Don’t want to eat a lot, but like to try everything on the menu? 416 Snack Bar manages to cater to both needs while putting their own spin on some of Toronto’s ethnically diverse eats. With a short card and all their items hovering around the five-dollar mark, it’s easy to eat your way down the entire menu of nibbles.
While David Chang’s version of the pork bun he made popular isn’t landing on Canadian soil for another 18 months or so, I hear-tell that 416 Snack Bar does a good rendition. With the requisite hoisin and scallions, there was also something slightly pickled that gave it an extra texture and vinegary punch. Chang comparisons aside, this pork belly bun stands on its own.
I hadn’t had a latke in years, so I ate these with some nostalgia. Topped with gravlax and a sprinkle of dill, these were pretty much what you’d expect.
The Jamaican beef patty was filled with shredded beef instead of the ground mush I was expecting. It came sided with a tasty hot sauce that gave it some kick. I found the pastry a bit dry and hard, though I feel that this is how the shell is supposed to be. I’m not really sure, given my negligible beef patty experience.
Their take on the Vietnamese sub, the Saigon mini sub, is a tasty one with a softer bun. The slice of pate made this a richer version than what you’d find along Spadina. I wanted more coriander and hot peppers however, as they are notes that I heavily associate with the sub. These are pretty minor gripes though – I’d order this again.
Salty with a decent tomato taste, their Napolitano pizza pocket was essentially a bread-and-cheese mass – very filling. Though I had a saucier picture in my head, since you can eat only with your fingers here, I was glad that it held together so well.
The room is done up with rustic and reclaimed touches, making the space less dive and more derelicte. I counted seats for 32 in groups of 4-6, with 8 at the bar. I had first thought this would be a good place to bring out-of-towners. After talking with Endy, I agreed with his viewpoint that it was instead the natives that would get the most out of the experience, having a foundation for what the guys at 416 are riffing on. It’s interesting to see what they’ve done and I look forward to future takes on other foods!