R&D Spadina3:30 PM
R&D (@RDspadina), is a restaurant located on Spadina in Chinatown opened by Eric Chong and Alvin Leung. They both were engineers prior to following their calling to be become chefs, and I think a lot of people are glad they did. Alvin is a Michelin-star chef, while Eric was the first person to take the Masterchef Canada title last year in 2014. Safe to say I was really excited to visit R&D to give their menu a try.
When you step in, you're greeted by a long hallway with a beautiful bar set up on the side, and a couple tables on the left. You can eat at these tables, but it seems like a place to sit back and have a couple drinks. I've heard many great thinks about the mixologist at R&D, so I was really excited to try some of their cocktails.
R&D has an open concept kitchen, with a couple seats at the chef's table to watch the action throughout dinner service (which is where I sat). There was a much larger seating area in the back.
(lol the rice cooker! Classic kitchen essential)
As mentioned before, their cocktails are a must try.
I ordered the Red Star Punch, which was a mixture of an oolong infused gin, hawthorn, mandarin, lemon, and shanghai rhubarb bitters. It was absolutely delicious.
V ordered the 510 Caesar, which was black garlic & chinese mushroom infused vodka, in-house R&D chili sauce, hoisin infused worcestershire, lapsang tincture, and mott's clamato.
We were also given a tasting of the alcohol in our cocktails so that we can really taste novelty of the infused gin and vodka. I've never had anything like it! The mushroom in the vodka was definitely something I've never tried before - a very interesting taste! You'll never find something like this anywhere else for sure.
First up was the shiitake polenta fries with mushroom ketchup. I was surprised at how good these were. I didn't have high expectations as they were just fries, but they were delicious.
It was also my first time trying polenta, and it was good! The ketchup was also really tasty and went well with the fries.
We didn't order this, but I couldn't help but take a picture of R&D's famous duck duck bao dish, a 76hr brome lake pekin duck, before it left the kitchen. It is also served with steamed baos, smoked plum sauce & 3 slaws (cucumber, scallion & hoisin // mango, asian pear & plum // cabbage, carrot & ginge). Just wow. I can't imagine it tasting anything but delicious.
Super creepy shot but I found it very fascinating to watch Eric himself cook in real life after watch him on MasterChef!
I was told to definitely order anything named after Eric's grandpa. Not sure why, but I listened and I'm glad I did. Here is grandpa's fun guo.
It was stuffed with chicken and black truffle, and it was so good. I'm Asian (lol) so I've been to many dim sum restaurants in my life and had my fair share of dumplings. I have to say I've never had a 'gourmet' one and it was so good!
We also ordered general sanders chicken, which came with HK egg waffles. The two sauces on the side were the kung pao sauce and sichuan maple syrup.
The chicken was a little too fried for my liking - one piece had literally no meat and just batter. But I guess it balanced out since the other piece had a lot of meat. However, it was still a little too dry for my liking. The HK egg waffles surprised me though. At first, we thought we got a really burnt one since it was really hard. Except, when we actually ate it, it was half crunchy and half hot and soft!
For dessert, we ordered the crispy smoked milk, with lemon ricotta ice cream and burnt marshmallows.
I've never had smoked milk before (or milk like this ever), but that's mainly because I'm not a fan of milk except in ice cream form. But this caught me by surprise. The milk became a custard like form and it went really well with the very warm, crispy exterior.
The lemon ricotta ice cream (again, never had cheese in ice cream before) was a good pairing with the smoked milk. It brought the light, cooling flavour to the mix. However, I wasn't able to eat too much of it as I was pretty full (and this dish is pretty filling cause of all the dairy).
Overall, I really enjoyed my visit. The food was good, the cocktails were absolutely delicious, and the service there was awesome. They were nice and didn't kick us out although the kitchen was closed lol. Although I thought the menu was overpriced, I do understand the novelty of it as I've been told that every single ingredient used is fresh and everything is made in house (including the sauces and what not). Besides having a great menu, the sitting area is also very pleasing to the eye. I honestly could have sat there all night! I would definitely come back just to sit in the lounge area for some cocktails.