The kitchen at Wonton Mama teems with ingredients that range from hoisin sauce to lemongrass from such lands as China, Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Diners perched on sleek white banquettes can sample tempura-shrimp sushi rolls, chicken-fried rice flavoured with Thai basil, and vermicelli noodle soup with spicy scallops and shrimp. Drinks such as sangria and Sapporo complement each dish.
Michael Farber, the owner and head chef at Farbs Kitchen & Wine Bar, finds many of the ingredients for his dishes within 100 miles of the New Edinburgh restaurant. He gets seasonal produce from growers such as Diotte Farm and buys responsibly harvested seafood from The Whalesbone Sustainable Oyster & Fish Supply. Batches of wild mushrooms come from Le Coprin, where foragers hand-pick them from the woodlands of the Boreal Forest. Even his wine list celebrates local offerings with bottles from Niagara and Prince Edward County.
These local ingredients become even more appealing when you see how Farber and his team finesse them. They roast wild mushrooms to add woodsy flavor to poutine, and soak heirloom cucumbers in brine to make the gourmet pickles that garnish plates of steak tartare. Fresh herbs and greens dress up seasonal risotto, and a creative lemon-truffle emulsion brings out the flavors of black cod. When the end of the meal rolls around, don't miss out on a sweet finale of house-made sorbet or ice cream.
In Japan, many people end their workday with a stop at an izakaya, a bar where the happy-hour crowd can grab a stool and order some sake and perhaps even a steaming bowl of ramen. In that spirit, Izakaya has developed strong cocktail and food menus, each of which is rooted in Japanese preparations but integrates international flavors as well. For instance, the cocktail list has 10 kinds of sake and cocktails such as lychee mojitos, but also includes sangria and several varietals of wine. The food menu is mostly small plates, with hot servings of miso soup and tempura prawns or cold plates of oysters and sashimi. And despite its inspirations, Izakaya invites guests to linger beyond just an after-work drink?they often host special events such as sushi-making lessons, sake pairings, and sommelier-led wine tastings.
The din of slurping straws fills the soundscape as enthusiastic customers polish off the last bits of chocolate-milk tea or extract the final tapioca balls from the bottoms of their cups. Others sip intently on fruity frozen slushes and creamy coffee floats, pausing only to laugh at friends' jokes or take nibbles of rice cake. Servers emerge from the kitchen with Asian and Western specialties, including spicy noodle soups and sizzling teriyaki dishes, as well as crunchy sandwiches and juicy hamburger steaks. Come morning, the cooks replace these savoury main-course ingredients with eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit to create hearty breakfast spreads.
Customers perch on cushy black booths in the cozy seating area, where flat-screen televisions glimmer with entertainment such as K-pop music videos. This cheerful space plays host to regular variety shows, when local artists dazzle audiences by singing and reciting poetry.
By mastering the unique synthesis of Southeast Asian flavours that distinguishes Burmese cuisine, Rangoon Restaurant's chef and owner, Ngun Tial, earned the praise of the Ottawa Citizen, which dubbed her a "good ambassador" for her bold flavour combinations and generous portions. Brimming with fresh ingredients such as chicken, seafood, and squash, Tial's signature curries waft the scent of garlic and ginger among the dining room's taupe walls. The chefs also happily prepare a number of meatless entrees—including a signature salad made with green-tea leaves—that easily accommodate both vegetarians and reformed venus flytraps.
Elegant black-and-white furnishings and a sleek martini bar catch the eye of visitors to Openrice Asian Fusion & Lounge, but it's the food that steals the show. Classic dishes from the culinary traditions of Vietnam, Korea, China, and Thailand fill the robust menu, including notables such as pad thai, beef or chicken pho, and red-curry shrimp. Thai-style mussels by the pound are seasoned with lemongrass, scallions, and fragrant basil, and varieties of steamed and fried dumplings pass by tables during dim sum service.