Inside Superfresh, the new 4,000-square-foot Asian night market–inspired food hall in the Annex
Superfresh aims to bring the vibe of an outdoor night market indoors. Located in the space that was previously occupied by the Annex Food Hall, it’s 4,000 square feet of food and drink, and every single booth is an Asian-owned or -led business. There are seven street-food vendors, a full-service bar with cocktails on tap, a bodega and a secret speakeasy serving soju, baiju and sake alongside a menu of anju (drinking snacks).
“Everything here conjures memories of growing up as an Asian immigrant child,” says Trevor Lui, who has partnered with Annex Food Market owners James Lee, Jae Pak and Dave Choi for the project. “It’s a mix of things from our culture that we didn’t really share while growing up in a westernized society because we were ashamed of things that were super Asian. But we’ve hit a point where we’re now super proud of them.”
There’s a big focus on food, but Superfresh will aim to highlight and celebrate Asian culture, as well, through community programming that will include artisan markets, pop-ups, live DJs and fashion shows. “Our intention is to support and uplift the many talented Asian creatives in the city and provide a hub to showcase their work,” says Lui.
The space also brings together Asian female entrepreneurs, tapping into the talents of Evelyn Chick (Ahma) for the bar’s beverage design; Stephanie Lui Valentim (Quell) for creative direction; Bianca Chamberlain (TRV Studio Creative) for web and brand design; Nicole Cheng and Karen Lam (FuseNeon) for lighting; and Elaine Quan (EQPR) for public relations. “Asian women are generally the power holders in our households,” says Lui. “But they haven’t necessarily had a public voice. We have to change the narrative because there are so many amazing women creatives. We knew of them and wanted them as part of the project.”
Take a look around and all there is to do, see, eat and drink.
Named after Bloor Superfresh, Toronto’s first 24-hour Korean grocery store in the Annex, the multi-dimensional space serves Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese dishes. Open six days a week (it’s closed on Tuesdays) from noon to late, the complex seats 150 people inside, and another 50 on a patio.
Visitors are greeted with installations that reference Asian customs. The practice of taking off shoes before entering a house is represented by a mat filled with “outside shoes” and a basket of house slippers. (Note: you can and should keep your shoes on at Superfresh.)
Plastered with vintage menus that are a tribute to North American Asian food, the entrance hallway is decorated like an alleyway with colourful plastic strainers, baskets and shoes hanging from the rafters, and faux telephone lines.
Superfresh is outfitted with whimsical décor to resemble a busy East Asian night market: food stalls, neon lighting and faux storefronts like the one below.
Across from the hostess stand, Auntie’s Supply bills itself as an L.A.-style Asian bodega with shelves stocked full of snacks and condiments curated by owner Christina Pack.
Pack’s shop stocks Asian snacks and ingredients including a variety of Pocky, Japanese Kit Kats in seasonal flavours and instant noodles. There are also plus pantry items by independent Asian makers like FlyByJing’s artisanal Sichuan chili crisp and bubble tea–flavoured instant oatmeal.
Auntie’s Supply is also the only place in the city where you’ll find Moshi Sparkling Drink. It comes in yuzu, white peach, and red shiso and apple flavours.
The Superfresh food hall is cashless. Once seated, guests can scan the QR-code menu to order everything from Northern Chinese noodles and Indonesian street food to Japanese snacks and Taiwanese fried chicken through Order Up, a digital app that operates as an open tab. When done, guests simply complete the transaction on the app.
No one can walk past the fortune wall, which features lucky cats and the Superfresh mascot Baby PeeQ, without commemorating their visit with a snap.
Hawking over 40 flavours of “mochins” (mochi muffins) along with “tea-misu” and Basque cheesecakes, The Good Goods specializes in less-sweet, naturally gluten-free baked goods in Asian-Canadian flavours.
Mochins are the delicious love child of butter mochi and muffins. Made with glutinous rice and lightly sweetened, a mochin has a bouncy texture. They come in a rainbow of rotating flavours. $5.50 each.
Tea-misu incorporates matcha tea powder with tiramisu’s layered lady fingers and mascarpone cream ($11). The Basque cheesecake has a blistered top and caramelized crust ($8).
Inspired by snacks found at night markets in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, Baobird’s menu features Taiwanese fried chicken, bao sandwiches and others shareable snacks, like soy-butter dirty fries, soy tea eggs, fried shishitos and chili garlic ginger noodles.
Anyone who’s visited Trevor Lui’s JoyBird Fried Chicken at Stackt Market is familiar with his take on Taiwanese fried chicken, which is dry-rubbed, gluten-free and halal. It’s served with an 11-ingredient house sauce. $14.75.
There are also steamed bao sandwiches stuffed with pan-Asian fillings, like sweet potato, Taiwanese-style pork belly, house-made bulgogi beef or double-fried chicken. Pick two for $15.
Katsupan’s katsu sandos, made with house-made shokupan (Japanese milk bread) come in tamago (a rolled Japanese-style omelet made with dashi and green onions), chicken katsu, pork katsu and vegetable variations. It’s non-fancy food made with care by owners Joseph Rodens and Wilson Shin.
The prawn katsu sando features a juicy prawn patty that’s been breaded, fried and dressed with red chili sauce and Kewpie mayo. It’s sandwiched between two thick slices of shokupan. $14.30.
Those chasing after an elusive loaf of shokupan (one of many pandemic-times food obsessions) can easily find one here in O.G., sweet matcha, French cocoa and vanilla flavours ($5.99 each). The takeaway item can be paired with a jar of milk matcha spread ($4.99).
At Jajan, which means “treat yourself” in Bahasa (an Indonesian dialect), you’ll find sweet, savoury and spicy Indonesian street eats like rendang, goreng and grilled skewers. It’s owned and operated by newcomers to Toronto’s food scene Nicko Hambali, Donny Digdoyo and Injis Prazdi.
Charcoal-grilled satay ayam (chicken skewers) are halal and served with peanut sauce. $15.98.
Beef rendang, served with shrimp chips for scooping.
It’s kitchen theatre at Big Beef Bowl, where owner and noodle master Evan Lu slings Lanzhou-style hand-pulled noodles along with classic cold appetizers and pan-fried dumplings.
Every bowl of noodles is made to order according to the desired thickness (thick, thin) and shape (round, flat). With every slam and pull between his fingers, guests can watch a large lump of dough transform as Lu works it into strands of fresh noodles.
The Lanzhou Classic Beef bathes hand-pulled noodles, veal and cilantro in a house-spiced beef bone broth, made from a seven-year-old master broth. $14.
This soup-less “dry” dish features hand-pulled noodles topped with minced pork in a chili bean sauce. $14.
With an aesthetic inspired by Hong Kong’s Ping Pong Bar and shelves loaded with antiques sourced from Superfresh founders’ parents, Bar Superfresh specializes in Asian-inspired libations. The extensive drink list, created by bartender Evelyn Chick, features crushable highballs and cocktails (some of which are non-alcoholic) infused with Asian ingredients. The extensive drink menu includes beer (Godspeed, Henderson, Louis Cifer, Asahi) as well as a carefully curated sake, soju and baijiu list.
Superfresh is one of two places in the city that has a Toki Highball machine, which spits out chilled whisky and citrus for highballs. They’re all the rage in Japan right now.
The signature cocktails on tap include Switch Kick (bourbon, Amaro Aera, cold brew, Thai iced tea syrup, coconut whipped cream); the Rose Collins (Gekkeikan Junmai sake, bramble, lemon, lychee syrup, rose water, soda); and the Superfresh Spritz (lemongrass-infused vodka, pomelo-ginseng cordial, dry vermouth, prosecco). $14.50 each.
There’s also a secret kitchen that doesn’t have storefront. Ssam Cha (Korean for a third round of social drinking, which traditionally means you’re committed for the rest of the evening), serves a menu of classic anju (Korean bar snacks). You can order Ssam Cha’s dishes at the secret Korean speakeasy that’s located through a hidden back door near the stairway leading to the downstairs washroom. (Note: there is an accessible washroom on the main floor). Guests wishing to gain access to the space need to give the week’s password (you’ll find it on Superfresh’s Instagram account). The first-come, first-served Korean bar seats only 25 and is open from 8 p.m. until late.
Here, chef Jae Hong serves a menu of traditional Korean bar snacks, including small bo ssams, which can be ordered through Ssam Cha’s menu.
The secret anju experience serves soju, baiju and sake, in addition to crafted cocktails that are different than the ones served in the Superfresh Bar. The banana leaf–garnished Punch Punch Peach, is a take on a mai tai made with Brugal 1888 dark rum, Chum Churum peach soju, tahini-cashew orgeat and lime. $17.
Served with roasted seaweed, the Yook Hwae is essentially a sweet-and-savoury beef tartare topped with julienned Asian pear, pea shoots, American cheese and creamy egg yolk. $22.