Asian Fusion has been done for a few years and I was looking forward to trying out R&D and trying out the restaurant owned by the first Masterchef Canada – Eric Chong . I watched the show religiously every week and I was overjoyed to hear when Eric won the grand prize. After waiting for nearly half a year to try the restaurant, I was happy to venture into the restaurant to see what they had to offer.
During the Christmas holidays, my boyfriend and I booked early reservations to go to R&D for supper. We went a little earlier to the restaurant as well to have a chat with Eric. R&D is owned by two Masterchefs – Alvin Leung (Demon Chef) and Eric Chong (Rebel Chef). R&D represents both individuals and their unique flare for food. R&D specializes in Asian fusion dishes and is located at 241 Spadina in the heart of Chinatown Toronto.
As mentioned earlier, my boyfriend and I went earlier to visit Eric. Eric is actually a friend of my boyfriend’s from school and we rooted him on throughout the show. It was nice to just be able to catch up with him before our meal.
We sat at the bar for our meal where we could what was happening throughout the restaurant. It was a great spot to be in regards to the restaurant as it was in the centre of the room and we could see behind the counter what the chefs were up to.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was very hip. There was a rustic feel to the restaurant since there was a lot of wood pieces throughout the room. It offered both tables and booths for customers, along with some plush white stools for any customers that were sitting at the bar.
We started out with Son-In-Law Eggs which was essentially tuna tartare with two specially cooked eggs. When you cut the eggs in half, the yolk pours right into the tuna tartare. It was such a delicious dish; my boyfriend and I devoured it in a couple of bites.
The next two items came in bamboo steamers – Grandpa’s Fun Guo and Chili Crab Siu Mai. Grandpa’s Fun Guo was the item that he had practised countless times to impress his grandfather. This is a little different than the one that he made for his audition as it was made with chicken and black truffle. The Fun Guo was freshly made (including the wrap) and it tasted exquisite. You could definitely taste the black truffle in the Fun Guo. The Chili Shrimp Siu Mai were made with shrimp, pork and peekytoe crab. It was a whirl of different tastes in this one siu mai, but it was well combined. I have had a bunch of siu mais in my time and this was a very interesting take on dim sum items.
This was by far one of my favourite dishes that we ordered. It was the famous CSB BBQ Pork Buns. It reminds me a lot of the Pineapple Bao Buns that you get at Chinese dim sum restaurants because the outer texture was nearly the same. It had both elements with a sweet exterior and a salty interior. What was different about this item was that it seemed as if there was hot air trapped inside of the buns. The minute you cut the bun in half, it deflates with an inaudible pop. Although there was not much for presentation, I found this dish to very appetizing.
This was the last item for our appetizers and honestly it was not my favourite. It was a sort of “Asian nacho dish” with chilies, cheese, Chinese “lobster sauce” and beef. These nachos seemed a lot like Jajamyun which is a Chinese/Korean noodle dish made with black bean sauce and pork. The cheese on the dish was a little off-putting because I don’t particularly associate cheese with many Asian dishes. The chilies were a little too spicy for my liking but it really depends on your taste buds. My boyfriend adores all kinds of spicy dishes, so this was a plus in his books.
Moving on to the main meals, we ordered Eric’s Beef Curry. This was beef braised for at least 5-6 hours before being served. It had pieces of lotus root chips, green onions and cilantro. The curry was not too spicy and it was nicely paired with a bowl of fragrant coconut rice. The rice was made with coconut milk instead of water, so the rice was very nique. It was a great match for the braised beef.
The next item was another one from the meat section. A 8oz Flat Iron Steak served with Yucca Fries and the famous Demon Sauce. Yucca root is an edible starch root that is not so common in the American household. These tend to be found in an Asian household and may be a healthier option than other starches. The fries were also served with chipotle mayonnaise, but I was not too fond of the root entirely. The steak was served with medium rare and the demon sauce was used frequently while consuming the dish.
By the time we reached our last item, we were nearly stuffed. Eric’s Lobster & Seafood Chow Mein was the last of our run. The noodles were alike to the ones that you get in Shanghai Chow Mein – a little thicker than the the regular egg chow mein noodles in Cantonese Chow Mein. There was an assortment of ingredients in this dish – lobster, scallops, green onions, bean sprouts and a hint of lime to balance the different tastes. It was a simple dish but a well-prepared dish nonetheless.
Overall I was content with each dish that we ordered. As we ate each dish, we got a detailed description of the dish by Eric himself, so it was a very personal experience. It was a great to have tried a different kind of take on Asian Fusion. I adored the presentation of nearly all the items on the menu and enjoyed almost all the different dishes. The price (including tip) for our whole meal was decent as well. I plan to visit again the next time I get a chance and try more items on the menu.
Let me know if you enjoyed this post and hopefully I’ll be able to write some more in the near future!
~Miss Happy Penguin