Where bartender and pastry chef Farzam Fallah gets to-go torched sushi, fried chicken and dim sum

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Where bartender and pastry chef Farzam Fallah gets to-go torched sushi, fried chicken and dim sum

We’re asking Toronto chefs and restaurateurs which takeout dishes have been getting them through the pandemic

After earning recognition for his whimsical sweet plates at Richmond Station, pastry wunderkind Farzam Fallah left the city for Hong Kong back in 2016. But he’s back in Toronto now, and has traded in his chef’s whites for a cocktail shaker, managing the bar programs of Peter Pan Bistro, Marben and The Cloak Bar. As a side hustle, he’s teamed up with Louis Lim (Richmond Station) to launch Hawker Dessert, a Covid-born dessert-focused pop-up.

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” Fallah says. “Sure I lost my job at the start of the pandemic and there was a lot to figure out, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I love.” Thirsty Torontonians can find Fallah’s pre-mixed cocktails at Marben or Peter Pan Bistro’s bottle shops. He also runs The Cloak Bar’s new cocktail hotline, where guests DM their custom cocktail requests for pickup. Meanwhile, his Hawker Dessert pop-ups happen on a whim and are announced on Instagram. “We try to do them once a month,” says Fallah. “But honestly, we usually have them whenever we find an ingredient that we are both excited about.”

Fallah and his partner usually order in for special occasions and on evenings they don’t feel like cooking. “It’s almost like going out for a meal. We’ve definitely been ordering takeout more often since the pandemic as we miss our regular restaurants.” Here are a few of his favourite spots to get lunch or dinner to-go.

J San Sushi Bar

186 Jarvis St., 647-339-1993, jsansushibar.ca

“I had a regular sushi spot before this place came along. They opened very softly at the beginning of the pandemic and have only been doing takeout since their first day. My partner and I were blown away by the quality and attention to detail when we first ordered from them, and they have become our go to sushi spot. You know if the takeout is this phenomenal, that dine-in will be mind-blowing.”

Go-to item 1: Torched sushi combo
Tasting notes: “I especially enjoy the torched scallop from the sushi combo—it’s definitely the bite I save for last as it’s super fatty, slightly sweet and the perfect thing to savour after eating everything else.”

Go-to item 2: Deluxe sashimi combo
Tasting notes: “It’s simple, straightforward and delicious. There is no fuss and I can always trust its fantastic quality.”

Uncle Ray’s Food & Liquor

9 Church St., 647-965-3666, whothehellisuncleray.com

“Because fried chicken! That’s why. We had a good friend who used work here and he introduced us one evening. We’ve been hooked ever since. It’s comfort food that hits the spot—mac and cheese, crispy fried chicken, biscuits—all the words that scream comfort. We love this place.”

Go-to item 1: The Lightning Plate (buttermilk breaded boneless chicken thighs, Texas toast, spicy dunk, cayenne, pickles, house habanero sauce, hot honey)
Tasting notes: “The fried chicken is perfectly seasoned and juicy but the breading stays crispy for days. And we should know because we’ve kept leftovers in the fridge—it’s still delicious days later.”

Go-to item 2: Corn bread
Tasting notes: “Their corn bread is like pound cake; it’s buttery and flavourful. And they never skimp on the sides of butter and hot honey.”

Rol San

323 Spadina Ave., 416-977-1128, no website

“My old kitchen team used to frequent Rol San on the regular for post-service hangouts. We really miss those days of being able to sit around a big table after we just crushed service—and ready to crush dim sum late into the night. They serve classic staples and it always brings back good memories.”

Go-to item 1: Har gow
Tasting notes: “This is our staple order at any dim sum restaurant.”

Go-to item 2: Deep fried pumpkin with yolk and cashew
Tasting notes: “The one special item here is the deep-fried pumpkin—you definitely need to try that if you haven’t already. It’s almost like a deep-fried mochi with a runny egg yolk filling. It’s the perfect thing to end a meal with.