My first delicious brunch of 2015 was at Patois. In the first weeks of January we headed over to Dundas West to meet up with two old friends, Victoria and Laura. We met them separately and then together: GC has known the girls since high school, and I met them in university. Patois is the perfect spot to catch up with old friends – it is Asian cuisine meets Jamaican-soul food, combining comforting old standards with fun contemporary twists. It is food that personifies the past and the future: dishes you have come to know and trust but looking forward to innovation, change and new, exciting things.

The restaurant is small but cozy, reminiscent of a tiki bar on a beach. Yes, I do realize tiki bars are not Jamaican but the atmosphere is consistent with being on vacation: natural materials, golden pineapples and floaty toys hanging from the ceiling. We were seated at a table for four past the bar, half of us sitting in booths, half on chairs.

Be warned: when you go to Patois for brunch, coffee is expensive and adds up. They do not have regular drip coffee, so you will be ordering Americanos that do not come with free refills. It is a small thing but it will add up quickly and do you really love coffee that much that you want to spend 1/4 of your brunch cost on it? I think not.

Barrio Coreano

The holidays have come and gone and that means life can return to normal. Normal to me means eating good food with good people: on Wednesday night Cynthia and I went to Barrio Coreano.

Barrio Coreano is Playa Cabana‘s fourth restaurant that is Korean-Mexican fusion food. The vibe is the same as their other locations: funky, eclectic and a mix of found items and repurposed items. The menus are written on the wall without descriptions, a trend I hate, but we have an overly excitable server who explained every menu item in depth. We started out with cocktails and guacamole, a must at any Mexican restaurant. We then had three tacos each ($5/taco, pretty standard) and more cocktails.

The Yuzu Tuna taco.

Yuzu Tuna TacoPhoto Credit: Toronto Life
The Yuzu Tuna taco with tempura fried ahi tuna with jicama, purple cabbage slaw and yuzu dressing.

The fish was flaky, tender and slightly sweet in a gentle covering of batter. The slaw was sweet and crunchy. The jalapeno peppers added a kick of heat that added a deeper layer of flavour and cohesion to the taco. This was tasty but still, my favourite fish taco is still at La Carnita.

The Grilled Octopus with Wasabi Salsa.

Octopus TacoPhoto Credit: Toronto Life
Grilled octopus taco with wasabi, daikon and avocado pico de gallo.

The octopus was tender and citrusy, grilled lightly to ensure it wasn’t rubbery and tough. The wasabi added a unique heat to the taco which added a deeper level of depth of flavour then your traditional heat inducers don’t add. The avocado added creaminess. The flavours and textures of this taco were complex but working in perfect harmony together.

The Korean Beef Taco Beef TacoPhoto Credit: Toronto Life
Korean Beef taco with Korean barbecue beef with house-pickled pears

This was my favourite of the three tacos. The beef was tender and easy to bite into. It was juicy and the sauce was spicy but sweet. Korean flavours start of as sweet and then hit you with a subtle heat that builds through the meal. The house-pickled pears reinforced the Korean theme of the taco and add a fresh, cool, crispiness that helped ease the spicy burn with every bite.

I really enjoyed my meal here. The cocktails were different and unique, but still well priced. The tacos had a real depth of flavour that made them complex but still enjoyable and not too overpowering. And of course, the company was unparalleled.

Definitely worth the trip to Koreatown – happy munching!