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Review: Kanpai, Cabbagetown’s new Taiwanese snack bar, is more of a rowdy pit stop than a dining destination

Review: Kanpai, Cabbagetown's new Taiwanese snack bar, is more of a rowdy pit stop than a dining destination
(Image: Gabby Frank)

Kanpai 252 Carlton St., 416-968-6888

Cabbagetown’s new snack bar is more of a rowdy pit stop than a dining destination: pop in for $3 shots of Jameson, a healthy dose of Tupac and Biggie, and a few capable but forgettable Taiwanese bar snacks. From the long menu, zero in on pig’s ears, served in delicate cured strips and seasoned with chili oil; thick morsels of squid coated in a subtly sweet batter and fried to a perfect crisp; and chunks of chicken tossed with a fiery combination of scallions, green pepper, dried red chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. Vegetables are treated as an afterthought: the kung pao cauliflower is woefully under-seasoned, and the cumin-scented mushrooms are leathery. The OG bao is equally disappointing: the stale bun overwhelms the thin slices of overcooked five-spice pork. And on a recent visit, the much-hyped fried chicken was sold out by 7:30 p.m.

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