Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because Chinatown is getting a restaurant makeover

Reasons to Love Toronto Now: because Chinatown is getting a restaurant makeover

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

In Chinatown you can still find butcher shops with mahogany-skinned Peking ducks swinging in the windows and produce stands with overflowing bins of fermented mysteries. But for the first time, we’re seeing sprinkles of glamour too. Most recently, MasterChef Canada judge Alvin Leung and the show’s first winner, Eric Chong, opened R&D on Spadina just north of Queen. The artfully graffitied walls and softly bumping ’90s R&B soundtrack give a youthful edge to the otherwise serene space, with its double-height ceilings and plush grey banquettes. The food straddles old and new: Grandpa’s Fun Guo has a surprise hit of black truffle, and spindly egg rolls are amped up with spicy pickled bamboo shoots. Just up the street is Lucky Red, where they sling cocktails goosed with Sriracha and soy sauce, and People’s Eatery, with its platters of Peking duck and seared foie gras. All of these restaurants speak to Chinatown’s past, but they’re also squarely aimed at a voguish future.

(Image: Gabby Frank) R&D, short for Rebel and Demon, serves Chinese dishes with modern twists, like charred octopus with choy sum chimichurri. It’s the most ambitious of the new Chinatown restaurants that are injecting some welcome glam into the gritty strip. (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

(Image: Gabby Frank) (Image: Gabby Frank)
 

(Image: Gabby Frank) Spicy sichuan lamb–filled Dragon Buns (Image: Gabby Frank)