This week, I was delighted to be invited to the launch of Kanpai Snack Bar’s new winter menu. I spent the night indulging in delicious food, great company and good conversations.
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Taiwanese street food is making a name for itself within the food community, and Toronto is fortunate to have something as boldly innovative and exciting as Kanpai within its city limits.
Taking influence from Taiwan, Japan, and mainland China, this Cabbagetown gem features an eclectic menu with a 90s hip hop vibe (which really spoke to me, a lover of all hip hop) that will surely leave an impression. Everything tasted featured a nice level of spice and balance – for a fire-breather like me!
I sat down to a warm dinner on a cold January night to experience a true dining experience facilitated by Samuel Adams’ and Kanpai’s co-founder Trevor Lui (La Brea Food).
Thanks to my dietary restrictions, I was relegated to the gluten-free portions of the menu – but unlike most other restaurants, I did not find this to be a let down. When I informed Lui of my restrictions, he happily offered to cater to my restrictions, and took the utmost care in ensuring my needs were met. So appreciated!
Kanpai’s gluten-free choices were delicious and carefully crafted. For many of the dishes, it didn’t feel like anything was lost – in fact, for the first time in years this week, I indulged in some very delicious fried chicken. Kanpai’s TFC – that is, Taiwanese Fried Chicken, was well seasoned and although fried, was light and crispy with a nice kick. Served with a skinless tomato salad – I could see myself going back just for this menu item: since Lui was reticent to share his secret recipe with me!
Another favourite of mine was the Kung Pao Cauliflower. Despite rising costs of cauliflower in the city, Kanpai reintroduced this spicy and layered dish with a new look and flavour. The edamame added a nice texture against the cauliflower – and the high spice level was exactly to my liking.
Rarely do I walk into a restaurant and feel that I can even look at the dessert menu. This time, the team at Kanpai served up a delicious dish aptly named “Let Your Backbone Slide” that I happily indulged in. Deep-fried GF mochi balls with a black sesame filling? Yes please! Served over a seasonal fruit puree with nuts – this deconstructed PB&J sandwich was the perfect finish to a delicious meal.
From the more snackier edamame dish “Edamame Said Knock You Out – Plug 2,” and “Nothing But a Green Bean Baby,” to the “Red Rooster” fried rice, the Kanpai Snack Bar menu is well rounded out and truly has something for everyone – including the celiacs of the world. Also, if you’re headed out to Kanpai, make sure to try “The Cheating Communist” a delicious shochu-based drink with lemongrass and lime juice that will knock your socks off.
Thank you to Chef Ike Huang and Trevor Lui for having us, and a big thank you to Branding and Buzzing team and Samuel Adams for facilitating a great night out.
Check out the full menu on the Kanpai Snack Bar website – all items, including non-GF ones included.