I was supposed to meet some friends in Chinatown last week for big plates of noodles and stir fry, but as I made my way up Spadina half the group called and canceled. With just two of us left for dinner we made a spontaneous decision to skip the spring rolls and check out People's Eatery, the latest restaurant opened by the boys behind 416 Snack Bar.
People's Eatery is stylish and trendy. It looks like it belongs in Queen West or on the Ossington Strip, but it's right in the heart of Chinatown at Spadina and Dundas. It's a great alternative if you're in that part of town and are looking for fusion tapas and sharing plates served alongside sleek decor.
I ordered my usual martini with olives to start, but was told they only serve them with capers. It made for a pretty cocktail and it tasted almost exactly the same, but I missed out on the part where I get to eat the olives.
The menu is an eclectic mix inspired by Asian food and Deli staples with a splash of Indian cuisine thrown in for good measure. I have to say that I never expected to see peking duck and latkes on the same menu, but I like variety so bring it on!
Because we were just two people and we like to try as many dishes as possible, we skipped the big platters and ordered one of each item off the snack menu plus a sashimi salad to share.
First came the tongue sandwich on a pretzel bun with pickles and mustard. I'm not the biggest fan of tongue usually. I think it's got great flavour, but in most cases I'm put off by the spongy texture. I'm happy to say that this was the exception and the texture was similar to pork belly, which I love. And all sandwiches should be on pretzel buns, always.
Steak Tartare, which regular blog readers know I love. I've tried a lot of tartare in my life and this one definitely didn't disappoint.
Potato knish with caramelized cabbage and sour cream. This was super tasty with flavourful filling and flaky pastry, but I wouldn't have minded a little more filling inside to balance out the think crust.
General Tso tofu. This was one of my favourites that night and one of the best tofu dishes I've had anywhere. The outside was crispy, sticky, and sweet while the inside was soft and pillowy.
Potato latkes with sour cream, trout, and dill. Simple. Traditional. Tasty.
Liver terrine with challah toast and onion jam. Liver is one of only a few foods I absolutely will not eat, so when I saw "liver and onions" on the menu I just kept on reading. But my dinner date wanted to give it a try so we ended up ordering it anyway. When it arrived I was intrigued by the fact that it was more like a paté, and, since I don't mind a little bit of liver in a nice paté, I gave it a try. The liver was whipped into a fluffy mousse, and even though it's really not my favourite flavour I thought this was delicious. If you like terrines, patés, and mousses, definitely give this a try. Even if you don't usually go for liver, why not be brave?
Lastly, we finished with one of their newer dishes: a korean style sashimi salad. This was a great way to finish the meal and more than one staff member pointed it out as one of their favourites. The salad was tangy and fresh with crisp greens, julienned vegetables and strips of sashimi; the whole plate is tied together with cilantro and nori garnish.
All in all, it was a fun meal that took us all the way around the world, and had me enjoying foods I usually avoid. When you can't decide if you're in the mood for Asian fusion or a twist on North American deli classics, head to People's Eatery and try a little bit of both.