So I went out for a jaunt with my one-and-only Zulla in search of something a little different to nosh on than the typical Italian or gastropub food we tend to gorge on. A streetcar ride over to Ossington and a short walk south later we were in front of the adorably eclectic and newly-opened Hawker Bar. Singapore street food for the night…sounded perfect.
Hawker Bar is a little hole-in-the-wall of a restaurant; I’d guess it seats maybe 24. We grabbed a perch at the bar and took a quick once-over of the hand-printed-on-cardboard menus. Chili salt tofu? Yes. Cucumber salad? Yes. Curry Pork Satay? Yes. Hainanese Chicken Rice? Y…wait…Whole Sea Bream with Banana Blossom Salad? Yes!
Everything was fresh as could be, with simple ingredients harmonizing instead of masking each other. The chili salt tofu was spongy, sweet, and salty. The curry pork satay bathed in a peanut sauce and moist and tender. The cucumber salad was one of the prettiest platings I’ve ever seen, simple yet elegant. The whole sea bream looked pissed off, it’s eyes staring me down after its fryer bath. Too bad for him he’s a tasty little sucker or he’d have likely been able to spend more time in Sebastian’s ‘Under the Sea’ chorus line.
As we gabbed away and enjoyed a mocktail while slinging back the Singapore-inspired food Hawker Bar has already impressed the Ossington Strip with, we couldn’t help but notice that from our post at the bar this spot felt almost speakeasy-esque. Only a small crowd can enjoy the ambiance at a time. The liquor license hasn’t arrived yet so prohibition’s in full effect. And the deep reds of the walls and rich woods of the table-tops are a little left of centre.
Hawker Bar is definitely being added to my list of Must Frequent Restaurants…and I especially have to head back to try out the Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice. (Sorry Stella!)
Hawker Bar | 164 Ossington Avenue, Toronto | hawkerbar.ca