Introducing: Mr. Pong’s Bar, a new Little Portugal watering hole from the people behind Cold Tea
Mr. Pong’s Real Food, the Canadian-Chinese restaurant that provided fuel for so many late nights on Queen West in the ’90s, closed its doors in 2005. Leave it to Oliver Dimapilis, Matthew LaRochelle and Stacey Welton, the folks behind Kensington’s Cold Tea (which celebrates a different proud Toronto tradition), to revive the name for Mr. Pong’s Bar, a new watering hole in Little Portugal. The venture is a collaboration with The Lakeview’s Alex Sengupta and Richard Pope, and features food by Robbie Hojilla (Ursa, Woodlot). But a glance at the artwork on the walls reveals that this is not the Mr. Pong’s you may remember: the jovial, bushy-tailed panda bear mascot has been replaced by a blood-thirsty machete-wielding comic book character who takes out the bad guys and then goes home for a smoke.
Dimapilis tells us he’s confident that mature adults of drinking age will be able to handle artist Andres Miranda’s ultra-violent take on the iconic bear. The small 30-seat room also features a wraparound bar, some neon signage and a wall of Chinese newsprint at the back. Downstairs, there’s a peep show booth that will house a rotating art installation (and, we’re told, other sundry novelties to look in on). Manager Alex Ioannou (Ronnie’s Local 069) and bartender Matt Turenne (Parts and Labour) buck the craft cocktail and beer trends, favouring hipster-approved cans of Stroh’s ($4) and shots of Jameson ($5) instead. Hojilla has created a rotating menu of unconventional spring rolls ($6 for two), which currently includes beef cheek adobo, vegetarian, poutine, quince with mascarpone (a dessert roll) and lumpiang shanghai made from his mother’s recipe. The concept, of course, is a cheeky nod to the old Mr. Pong’s slogan: “Home of the jumbo egg roll.”
Mr. Pong’s Bar, 1576 Dundas St. W., 647-748-6627, @Mr_Pongs