Chef Francis Bermejo gives short ribs the respect they fully deserve. He slow-braises them in a marinade of soy and sesame oil—the ideal combo of sugariness and nuttiness. They’re then finished on the grill; topped with sesame seeds, chilies and oyster mushrooms; and plated with a mound of steaming jasmine rice. It’s one of the many standouts on a menu that playfully skips around Asia (pork belly with apple and pear kimchee, deep-fried tofu and shiitake mushrooms, beef tataki) but mostly takes inspiration from Bermejo’s birthplace, the Philippines. The emphasis is on sharable plates and snacks—like a mini sandwich of longganisa, a garlicky Filipino pork-and-chili sausage, with shredded cabbage and manchego—which is in keeping with the two-level party-every-night space semi-hidden at the back of the clubby Templar Hotel. The trendiest bit: a list of thoroughly tasty teetotaller drinks, like the Jungle Fruit punch with zero-proof spirits and a pineapple shrub.
Mother Tongue, 348 Adelaide St. W., 647-243-5858, mothertongue.ca