What’s on the menu at 915 Dupont, a Japanese-inspired listening lounge, restaurant, cocktail bar and café

What’s on the menu at 915 Dupont, a Japanese-inspired listening lounge, restaurant, cocktail bar and café

Including boozy milk-based drinks

A spread of Japanese-inspired dishes at 915 Dupont, a restaurant, cafe, listening lounge, bar and event space in Toronto

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Name: 915 Dupont
Contact: 915 Dupont St., @915dupont
Neighbourhood: Dovercourt Village
Owner: Nigel Wang (135 Ossington, Carbonic, 450 Dufferin)
Chef: Arush Singh
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
In 2015, Nigel Wang, the 30-year-old owner of three other stylish Toronto cafés, emigrated from Qingdao to Oshawa to study at Ontario Tech University. “I had no idea where I was going. I kind of just pointed to the map and decided that’s where I was going to go. When I arrived, I was surprised to see that most of the people were white. At least it helped me with my English,” he laughs.

The chef and owners of 915 Dupont, a listening lounge and restaurant in Toronto
Singh (second from left) and Wang (centre) with a few of their collaborators

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Wang commuted to Toronto as much as he could, hanging out in the city’s coffee shops and bonding with the people he met over his deep passion for the brewing process. “Just before I moved, the third-wave coffee movement was having its moment, and I got really into it,” says Wang. “It really helped me make connections once I was here.” Before he knew it, he’d ditched university (and Oshawa) and signed up for the culinary program at George Brown. After he graduated, he opened up his first café, dubbed (and located at) 135 Ossington. The rest, as they say, is history.

Hidden within a warehouse on an industrial stretch of Dupont, 915 is Wang’s attempt to spread his wings. A hi-fi listening bar by night, café by day and resto-lounge a few evenings a week, the chill new spot unites morning people with night owls. And with Wang’s charisma, flair for what’s in fashion (chess, anyone?) and attention to detail, the proposition seems distinctly possible.

The menu at 915 Dupont comes in a record album

The food

The menu is courtesy of Arush Singh, who emigrated from India in 2015 to pursue a culinary career, and consists of seasonal izakaya-style small plates. “For me, it’s very important that my Indian background informs the flavours of the dishes,” says Singh. Case in point: the beef tartare, with the traditional egg yolk subbed out for yogurt, giving the dish a different source of the required acid and fat.

The beef tartare at 915 Dupont flavours chopped sirloin with harissa, a blend of herbs and spices, tomatoes, plums, mint and compressed yogurt
For his beef tartare, Singh mixes chopped sirloin with a house-made harissa paste, then adds chopped plums, tomatoes, and compressed yogurt and mint. The dish is finished with fresh marigold petals and served with a seeded sourdough toast from Bloordale’s Blue Collar Bakery. $17


A plate of house pickles at 915 Dupont
The house pickles are Singh’s elevated take on kimchi. Thin slices of daikon and cucumber are salted and massaged to remove their moisture, then compressed in a vinaigrette of Korean chilies, gochugaru, mirin, brown sugar and rice vinegar. The bright dish is elegantly plated, finished with more of the same vinaigrette, and sprinkled with scallions and toasted sesame seeds. $7


A plate of charcoal-grilled caulilini
The caulilini (which is really fun to say) is a punchy vegan option. The long-stemmed veg is lightly blanched; seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper; then finished on a charcoal grill. It’s served atop a cashew-and-sesame sauce inspired by Japanese goma-ae and finished with some salsa macha. $13


Sous vide pork belly served with blistered shishito peppers and squash purée
Singh cooks the pork belly sous-vide overnight with thyme and garlic, then sears it to order on the charcoal grill and gives it a ginger-honey glaze. It’s served with a buttery vadouvan squash purée and charcoal-grilled shishitos. $15


The corn sabayon at 915 Dupont is a sweet and savoury dessert
The corn sabayon is a sweet-and-savoury dessert that hints at the flavours of apple pie with cheddar cheese. For the deconstructed dish, Singh makes a corn custard crème anglaise and mixes it with diced apples and pears that have been compressed in mastiha, a Greek liqueur. For crunch, he adds sugar-frosted walnuts, a brown butter sourdough crumb and dehydrated corn pulp crackling. To finish: a sprinkling of marigold petals. $8

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The drinks

While the bar has a deep-cuts selection of whiskey, a small but rounded sake list and beer on tap, it’s the cocktail card that gives this listening bar its groove. Heavily inspired by Japanese cocktail culture, the 14 cocktails (half of which are highballs) are thoughtfully constructed and made with ingredients like Sichuan pepper, dill, lemongrass and–wait for it—milk. “We don’t want to be a fancy cocktail bar,” says Wang. “We want people to be able to come in, crush their drinks and have a good experience. That’s what it’s all about.”

915 Dupont's Kaikan Fizz, a milk-based cocktail
The Kaikan fizz is a niche Japanese drink that was developed during the Second World War so soldiers could hide the fact that they were drinking alcohol. Basically a gin fizz disguised as a glass of milk, this creamy cocktail is a blend of highly botanical gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and milk. $18


The Tree of Life, a gin-based cocktail at 915 Dupont in Toronto
For the Tree of Life, dill-infused gin is stirred with lime juice, passionfruit, Sichuan pepper, lemongrass, milk and mastiha. The drink is garnished with a cracker made from dehydrated fruit pulp and served with a branded ice cube. $18


The Guangzhou Lemon Tea at 915 Dupont
The Guangzhou Lemon Tea was inspired by a lemon tea that originated in Guangzhou (obviously). The easy-drinking citrusy cocktail is a stirred union of Earl Grey, brown sugar, lemon juice, rum and house-carbonated, PH-balanced water. It’s served on rocks and garnished with a lemon slice. $18
The space

Accessed from a sterile hallway, the moody listening bar is filled with sound equipment that could make any audiophile blush. The space—with its hanging plants, brown palette and wood panelling—screams ’70s living room in the coziest way possible. The addition of a sunken tiki hut in a bamboo enclosure is a disorienting and delightful dash of Gilligan’s Island.

The exterior of 915 Dupont, a café, bar, restaurant and listening lounge in Toronto's Dovercourt Village

The hallway leading to 915 Dupont, a Toronto listening lounge and restaurant

Sake bags sit outside the entrance to 915 Dupont in Toronto

Record players and records at 915 Dupont, a listening lounge in Toronto's west end

Inside 915 Dupont, a listening lounge in Toronto

915 Dupont, a listening lounge in Toronto, looks like someone's living room

Inside 915 Dupont, a Japanese-inspired listening lounge in Toronto's Dovercourt Village

A Japanese kite painted to look like a fish hangs from the ceiling at 915 Dupont, a listening lounge in Toronto

Inside 915 Dupont, a Toronto listening lounge, there are plenty of different seating areas

A cluster of couches inside 915 Dupont, a Japanese-inspired listening lounge in Toronto

The bar inside 915 Dupont