Three things that makes me cringe: fork scratching on a plate, drivers who don’t signal and the Asian fusion concept. Ugh.
Listen, I love the idea of flavours from my motherland and surrounding areas commingling with other countries when it’s done right.
Calgary-based restaurants Anju and Foreign Concepts are the kings of Asian fusion manipulating Korean and Vietnamese flavours. Although I don’t live in Calgary anymore, I still fantasize about Anju’s innovative approach to my fave dish: kimchi chicken waffles with sriracha chicken gravy.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the same glorious experiences in Toronto specifically at Lee’s and R&D. What fool would pay $32 for Luckee’s shrimp cheung fun when you can head over to a gritty Chinatown mom and pop shop for a more authentic dish and pay a fraction of the price?
Fortunately, my disenchantment unexpectedly turned around during a recent in Little Italy. I haven’t been to this area in the city since 2004 when the streets lined up with pizzerias and espresso bars. My oh my, how things have changed in a decade.
Tucked in an unassuming house, Pinky Cha Che is like finding heaven in Hanoi on College Street.
The meal started with Tiger’s Milk Ceviche ($16) comprised of a fresh array of seafood – yellow fin tuna, scallops, surf clams – saturated in avocado, coconut milk, lime, red chili peppers, and cilantro served with crispy taro chips. A psychedelic flavours of tart, sweet and spicy – a true reflection of Vietnamese flavours.
Needing to incorporate vegetables in the meal, we ordered the mango papaya salad ($15). Despite the addition of the grilled squid, this was a generic salad lacking any cause for celebration.
Then for the finale, we had the So Fly! Rice ($17), an ordinary presentation with extraordinary flavours. Think standard fried rice with deep-fried soft shell crab, salmon roe, tobiko dancing with nuoc mam pha – the pungent fish-based sauce.
Pinky Cha Ch is an exceptionally exquisite restaurant utilizing and celebrating the best ingredients in traditional Vietnamese fare. So perhaps Asian fusion is more in the
cringe-worthy noteworthy category but scratch your fork against the plate, I’ll freak out.
Pinky Cha Che
53 Clinton St