Windup Bird Cafe Review

Windup Bird Café is the latest addition to Sang Kim’s growing list of Toronto restaurants. As his career progresses, Kim’s personality is increasingly inflected into the concepts of his culinary hotspots. Kim is an award winning fiction writer and playwright, a proud father, a consummate learner and an admirable proponent of community involvement. Windup Bird Café will serve as more than a mecca for omnivorously acclimated palates: it will become a classroom, cooking studio, and hub for urban agriculture on College Street.

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The bright, airy space features windows that flank almost the entire east wall facing Borden Street. Exposed brick, mellow yellow hues, local art and antique fixtures accent the charming corner lot interior.

Chef Yumiko Kobayashi’s capable hands will head up the all-female kitchen, hoping to lead a “modern day food revolution” of locally sourced international comfort food. Exceptionally succulent lamb chops with pommery mustard were served over a bed of watercress and sliced green apple. Their signature, silken tofu and avocado gratin, is enhanced by a nutty drizzle of Asian hot chili sesame oil and the textural contrast of crispy fried shallots.

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Fresh baked goods and frothy cappuccinos will serve placid locals throughout the day. An inspired brunch menu will please the weekend crowd. Seasonally charged fair will abound with opposing worlds of flavour – complimentary preparations that are health conscious and will delight all segments of culinary preference.

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Kim and Kobayashi are aligned in their commitment to fostering nutritional awareness and community concern. Aside from curating a menu that caters to vegan, gluten-free, and bon vivant appetites alike, they’ve planned for a diverse set of programming that will appeal to all ages and interests.

We were treated to an endearing pilot presentation of Kid-Chen Confidential – a series where cooks under the age of 18 teach other children to make healthy food on their own. A few nights ago, the 16-year old Proteen Queen, Leah Honiball, was on hand to teach Kim’s daughter Kiki how to prepare Ganmodoki (fried tofu burgers).

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Cook/Book is another literacy program that will take place regularly at Windup Bird Café. Local author Joyce Wayne (The Cook’s Temptation) spoke about her new book while sharing her recipe for a decadent yet light mango cheesecake.

As the evening faded out to the soothing notes of the flute and clarinet played by University of Toronto music students – part of “The Shuffle” which will bring in local musicians to improvise and create music each month – Kim and company were all smiles. Of course, a couple of Windup’s Umani Caesars made with all-natural Walter Caesars Mix helped lift spirits. But it became increasingly evident, to me at least, that with his family by his side and his ideals in check, Windup Bird Café may just be Sang’s greatest triumph to date. For the moment it may just be a personal victory, but perhaps with the proper reception it will be professionally as well.

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If you’re planning on checking out the Windup Bird Cafe, let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.

Jason Finestone

Jason Finestone

A Toronto based food fiend and travel nut with a lust for all things tasty. If his liver can process it (somewhat) then he’s likely game to give it a go. His wanderlust spirit has taken him all over the globe, living in 6 different countries from Canada to the US, South Korea to Europe. Along the way he’s developed a propensity for irreverent parlance and inhibition-less adventure. “If meat is king then dumplings are queen — I am a prince of noodle soups and a duke of hard drink — street food is life.”
Jason Finestone

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