Fresh from the Toronto melting pot, the city’s best new fusion dishes are inspired marriages of time tested tastes and traditions that everyone can agree on. These are our picks for the top new fusion dishes in Toronto.
BORALIA’S BISON “PEMMICAN” BRESAOLA
Most of the items on the Boralia (formerly “Borealia,” owners changed the name due to trademark complications) menu are educational reminders of Canada’s heritage cuisines with a modern twist. Its take on pemmican – the sometimes fruity meat-grease jerky mash that anticipated energy bars at least as far back as the 1700s and arguably helped build the country after the Cree introduced early settlers to it – is delivered through an Italian lens as a bresaola that tosses cured bison meat up with thinly shaved lardo and plates like a salumi salad topped with a wild blueberry juniper vinaigrette.
$15 | 59 Ossington Ave. | Website
DAC BIET’S PHO BURGER
Forget adding ketchup to this gourmet burger. After grilling its daily-ground sirloin, chuck, and brisket beef blend into premium patties, this Asian-American burger joint at the base of the Ryerson campus gives its burgers Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese treatments. Their pho burger is appropriately slathered in hoisin and Sriracha and topped up with sautéed beansprouts, basil, and lime. Paired with a side of pho jus for dipping, it’s a revelatory sandwich that slips two worlds of street food into an Ace bun. Also worth noting here: a signature pho poutine, kimchi fries, and banh mi, kalbi, and teriyaki burgers.
$6.75 | 213 Church St. | Website
NINE KITCHEN & BAR’S KFC
Nine Kitchen & Bar is a Korean snack bar, so here, KFC stands for Korean Fried Chicken. Available three different ways, it’s a crackling pub take on the Colonel’s crunchy standard, deep fried until it talks and coated in the pub’s signature chili (KFC8), sweet soya and garlic (KFC3), or mega spicy sauces (KFCW) (why there’s no KFC9 on the menu is beyond me). Also here: kimchi omelets, kimchi frittatas, and tuna tartar.
$12-$13 | 9 Roncesvalles Ave. | Facebook
R&D’S VENISON CHILI SPRING ROLLS
Describing their food as “modern Canadian Asian cuisine,” at R&D, owner-chefs Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation) and Eric Chong (winner of season one of MasterChef Canada) explore the endless possibilities of colliding pan-Asian and Canadian cooking, so their spring roll offers a curdy, gamey alternative to the ubiquitous Asian appetizer. A single order here gets you three rolls packed with venison and cheese curds, paired with a charred jalapeño and scallion sour cream dip. Also here: fried chicken with glazed cronuts, pulled pork and sauerkraut potstickers, piña colada bubble tea.
$8 | 241 Spadina Ave. | Website
WINDUP’S OPEN FACED CURRIED GOAT ROTI
After leaving Roncesvalles smokehouse Barque, Whitney Knowles and Bryan Birch set up shop in Little Italy to focus on Jamaican and Trinidadian fusion recipes that also pay mind to local food trends. So instead of a wrap, WindUp’s smaller format roti arrives at your table open face style so you can pick it up with one hand and slam it back taco style. It’s a curried goat meat based dish that’s topped with plantain chips, pickled mango and – in a nod to taco wisdom – a sprig of cilantro. Also here: jerk chicken and waffles, and salt cod fritters with bacon foam and preserved lemon.