Introducing: A-OK Foods, a new ramen and snack bar from the owners of Yours Truly
Earlier this year, Yours Truly shifted to an all-tasting-menu format, eliminating the popular bar snacks that had helped build the restaurant’s good name. Now, owners Matt Cherkas, Dan Hawkins and Aleem Jamal-Kabani are bringing some of those favourites back at A-OK Foods, a new snack and ramen bar open for lunch and dinner on Queen West between Ursa and County General. The changing menu, led by head chef Chris Jang, features Chinese, Korean and Mexican flavours, but the big draw will no doubt be the chewy house-made ramen noodles, a rarity in Toronto, made on a special machine imported from Korea and then aged for up to three days.
The barebones 35-seat space, designed by Jessica Nakanishi and Emil Teleki of MSDS Studio, evokes the relaxed, outdoorsy feel of a hawker alley, with turquoise picnic tables and counters made from stacked cinder blocks topped with sheet metal (the floor tiles will soon be done over in grey). Both Jang and sous chef Geraldo Quintero are alumni of Yours Truly, and while they trained in fine dining, they share a love of slinging casual plates to a buzzing room. Unlike most Toronto ramen shops, A-OK uses a chicken-based shoyu broth for its soup ($10.50), which is served with sous vide pork belly, soft-boiled egg and a crisp fried seaweed chip topped with nutty sesame seeds. The snack plates include KFC (Korean fried chicken) wings ($8.50), served with spiced wedge fries with sour cream and a Mexican fuego hot sauce, and yakitori-inspired skewers ($5, $8.50 for two) glazed in a mole-like chili-chocolate sauce and dressed with sour cream and cotija cheese. There’s also cold somen noodles topped with a spicy pickled snail salad ($9), tofu ceviche ($8) and Sichuan tsukemen ($10.50), a noodle dish served with Sichuan peppercorn- and chili-laced black bean sauce. A-OK’s drink menu is simple, featuring a pilsner on tap ($6), wine ($7) and horchata ($3.50), with hard-to-find cans of Kikusui sake ($13) on their way in December. Oh, and fans of Yours Truly’s salt cod inari will be happy to hear that A-OK will be selling the finger-friendly stuffed tofu pouches too ($7).
A-OK Foods, 930 Queen St. W., second floor, 647-352-2243, @AOKfoods