Toronto’s got a new gastronomic Pop-Up in town! GwaiLo, a modern Asian brasserie, has set up shop for a limited time only in Senses Restaurant at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel. Founded by Chef Nick Liu (Niagara Street Cafe) and Christina Kuypers (Splendido), GwaiLo serves up a carefully created menu of sophisticated flavours and unique tasting cocktails.From November 1 to November 24, GwaiLo will be serving up a six-course menu of bite-sized dishes and a selection of specially crafted cocktails. Changing from week to week, each menu will begin with an amuse bouche, followed by four-courses, a palate-cleansing dish, completed by dessert.
I recently attended a tasting to preview Chef Nick Liu’s refined culinary creations. From dish to dish, I was taken on a journey through new as well as familiar flavours of Asian cuisine. Each bite-sized dish got better and better as I worked my way through the courses. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to quickly gobble them up in eagerness to taste more or to slowly and carefully enjoy each little bite.
Here’s a look at the six-course menu I tasted:
The evening started off with some potent cocktails shaken up by GwaiLo’s mixologist Josh Lindley. Choosing ingredients to compliment the flavours of the dinner menu, these drinks have quite the kick! My favourite of the two sampled was the Gov. Dawsonne – a refreshing and fiery blend of cucumber, ginger, jalapeno, Hendrick’s gin and green chartreuse.After sipping some cocktails, dinner began with a tasty amuse bouche consisting of shrimp salad and fried green tomato on a bed of lettuce.
Next up was General Tsao’s Sweetbreads paired with a jellyfish slaw, scallion, chili and coriander. The sweetbreads were tender sweet little morsels with a bit of spice. The slaw was light in flavour, although I did not particularly care for the texture of the jellyfish.
Japanese Bolognese with beef tataki, handmade soba, tomato consommé, Parmigiano, mushroom crisp, basil and truffle pearls. The beef was nicely prepared and oh so tender. Personally, the noodles were too soft for my liking.
Seared Scallop with smoked cherry tomato, honey mushroom, pickled carrot, basil, and tom yum beurre blanc. This was one of my favourites. A mixture of very unique flavours; the boldness of the smoked tomatoes was nicely paired with the subtle sweetness of the scallops. The tom yum beurre was uber yum! If I had been alone, I would have spooned the rest of it!
Braised Korean Short Rib with a kimchi pommes purée, Asian pear BBQ sauce, topped with a panko egg yolk. Another favourite, the tender Short Rib was robust in flavour, while the kimchi pommes purée was velvety smooth and savoury. A great combination, I could easily have another helping!
And lastly for dessert, a Shochu Poached Pear, topped with a sweet and crunchy Peking duck brittle, sweet elderberries, and a dollop of creamy, feather light star anise Chantilly. This was the perfect way to end the evening. I loved this light dessert!
The GwaiLo Pop-Up will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from November 1 to November 24, 2012. The six-course pop-up menu is priced at $75 before taxes and gratuity and has an additional wine and cocktail pairing option for $45. Seating starts at 6 pm, prepaid reservations can be made online at www.gwailo.ca. GwaiLo hopes to find a permanent home in time for Chinese New Year in 2013.
Natalia Dziubaniwsky is a lover of life, avid traveller, animal lover, movie buff, hobbyaholic, volunteer and is always seeking a new adventure. Interact with her on Twitter @taliasfootsteps or simply follow her footsteps through her blog.