What's the vibe
Despite our increasingly nuanced palates taking a broader view of international cuisine, we can't seem to get over the hurdle of lumping all Chinese food into one category. SoSo Food Club, a new restaurant, bar and club on Dundas West, sets out to change all that.
Owner Nancy Chen (Otto’s Döner, Otto’s Bierhalle), who grew up in Hong Kong, was inspired to open a restaurant that drew from a number of regions, with Shaanxi, Sichuan and Cantonese dishes all represented.
The space was largely decorated by the team themselves. Teal blue banquettes and soft-pink chairs give the space a chilled out dining vibe, but the neon accents around the bar and low lighting throughout make it an easy transition to SoSo's nighttime alter-ego; when the back room turns into a club and DJs play tunes until late. The restaurant will also host tastings, panels and classes.
For dinner, we recommend grabbing a seat near the front, where huge windows open onto the street or snag a stool at the bar and watch the magic happen.
What to drink
Bartender Lia Said was given a pretty broad mandate – drinks to match the menu. To get inspired, she headed to a grocery store, purchased all the Chinese liquor available and started experimenting. Luckily, her bar know-how acquired from Bar Raval was pretty transferable; as it turns out, Chinese drinking wines taste a lot like Spanish sherry.
The cocktail menu is expected to double in the coming months, but for now, there are enough great offerings to please most. Sip on a Midnight Support Group (a tongue-in-cheek acronym of MSG) which mixes Bourbon, sherry wine, Chinese Five-Spice and Angostura Bitters together. Or enjoy the sweet and sour Mamahuhu with Chinese vodka, Guerra Blanco, hibiscus berry tea and orange blossom – a pretty boozy cocktail that's surprisingly easy drinking.
There's a good selection of local beers available (Lug Tread, Blood Brothers) as well as a decent-sized wine list, including some biodynamic options; Said confessed to nerding out in Prince Edward County ahead of the restaurant's launch.
What to eat
The food here at SoSo is anything but – chef Jasper Wu (Miss Things) has crafted an exciting menu that's great to be shared. The flavours are bold and super spicy, and the plate presentation is unapologetic. You won't find westernized Chinese classics here; think whole fishes with their heads still attached and lobsters in the shell.
Since much of the team at SoSo Food Club are vegan, so too is a large proportion of the menu. Everything here is ethically sourced, using sustainable ingredients. All noodles are made in-house – order the Lamb Biang Biang if you dare (with its marinade of 13 spices, it's spicy for even the fieriest of dining companions). At the time of our visit, the soup dumplings were not on the menu – but if you get the chance, make sure you try some Xiaolongbao.
The Sea Bream, in a black bean and chilli sauce served with clams, was a real highlight, as was the Rou Jia Mo (Chinese hamburger), served on house-made bread.
Dinner and drinks for two: about $100
1166 Dundas St W., 416-519-6661, sosofood.club