1496 Yonge Street
Date Visited: December 27, 2013
Kwan is one of the latest restaurants to pop up in midtown at the heart of Yonge and St. Clair. It is located at the former site of Didier, serving upscale Chinese cuisine in an area previously devoid of any good representation.
Kwan's interiors have a contemporary feel with rectangular motifs throughout.
During the day, Kwan serves up dim sum. Who better to open up a dim sum joint than Debbie Lui, the former restaurateur and mastermind behind Royal Tea House?
During the evening, Debbie Lui has given the reigns of the restaurant to head chef Ronny Lam, of former Lai Wah Heen fame.
Our evening meal started with a standard offering of Peking duck ( 2 courses - $48). Pancake wraps, cucumbers, scallions and Hoisin sauce accompanied our carved duck pieces with crispy skin.
Bostonian lettuce was served with our second course of minced, stir fried Peking duck instead of the usual ice berg variety. Although softer than ice berg, the lettuce was the perfect exterior to wrap the crunchy minced duck mix filling to yield delicious bitefuls.
Next, a Crispy Shrimp Ball ($6) was served. The exterior batter was crispy and not greasy. The piping hot interior had minced shrimp wrapped with whole shrimp - how can you go wrong? Great shrimp flavour and a sweet plum sauce to compliment it.
A glass with sliced carrots in it and an edible "floor" on top of it elevated the shrimp ball for presentation but those components didn't really do much else taste wise. The "floor" that the shrimp ball that was resting on wasn't very appetizing.
Seafood Pumpkin Soup ($8) - Great for a cold winter day! A rich and creamy bisque-like soup with pieces of crab meat and scallop. The seafood wasn't fishy like you might imagine in a preparation like this. Delicious. Is this Chinese cuisine? It's quite innovative!
Scallop Cakes ($20) - Each cake comprised of mashed up scallop wrapped in a crunchy seaweed wrap. Another dish served piping hot and drizzled with a layer of decadent truffle oil! Another imaginative dish!
Asparagus with Bamboo Shoots ($20) - Crunchy asparagus topped with delicate, melt in your mouth bamboo shoots.
The seventh dish served was Red Wine Short Ribs Casserole ( $36) - The most memorable dish of the night. This dish ate like a stew. The short ribs were so tender and fall off the bone - no doubt a product of the acidity of the wine. The wine also was responsible for the deep, complex flavours in the dish. A must try! Again, am I having Chinese cuisine here?
Grouper Fillet with Kwan's XO Sauce ($20) - This dish had some heat which is always welcome. A subtle crust on the outside of this fried grouper and tender on the inside. The snap peas still had their snap if you will. A tad too much oil overall but cooked for the right amount of time.
Pan Seared Noodles with Seafood ($18) - Kwan's take on Cantonese chow mein? This noodle dish is loaded with seafood - no complaints there. Delicious sauce makes you come back for more but just a bit much since you lose the crunchy parts you traditionally get with Cantonese chow mein.
Last savoury dish was XO Seafood Fried Rice ($18).
Kwan is a welcomed addition to midtown. It features refined Cantonese style cuisine with a few inventive surprises along the way! Back for dim sum? Absolutely.