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Reviewed May 29, 2005   »   32avenue.com   |   justin-cheung.com     

EAST!

240 Queen St. W. - Toronto, Canada
Street Foods: Grilled Baby Squids – baby squid marinated in chilli garlic lime sauce $4.50 – straight grilled tender baby squid accompanied by a side of sweet garlic soy, both sitting on top of a small heat wilted bed of spring mix. Where was the advertised marinade? Oh well, decent tasting nosh none-the-less.

Street Dim Sum (there’s such a thing?!?): Shrimps & Chives Dumplings – 3 pcs - steamed shrimps & chives with mixed vegetables $3.25 – overpriced dim sum that wasn’t all that different from those found in Chinatown, however instead of finely chopped/minced shrimp, it was about a half a shrimp cut into one or two portions and surrounded by diced chives (where are the advertised mixed vegetables?). I can tell they made their own dim sum. This would be what it would look like if I made the same, but haphazardly put in less than an ounce of effort. Taste was standard.

Chicken & Vegetable Dumplings – 5 pcs – steamed chicken and mixed vegetable dumplings $3.25 – again, overpriced steamed potstickers. Filling was a little lacking (vegetables was a bit of shredded cabbage). No dipping sauce. And when inquired about my opinion of the dishes (i.e. the floor manager who came to chat with me asked, how are things. My reply was, in general, or did you want my opinion straight about the food?) I let him know the presentation was very poor (they “dumplings” were just dished and dumped in the bamboo steamer) appearing as if one just scooped a spoonful of 5 and literally plopped them in the dish, and that it required a sweet chilli ginger soy dipping sauce. I told him, they look like potstickers. Are they supposed to be steamed??

Soho Steamed Fish Rolls – 4 pcs – fish mousse wrapped with nori seaweed $3.50 – expecting something like the fried seaweed rolls in normal restaurants, I was greeted at first with a plate of crispy looking sushi rolls (with the seaweed spiralling around the fish paste) drizzled with tasty looking sweet chilli sauce. Only wish that was the case (mistakenly given the street food edition of Soho Fried Fish Rolls). Instead I was given a bamboo steamer of spongy nori sushi-like rolls off the same, but bland and chewy. The topping of tobiko was nice, but there was no flavour in this dish. I asked for chilli sauce (and given 2 spicy versions by the floor manager and then the waitress). As pre-warned, the waitress did mention that people either love it or hate it (I said, might as well try it before you take it off the menu, even though the restaurant is only 4 days old and this dish is already marked a popular choice on your menus...go figure – a conspiracy by the owners I tell you!) – I felt neither emotion.

House Mango Salad – ground chicken, fresh mango, onion, coriander, bell peppers and cashew nuts $6.95 – a Spring Rolls staple – but a shrunken down version. I have concluded the best value for this dish is to dine-in at the Bloor and Yonge location – the portion size is the largest and it has a few more greens, ground chicken and cashews than the, literally, 1 Tbsp of each found on my plate here.

Conclusion: I like dining alone at times. You really get to sense the whole experience of a restaurant and also get much attention by the wait staff (who probably are willing to converse and ensure your comfort more without feeling they are intruding on an intimate conversation in a party). This was a lunch (yes I ate everything) on a bright day, not too busy as it was still around noon on Sunday. The new digs is trendy and comfortable. Something about the deep red and black – traditional, yet modern, exotic and still funky – that surrounds this split-level eatery. Still at tad cold as most of the front is glass surrounded, and although I requested to sit as far back as possible, it was still chilly in the middle of the restaurant. Despite all this, they played very subdued Nora Jones overhead, something that didn’t quite fit the theme nor the ambiance of this new eatery. Oh well, 4 days old, and still lots of bugs to fix. What can you expect from a chain that’s growing on its popularity in the middle of funky Queen Street? Milk them for all it’s worth, and while at that, ride the train of the current trend on tapas… despite the fact that the real deal (dim sum AND street food) at less than half the price is just 2 blocks away. I guess I was that sucker.

2.7

out of 5.0

noteworthy
n/a


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