).


As a plate of mussels are brought to the table, Yau explains he works with a company that can cultivate them in small batches with customized flavoured growing environments. This batch of PEI oysters were grown with yuzu so no condiments are needed.


Sure enough, as one’s brought to the table, the typical sea-like aroma is replaced with the light scent of lemon. As it hits the tongue, the oyster’s juices are all at once citrusy, briny, and sweet.

Refreshing elements continue with a squid salad. Pickling the squid makes it a bit chewy but the firmer texture and sour flavour is rather interesting. Sitting in a bed of saffron clam sauce, the savoury creamy condiment helps add a touch of richness to the otherwise summery course. Meanwhile, the salad was everything but lettuce: juicy tomato slices, tomato water mixed with Riesling and juniper jelly, crunchy fava beans, and crisp radishes.


The following seared scallop was one of my favourite bites of the evening, the meaty seafood wonderfully cooked so that it remained delicate and sweet. Crumbled segments of finger limes (citrus caviar) transformed the cauliflower purée into a smooth and crunchy concoction that made me yearn for another spoon.


At the centre of the table, on a salvaged piece of wood, sat a lemon, morels, bunch of herbs, and a dark liquid. It wasn’t until the middle of dinner these were combined into a carafe filled with rocks and caramelized onion consommé (prepared over four days) and steeped to create an intensely flavoured French onion soup with a tom yum flair thanks to the white soy sauce, Madeira wine, and sherry vinegar.


With the rich broth came warm crusty bread and a generous portion of whipped brown butter flavoured with capers, anchovies, and sherry vinegar for spreading onto the bread. We all agreed that we should have stuck with one slice (boy were we full at the end), if only the butter wasn’t so enticing.


The following seafood risotto was another one of my favourite dishes of the night. In Chef Yau’s version, in lieu of rice the risotto is made entirely from finely diced seafood (halibut, clams, prawns, etc.). Starch is added through pieces of fried potatoes, which also help add a bit of crunch to the creamy dish and everything is further enhanced with a thickened lobster sauce. It was wonderful, but a tad salty so would be even better if the seasoning was toned down.


After such an amazing risotto the poached halibut was a mediocre ending. While I enjoyed the beurre blanc sauce dotted with plump mussel and crispy duck and chicken skin, the flavours were too close to the previous risotto. Moreover, the fish was left resting too long and the temperature lukewarm at best.


Chef Yau should consider re-ordering the dishes (serving the halibut earlier on) or changing the fish’s accompaniments to something fresher and brighter. Regardless, in either case, the halibut needs to be hotter and the seafood risotto should definitely be the last dish.

There was a sense of weariness when the dessert was presented, already Chef Yau prefaced the dish by stating desserts aren’t his thing. One taste and I agreed – there was too much going on in one dish: braised cherries, granite, creamy mascarpone, and thyme. Also, while sherry vinegar was already used throughout the menu, this favourite ingredient even made an appearance in the dessert and completely overpowered everything.


I understand, chefs cannot be good at all things – after all, pastry chefs often dedicate their whole careers to perfecting desserts. If this isn’t your forte, just keep it simple (one friend commented how grilled peaches with ice cream would have been a great ending) or outsource the course to someone else (Japanese cheesecake anyone)?

Renegotiating the seating arrangements with Chef Fiorentina are also required. Despite the restaurant being closed, the table was set in the basement on a table with bar stools. After three hours, the room became stuffy and warm and stools are best suited for a quick sandwich or ramen, not a long multi-course dinner.

Despite the somewhat rocky ending, I was pleased with the overall experience at K Dinner. Having eaten at his premiere meal, I’m sure the kinks will be worked out as the operation matures. In speaking to Chef Yau, his word-of-mouth advertising is a success with his Monday dinners are already booked into mid-October. Small private dinners are coming to Toronto and eaters are devouring it.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada

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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!


Is That It? I Want More!

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