Introducing: Kanpai, a taste of Taiwan’s night market scene, in Cabbagetown

Introducing: Kanpai, a taste of Taiwan’s night market scene, in Cabbagetown

(Image: Gabby Frank)

Name: Kanpai Snack Bar
Neighbourhood: Cabbagetown
Contact: 252 Carlton, 416-968-6888, @kanpaisnackbar
Owners: Trevor Lui, Ike Huang
Chef: Ike Huang

The Food: Salty, sweet and spicy snacks inspired by Taiwan’s xiaochi (“small eats”), found at the country’s night markets. “Just like the Spanish have pintxos and tapas, and the Mediterranean has mezze, the Taiwanese have xiaochi,” explains Lui. Food here is meant to encourage drinking, and vice-versa. The menu is made up of traditional bar snacks like fried and spiced anchovies (move over, pretzels), hot and cold small plates for sharing (bao, fried tofu) and one family-sized fried chicken dinner that comes with a six-pack of PBR.

The Drinks: The bubble tea–less drink list is made up of 12 potables on tap, including six beers, Izumi sake from the Distillery, two VQA wines, two classic cocktails and Station Cold Brew coffee. There’s also a short list of house cocktails (including one from west side bar chum, Montauk), caesars with an Asian twist (out with Worcestershire, in with shoyu), craft beer in bottles and cans, a couple of ciders and $3 shots of Jameson. Also, “punch pots,” a daily rotating cocktail made in an oversized teapot and meant to serve four to five thirsty people—the bar’s take on Chinatown’s famous “cold tea.”

The Place: Design company Green Tangerine took what was previously Ginger Restaurant and transformed it using as much reclaimed material as possible (including, for the walls, a whole lot of skids collected from shopping mall docks).