Tag Archives: Toronto restaurants

Duck salad inside red box

Meet the $45 Takeout Meal That Comes in a Jewellery Box

The pandemic is changing habits — and we’re all embracing takeout like never before. While fast-food chains were always set up for takeout, other restaurants had to quickly adapt their business model to pay the bills. Fine-dining restaurants that previously relied on dine-in patrons are forced to now reimagine their food to offer an upscale dining experience to-go.

Hana in Toronto’s ritzy Yorkville neighbourhood offers one the best modern Kyō-kaiseki (Kyoto-style cuisine) dining experiences in the city. Chef Ryusuke Nakagawa’s food does a dance between modern and traditional — and pre-COVID, his preparation and presentation of each dish was so meticulous. Clearly, I had to see if the takeout experience shared the same sentiment. I opted for the duck salad, which costs $45. Expensive compared to fast-food takeout, but quite on par in terms of fine-dining prices.

Duck salad inside red box

First Looks

Let’s start with the packaging. The duck salad comes in a glistening, cherry-coloured, faux mahogany keepsake box from Japan, which adds an instant sophistication to the experience. From afar, you wouldn’t believe it’s not real wood. Once the lid is removed, your eyes are drawn to the variety. The dish is made with over a dozen ingredients that are all visible and vibrant. The star of the show is the ribbons of duck which Hana is not frugal about in this salad.

Red box on white counter

Digging In

Where do I even start? In a dish with so many ingredients, I like to try each one individually to get a sense of taste and texture separately. Essentially, I give each ingredient its own attention. It’s important to note that the duck salad’s veggies vary depending on the season. When I tried this in December 2020, this is what I had.

The duck is marinated in akamiso (red miso) and is slightly charcoal-grilled. It’s soft and buttery. The salad also has delicious carrot kinpira (julienned vegetables that are braised in a sauce made of soy and sugar), shungiku leaves (slightly bitter, yet delicate leafy greens) and maitake mushrooms, blanched and boiled in a dashi-based broth.

Related: Can’t Dine Out? These Toronto Restaurants Are Offering Date Night Meal Delivery

Ingredients that were new to me include: ginkgo (nuts that comes from a ginkgo tree and taste like edamame), golden beets (which are much sweeter than the red ones) and kikka kabura (a flower-shaped turnip). Other characters that make up the salad include daikon, radish sprouts, red cabbage, persimmons (because they’re in season), lotus roots, figs and the most finely sliced limes that complimented every bite.

Duck salad inside red box

The Sour Notes

This salad is made with a variety of vinegars: saffron vinegar, tosa vinegar, sweet vinegar and more. I can say with confidence, I never once made a dramatic sour face the way babies do when trying a lemon for the first time.

The Verdict

This dish could have gone terribly wrong given the amount of acidity in it. Ninety per cent of the vegetables were marinated with acidic notes, yet the duck stood up to it all.

I think one of the ways the chef was able to control the acidity is by his masterful knife skills, which Japanese chefs are known for. You’ll notice the dish is full of vegetable that are sliced, diced, julienned, fine-julienned and chiffonade cut. The cutting technique affects flavour. The more finely cut a vegetable, the more marinade it can absorb, which mean the chef is able to maintain a balanced flavour.

Although the shiso flower buds make a very pretty garnish, next time I would politely put them to the side. They have a very strong, lingering herb flavour that I could easily do without. I see why it would work well in a cocktail.

Overall, if you like duck, this is a must-have. You won’t be disappointed with the portion, presentation or palatableness.

Closeup of takeout duck salad in red box with wood chopsticks

Interested in more takeout reviews? We tried the KFC Cinnabon Dessert Biscuits and Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich.

Photos courtesy of Deepi Harish

Late Night Eat Toronto

The 10 Best Late Night Eats in Toronto

It’s hard for restaurant-goers to go hungry in Toronto, where the array of plates fused from countries all over the world is serious business. But that’s during regular dinner service hours. What about the joints that are perpetually open late for those of us seeking out delicious options (and maybe even a cocktail or two) until the wee hours of the morning?

As host Jordan Andino proves on the Toronto episode of Late Nite Eats, The Six is revolutionizing the after-hours dining scene in some pretty delicious ways. Here are 10 of our picks for the best after-hours joints the city has to offer.

Bar Fancy

1070 Queen St. W

 

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If you’re craving classic bar snacks, head over to this Queen West spot, where chefs and co-owners Jonathan Poon and Jesse Fader dish out oysters and fried chicken alongside nori-topped artichoke dip and dirty nachos. The joint is open until 2 a.m. daily, and serves an array of beer and wines as well as mixed drinks by request.

Bar Raval

505 College St.

 

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Big atmosphere and small plates are the themes of this Barcelona-inspired pinxto bar in Little Italy, where a curved wooden bar and an impressive peek-through bar rail adorn the intimate space. There, Grant Van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow dish out crafty cocktails and memorable toothpick-tapas, like house-smoked fish, a variety of cured meats and cheeses, and tiny sandwiches on fresh bread until 2 a.m.

Night Owl

647 College St.

 

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Another Little Italy joint, this two-floor space features live music, arcade games, and an array of illuminated signs to keep the eye wandering until the last call at 2 a.m. There are boozy floats and hand-crafted cocktails to help wash down the rotating menu of elevated bar food, like shawarma poutine, juicy cheeseburgers, or spicy fried cauliflower doused in sauce and adorned with pickled onions and cabbage.

Chantecler

1320 Queen St W

 

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Steak tartare, smoked duck breast, chicken paté, and other classic French fare comprise the menu of this long-standing Parkdale haunt, which is open until 2 a.m. six days a week (although owner Jacob Wharton-Shukster closes down shop on Wednesdays). Add in a friendly atmosphere and an impressive cocktail menu with items like the gin-soaked “Corpse Reviver #2” or “Lady Problems,” a concoction of sherry, Cocchi Americano, green chartreuse and absinthe, and you can see why this place has become a neighbourhood staple.

Petit Potato

Unit 1-2, 10 Ravel Rd

 

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Tawainese and Japanese foods fuse together at this late-night joint, which is open daily until 1 a.m. There, crispy chicken wings are tossed in Yuzu sauce, creamy Japanese omelettes are topped with thick pork cutlets, and an array of ramen dishes keep patrons happy and full. But the real feat here are the desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, the ice cream stacked toasts and pancake soufflés are sure to impress.

Baro

485 King St. W

Whether you’re in the mood for a tasty snack or a full-on meal, this King West eatery’s Latin menu of modernized classics has you covered. Chef Steve Gonzales keeps his upstairs dining area, “Pablo’s Snack House,” open until 2 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturdays, where he serves shareables like yuca fries and empanadas, hand-held fare like braised chicken sliders and pork belly on steamed buns, or desserts like churros and flan.

Oddseoul

90 Ossington Ave.

Brothers and co-owners Leeto and Leemo Han deliver an array of Korean small plates and imaginative cocktails until 2 a.m. six days a week, closing down to reset each Sunday. Settle in among the exposed brick walls and 90s relics of this snackbar to enjoy items like Buffalo Fried Tofu, Tempura Prawns, Squash Poutine, Tempura Chicken with Devilled Eggs, or Kimchi + Pork Belly Fried Rice.

416 Snack Bar

181 Bathurst St

 

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Former Top Chef Canada: All Stars runner-up Dustin Gallagher helms the late-night menu at this affordable but delicious eatery, which serves patrons until 2 a.m. daily. There’s no cutlery to accompany the many snacks on the rotating menu, but when you’re dishing out items like tandoori heirlooms, falafel doubledowns or steak tartare on lettuce hearts, half the fun is eating with your hands anyhow.

LoPan

503 College St.

 

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If you’re hungry for the delectable new Asian offerings of popular TO resto DaiLo but you’re also in the mood for American comfort food, take a jaunt upstairs to this fusion spot, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. There you can sip on sours while snacking on items like KFC Popcorn Tofu with a Green Curry Slaw, a Big Mac Bao, or truffle fried rice.

Pinky’s Ca Phe

53 Clinton St.

 

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Executive chef Leemo Han concocts mouth-watering Vietnamese fusion food with a Philly flair at this Little Italy establishment, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Saturday. The dimly lit space is full of 1970s Vietnamese personality, from string lanterns and a heated sunroom, to the vintage photos adorning the walls. The drinks are thought-out and feature signature items like the house raspberry syrup, while the small-but-impressive menu of items like Marrow Beef, French Dip and Tiger’s Milk Ceviche will have you coming back for more… and more… and more.

 

Watch Late Nite Eats Fridays at 10 PM E/T on Food Network Canada.