What’s on the menu at AP, chef Antonio Park’s new restaurant on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre
Including premium fish, Osetra caviar, Wagyu beef and a fleck of gold leaf here and there
Contact info: 55 Bloor St. W., 51st flr., aprestaurants.com, @aprestaurants
Owners: Scale Hospitality (Toronto Beach Club, Chica, Lapinou, Figo, Byblos)
Chefs: Chef-partner Antonio Park, corporate executive chef Ted Corrado
Accessibility: Fully accessible
A decade ago, Canada’s domestic Japanese food scene was far from sophisticated. Chashu ramen and AYCE sushi spots dominated the landscape. In 2012, when Antonio Park opened his eponymous restaurant, Park, in Montreal, he was one of a handful of chefs steering Canadians toward their newfound love of high-end, new-gen Nikkei. Now, he’s bringing his Edo-rooted fare to Toronto (with a little help from Scale’s Hanif Harji).
In 2018, Park was tapped to lead the food program at Pick 6ix, Drake’s swish sports bar on Yonge. Unfortunately, the venture failed to find its footing and shuttered in 2020. “We’re all human. We fail. But that just means you have to get up and do better. I tell my kids to fail hard because it makes you stronger,” says Park. “Coming back to Toronto, AP is my ticket to prove it to them.”
For those unfamiliar with Park’s restaurants, he describes his cuisine as Japanese-focused with pan-Asian ingredients, South American flavours and Canadian influences (both French and English). “I’m Korean—I’ve got kimchi in my blood—but I dream in Spanish: I was born in Argentina and grew up there and in Paraguay and Brazil. So I don’t want to call this fusion. It’s more than that; it’s an expression of my heart, because these are the cultures and flavours of my life.”
The menu is a collaborative effort: Harji and Corrado helped hone Park’s vision for a Toronto audience. Expect an unabashedly upscale, Yorkville-appropriate dining experience featuring premium fish, Osetra caviar, Wagyu beef and—of course—a fleck of gold leaf here and there.
Although there are a number of items flown in from abroad, Park is making an effort to source as much fish as possible from Canada’s east coast. “There’s the term farm-to-table—this is sea-to-table,” says Park, whose sister lives in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. “We bought a refrigerated Sprinter van, and because my brother-in-law knows a lot of fisherfolk, we’re able to bring shipments back and forth ourselves.” This means the same tuna is butchered and split among Park’s various restaurants, with some choice cuts sent over to Toronto.
The tight wine program, sourced from classic winemaking regions (Italy, France, Germany), was designed to complement the menu’s range of flavours. So, whether you opt for umami or delicate fish, there’s a glass (or a bottle) for that. For something a bit funkier, flip to the sake selection, which is a mix of traditional brewers and new-wave makers experimenting with natural fermentation, barrel aging, and more. There are cocktails, too, most of which are riffs on classics made with Japanese spirits and Asian ingredients.
Previously home to the One Eighty and Panorama, the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre is famous for its unobstructed views—and the nearly one-minute private elevator ride it takes to reach the rooftop bar. The space is under new ownership, but the sweeping vistas remain the focal point. “After being up there for 10 seconds, taking over the space was a no-brainer—it’s one of the most unique locations in the city,” says Harji, a long-time friend of Park’s who has been looking for a way to woo the Montreal-based chef back to Toronto.