Spice Route


Who would have known... We were invited to a restaurant right next door to Ma Cherie's work. Passed by it multiple times, but did not even consider going in. In retrospect, I think it was probably because it is only really open during the day. There were also some scantily clad women making their way inside on a few occasions I noticed visitors.

luxury enforcing label for a light blush wine, with the typical quote"goes well with spicy asian food"
Looks like a private club...maybe an upscale lounge. We found it hard to believe it was a restaurant. Of course there is a small menus by the door, but still... a low hanging porch covering a dark passage to a door  (a portal itself is a masterpiece: aged wood with iron bindings) water flowing on the side, no front windows to show what is happening on the inside: a touch intimidating and club-like.

slow to come to definition, a sweet rose-turkish delight hint, some strawberry
Quite a different picture on the inside. Flowing water behind the bar, smiling waiters and a lively atmosphere. The restaurant is distinguishably eastern with an area of low ottoman-pillow chairs. We chose to sit outside and ended up separated by a wall from a puffing and huffing busy King Street. Our table was under an over-sized awning. I personally hate painted brick as a choice of exterior facing material and we sat right next to a wall finished in black, although neatly painted, brick. Felt a bit out of place for me. Bamboo and plaid surfaces were more fitting- hard to miss. The best part was the addition of water again - open concrete outdoor aquarium with koi fish, the water kept on circulating - a sound suiting the busy atmosphere.

syrupy sweet, light hints of black tea
Our waiter was very prompt and appeared knowledgeable. He suggested sharing for our group of four and gave us a rundown of their their best options. As we started looking around, we noticed a few bachelorette parties occupying nearby lounge-like areas. There was lots of laughter and carrying conversations so this secluded patio was lively and a pleasant place to be. We ended up ordering Surf and Turf (wasabi and Kobe beef sliders), Sweet and Sour Pork (neatly complemented by pineapples), Cantonese Chow Mein and Tempura Calamari and Rock Shrimp. We also ordered a bottle of Hakkaisan sake.

cold, bites the tongue at the beginning, medium-to-full bodied
First our Cantonese Chow Mein made their way. It was delicious - crispy noodles tangling around shrimp, chicken, squid, bok choy, etc. Even the pickiest of us made their way around the seafood, as the aroma took over the table. Next, the Surf and Turf - we always wanted to try Kobe beef and finally we did even though it was in tiny sliders. Hard to judge how sensitive and tender this meat was comparing to high quality beef - it was definitely enjoyable, but I would not say the taste was “to die for”. The wasabi tuna sliders were definitely an essence, with alfalfa leaves sticking out, they were tender and a tad spicy. All 4 sliders came with a side of yams and chipotle mayo, to make up for those disappointed in the size. We quite enjoyed the Sweet and Sour Pork - the pork and peppers bathing in sweet and sour sauce, but to our disappointment only garnished with a pineapple skewer on the side. A bit heavy on the sauce, but cooked to perfection - this plate was shared quickly and gone in no time. Soon after we were brought the “chef’s compliments”. We were disappointed to find out how uninventive this dish was - four pieces fried bread with a simple tomato paste - a nice gesture, though. Tempura Calamari and Shrimp came battered with a side of lemon scallion aioli which added interest to the dish.
We concluded our dinner with a few desserts: Tangerine Brownies, Ginger Creme Brulee and Apple Spring Rolls. Out of the three, I would definitely recommend to try the brownies - a very delicate, smooth taste with a hint of citrus - would be nice on a colder day as well. The brulee was less exciting, but had an interesting spicy twist to it - just enough to accent without overtaking the palette. As for the rolls - a very predictable pastry, the strawberry compote on the side helped brighten it up. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but a safe choice for someone not looking to experiment.

sweet at the end, not much of an aftertaste
Quite an impressive location and interior. Nicely themed - chic asian/eastern. I just wish the food was matching in the chic-ness a bit more - more experimentation and perhaps a few more turkish-eastern dishes. Not to say this place should not be visited, I would just recommend it for a lounge or a social drinking experience and snaking, rather than for a foodie dinner.
And by the way, a way more casual entrance/exit does exist from the patio!

Overall.. a not too balanced Rosé - a bit heavy in smell compared to its light body. To be enjoyed with a cube of ice!

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