New Asian Fusion Restaurant: Tè on Ossington
One year ago, Grace and Tina, now Co-owners of Tè on Ossington gave up the Toronto fashion game to pursue their passion project of combining Taiwanese & Korean style home cooking and street food with kitschy North American bar food. The result, Tè. A funky modern resto with a Spanish name perfectly nestled on the Ossington Strip. Decorated in deep blue tones, it’s a tranquil setting that’s inviting to patrons. Tè, the Spanish word for Tea is an homage to the former Spanish Fashion company that the Women worked for, but if you take a closer look, it also represents the inspiration for the menu in multiple ways. The presentation of the food is tapas style, smaller dishes that everyone can enjoy and share. As well, all of the cocktails combine different flavors of tea- ranging from Matcha to Chai and even a playful take on bubble tea’s, mini tapioca pearls that swim at the bottom of each cocktail.
“It was about bringing the flavors that we grew up with to people that may have never experienced them before” Notes Grace – a first time chef. “We created items that were a play on traditional Korean Dishes. For example, we would sub out the rice in our pork belly dish for something with a little more of a North America appeal like bread”. It’s those creative decisions that allow Te to be playful and out of the box with their menu.
I start off with the mango black tea cocktail which is heavy on the whiskey and to my surprise the drink is filled with mini tapioca pearls that I delightfully sip up. As the drink begins to settle, I notice that the tea has more of a chance to steep, really bringing together the tastes and highlighting the mango.
Dishes begin coming to the table and I can’t decide where to begin, so my eyes lead me to the Pork Belly Crostini. The deep Korean spice is prevalent in the slow cooked belly, the meat is tender and the toast soaks in the lovely juices making it a bit soft. Garnished w Cilantro, there’s a hint of freshness to the heaviness of this dish, but a great bite to start off with.
Next, I move onto the kimchi Ravioli and I really want to love this dish. Empanada sized golden fried ravioli drizzled with a wasabi honey. I’m beyond excited to taste the spicy and tangy flavor of traditionally homemade kimchi, but it’s being overpowed by the wasabi- which is the dominant and competing flavor- There isn’t a huge balance with the honey, you taste both flavors separately. This is a great shareable dish, but maybe needs less wasabi and a touch more kimchi as the spicy element.
I make my way to what is going to be my favorite bite, the savoury squid and chive pancake (Chon) which takes me back to my time in Laos and buying coconut, chive pancake bites from street vendors. The street food aspect of Tè is really highlighted in this dish. The squid is tender and not over done, the chives offer a wonderful brightness with touch of spice and the pancake an excellent consistency, served with a vinegar soy sauce which brings that salty slightly acidic taste on the palette.
Because everything is tapas style, it’s easy to sit down with a tea infused cocktail and spend some time really enjoying each dish – bulgogi sliders w wasabi mayo, topped w a runny quail egg to add richness to a slightly sweet flavor. A Korean style of glutinous rice dumplings (Tteok Bok Ki) served pizza style in a sweet and tongue numbing spicy red pepper sauce topped with stringy Mozzarella are just some of the sharable snacks on the menu.
One of the stand out dishes is the Taiwanese Fried Chicken and although, we see fried chicken EVERYWHERE these days because it’s become the new taco, this version really is a star dish. As it’s presented, you may think to yourself that it’s been slightly overdone, but in fact it’s been marinated which lends to the darker colour. The aroma is warm and inviting – hitting your sense of smell with cinnamon, 5 spice, pepper and secret Tawainese spice. The skin is crispy and salty and not over powering the tender chicken with coating.
I finish the meal with a matcha infused cheesecake with homemade whipped cream. The consistency is spot on, creamy, dense slightly flaky, but my palette is wanting more matcha. You get the tea flavor on the back, but I would have loved more of that chalky fresh Matcha flavor.
Tè is open for brunch and dinner and even serves a late night snack menu until 2am. Reservations can be made by calling (647) 348-8009. Visit their website here: www.tetoronto.com