What’s on the menu at SoSo Food Club, a new Chinese restaurant and cocktail bar in Little Portugal
Name: SoSo Food Club
Contact: 1166 Dundas St. W., sosofoodclub.com, @sosofoodclub
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal
Previously: The Contender
Owners: Daniel Tal (Dudebox), Thomas Masmejean, Matt Eckenweiler, Nancy Chen (Otto’s Döner, Otto’s Bierhalle, Mansion), Nav Sangha (Otto’s Bierhalle, Miss Things), Steve Goldby and Sarah Brown-Duncan (Leeftail Co., Crows Nest Barbershop)
Chef: Jasper Wu (Miss Things)
The mainland Chinese–focused menu isn’t locked to a single regional cuisine: there are dishes from Shaanxi, Sichuan and Shanghai. The occasional Cantonese plate—like a special of seabream and clams in black bean sauce—also make the odd appearance. Almost half the menu is vegan or vegetarian. “A lot of Chinese restaurants like to advertise that they’re ‘excellent,’ ‘legendary’ or ‘famous’ for their food,” says Chen, who wanted to poke fun at that practice with the name SoSo. “My mom doesn’t get it. She thinks we should have called it SoSo Happy—which actually isn’t a bad name.”
The short wine card focuses on biodynamic wines that are low in sulfites. The bottles on offer will change regularly as bar manager Lia Said seeks out new stuff from low-intervention producers. Said wanted to bring in Chinese wines but there’s strong domestic demand for them, so few bottles are exported (which means the markup would have to be astronomical). Instead, she’s making the drinks list on-theme by creating cocktails made with Chinese spirits and spices.
For SoSo’s vibrant colour scheme, Chen drew inspiration from Hong Kong, where she grew up. She and her fellow co-owners (who built much of the 75-seat space themselves) also looked at a number of North Korean interiors when drawing up the pastel-softened Brutalist space (tiled support beams, concrete bar, exposed ducts painted baby pink). Soso bills itself as a “food club” because it will be hosting monthly food events, like noodle-pulling classes and wine education nights. After 11 p.m., the back room turns into a dance floor.