Introducing: R&D, Chinatown’s new Alvin Leung and Eric Chong co-production
Contact: 241 Spadina Ave., 416-586-1241, rdspadina.com, @RDSpadina
Previously: Strada 241
Owner: Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation, Hong Kong) and Eric Chong (winner of season one of MasterChef Canada)
Chefs: Alvin Leung, Eric Chong and Nelson Tsai (Trump Toronto, Auberge du Pommier)
The Food: More new wave pan-Asian cuisine to add to Toronto’s growing fusion obsession (Chantecler, DaiLo, People’s Eatery, Patois). “I took Eric traveling throughout Asia to create our concepts. His father is from Malaysia and my family came from Hong Kong, so the flavours of the menu represent our roots,” says Leung. Although the MasterChef bad guy earned three Michelin stars with his sometimes-shocking “x-treme” Chinese cuisine, R&D’s menu is devoid of shock-and-awe plates; instead, it’s made up of whimsical riffs on classic dishes. Poutine comes topped with silken tofu and General Sanders’ Chicken pairs fried bird with Sichuan maple syrup and Hong Kong egg waffles. A number of Chong’s MasterChef Canada dishes, including his lobster chow mein, also made the cut.
The Drinks: Playful cocktails with Asian twists, like the Piña Colada Bubble Tea dotted with tapioca pearls and the Red Star Punch made with oolong-infused gin. The punch can be ordered as “cold tea” for four that arrives in a teapot obscured in a cloud of dry ice smoke. A selection of wine, sake and beer is also available (the latter of which can also be ordered “cold tea”–style).
The Place: Faux crumbling walls and oversized U-shaped lights that are meant to allude to China’s vertical growth. The open-concept space is divided into three dining areas and can seat 85; a row of seven stools looks onto the open kitchen. Back dining room walls are splashed with graffiti, one mural featuring Chairman Mao complete with a Paul Stanley–style red star over one eye.