Table Talk: Joanne Kates reviews Soos


Published:

Soos’s inviting interior.

I eat around. Familiarity with other parts of the world allows me to say with certitude that in Toronto we have the most choices in Asian food of any city in the world. Okay, so the Thai food is better in Thailand and the sushi is better in Japan.

But outside of an Asian cuisine’s home country, we’re not to be outdone. You can see it in the food stores as well as the restaurants. Where else in the world do mainstream supermarkets sell lemongrass and tamarind and lime leaves?

But Malaysian cooking has been under-represented. The Soo family had the estimable MataHari on Baldwin Street for 13 years, but sold it. They’ve now reopened on Ossington at the epicentre of hipsterland, a sweet cosy boîte called Soos, with two rooms. The front room has one wall done in oversize black-and-white stripes with the word Soos in huge print, and the back room is cool in a whole other way: It’s a semi-private table for 12 (think party!) with red chairs and walls papered in elaborate retro print.

The food is from the Chinese-influenced part of Malaysia, the tendencies gently fusion, the prices easy on the wallet. As in pulled chicken tacos in miniature soft flour tortillas, the meat scented with lemongrass. Their satay is some of the yummiest in town, super-tender chicken and beef served with chili-kissed peanut sauce.

More Thai feeling is the slaw made from green mango with sweet red pepper, carrot shreds, toasted peanuts and sesame seeds, with fried shallots on top and ample heat from chilies. All over Malaysia they serve laksa. It’s a soup/stew that recalls the khao soi of northern Thailand minus the deep coconut creaminess of khao soi. Laksa is a curry with just a hint of coconut, in this case with chicken, shrimp and tofu (all nicely cooked), both fat and thin rice noodles and the scent of galangal, turmeric and lemongrass. And some heat.

One doesn’t think of dessert as being a strong suit of Eastern cuisines, but Soos does an astonishing Asian version of crème caramel: They flavour cream cheese with coconut, sweeten with gula mekala (Malaysian for palm sugar) and bake it in little ramekins for a result at once creamy and loaded with flavour. This is not your deli cheese cake.

And Malaysian is not your easiest Asian. The cuisine lacks the sweetness of Chinese food, the thick coconut creaminess of Thai curries, and the sexy raw fish mouth feel of Japanese. Which may partly explain why Malaysian cooking has such scant traction in Toronto. And why the other Ossington bistros seem so much more busy than Soos. But I for one am a little tired of some of the more obvious Asian cuisines as they’re interpreted here, and am happy to be turned on to the subtle pleasures of Soos.

 

The chicken and beef satay with chili-kissed peanut sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

SOOS, 94 Ossington Ave., $35 Dinner for two

Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Cuisine in Paris. She has written articles for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Maclean’s and Chatelaine.

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Eat This Minute: Yonge ’n’ Blythwood’s newest resident Koek Koek is both healthful and stylish

Eat This Minute: Yonge ’n’ Blythwood’s newest resident Koek Koek is both healthful and stylish

Bowls are another main draw. The Obi Wan Bulgogi ($15) has been the top seller to date. (We’re pretty sure that name has helped steer its path to popularity.) Beginning with a bed of black rice, the meal-in-a-bowl is loaded up with purple cabbage, roasted broccolini and a poached egg.
Posted 5 days ago
First Look: Howard Dubrovsky returns to Toronto restaurants with Bar Sybanne

First Look: Howard Dubrovsky returns to Toronto restaurants with Bar Sybanne

It seems Toronto restaurateurs are still enamored with Mediterranean cuisine and Ossington Avenue. The latest addition is Bar Sybanne in the former home of Yours Truly, near the intersection with Dundas West.
Posted 6 days ago
Legalization could lift mental health stigma and allow the use of CBD oil

Legalization could lift mental health stigma and allow the use of CBD oil

Ideas perpetuated through prohibition have given birth to the “stoner” image and also led to the widespread acceptance that THC, one of the psychoactive components in cannabis, will cause schizophrenia. This notion has kept dozens of researchers from exploring the anti-psychotic potential of cannabidiol (CBD), another cannabis compound that is non-psychoactive and shows promise in treatment of psychosis.
Posted 6 days ago
Taste of Iceland brings a nordic preview to Toronto this weekend

Taste of Iceland brings a nordic preview to Toronto this weekend

Taste of Iceland returns to the city in full force this year; hosted by Iceland Naturally. The four-day long festival hopes to inspire Torontonians to soak up the Nordic country’s cuisine, music, film and literature. Iceland is full of enchanting natural wonders, beauty and creativity - but if you’ve yet to visit the breathtaking land, fear not, they’re conveniently setting up (temporary) digs in the heart of downtown Toronto with numerous engaging and informative events — many of which are free.
Posted 1 week ago
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module