What’s the vibe?
Joining trendy takes on Chinatown classics like People’s Eatery, Jackpot Chicken Rice is the neighbourhood’s newest opening. This intimate space on Spadina seats 40 diners and specializes in Hainanese-style chicken and rice – a staple dish in Southeast Asia. Craig Wong of Patois, which is currently on hiatus as they undergo renovations from fire damage nearby, has created a familiar setting with bright colours and vibrant tabletops. Local Toronto artist Bacon has adorned Jackpot Chicken Rice with lively graffiti art – most notably a giant toddler clutching a watermelon (a motif from retro Chinese propaganda) – sure to be a conversation-starter.
What to drink
On the drinks menu, craft tall cans from Woodhouse and Collective Arts sit alongside Asian import beers – Tiger and Tsing Tao. The Blackcurrant Calamansi Lemonade is a tropical cocktail brightened with citrus and colourful Ribena concentrate. Jackpot’s mocktails also incorporate classic Asian flavours like Chrysanthemum Iced Tea and Mango Mint while stubby cans of Crunch Crunch Pear and Sac Sac Mandarin juice feature unexpected but refreshing bits of pulp.
What to eat
Following a ‘less-is-more’ motto that pulls away from the more traditional pages-long menus available in the neighbourhood, Jackpot Chicken Rice has just a few simple offerings that are carefully refined. For a light snack, try the Coconut Shrimp Chips as a starter.
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For our main, we’d be remiss not to choose the hallmark Jackpot Chicken Rice. It’s the signature dish of the restaurant and came recommended to us by the neighbouring table. Prepared Hainanese style, grain-fed chicken is poached to retain moisture and tenderness. Rice isn’t an afterthought at Jackpot, where it’s cooked in a rich and oily broth, making it delicious enough to eat on its own. Ginger-scallion and chilli sauces as well as a winter melon soup accompany the dish. And for an additional $2 you can add a piece of crispy chicken skin – definitely a worthwhile investment.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $60
318 Spadina Avenue; 416 792 8628; jackpotchickenrice.com