Baked kushi oysters topped with buttery crunchy panko.
Back in October, I wrote out my thoughts on Chantecler; how it was, in short, my top pick in the city. Four months later, they cut their menu down to lettuce-wraps only. Indeed, the wrap is a delicious value-driven offering that many (including myself) return for, but what about those awesome dishes that blended the cultural flavours of my East and West so deftly? Enter their tasting menu.
Sitting in the best seats in the house sipping on a glass of Mosse’s excellent Moussamoussettes.
On my second tasting, we got the beef tartare again – but with a crazy awesome presentation. A wasabi oil surprise and oyster emulsion on the plate. And on top, the tartare and creative curls of cucumbers. The beef has a very clean and pure taste. Love the chunkier texture that a hand chop gives. Great combo.
A cool soft tofu with the light fire of an XO chili sauce. Silky, barely holding together, and so good. Made even better by a fantastic pairing that brought out just a hint of sweet. So good.
West coast geoduck, celery, and a soy-yuzu jelly. Lots of subtle flavours against the delicate taste of geoduck. Worked really well.
Side stripe shrimp in buttermilk with potato and seaweed. And not to be missed: the addictive seaweed compound butter; mildly briny with an indescribable umami flavour. Both nights I visited, I made sure every last bit was cleaned out of the petri dish.
Beautifully lacquered smoked duck for the next course.
Sliced smoked duck with beet on polenta with lovely crispy fried (in duck fat!) kale leaves of on the side.
These gougères are defined by their crispy exterior and airy interior.
Faux tea. Love the presentation and play. The broth was delicious and made me crave noodles.
Vanilla ice cream with hazelnut oil and cocoa nibs. Lots of textures; creamy, crunchy, crispy.
Pear coated in a shell of caramelized sugar. This is a take on the classic Hunan toffee banana dessert 拔丝香蕉 that we see in Chinese restaurants.
Johnny Poon’s playful menu is both delicious and finely crafted. At four seatings a weekend and ranging from from $40-$60, this is probably the hardest seat to get in Toronto right now. It’s certainly the most worthwhile – so much so that within the first three weeks of them introducing the menu, I went twice. I’ve no regrets despite the fact that it was almost the exact same meal. And I’m already looking at booking a third visit!
So mark June 1st in your calendars. Because that’s when Chantecler is next taking reservations for their tasting menu. For August.