What’s a fat man without food in his gut?
If you’re like me and need a [really, really] good reason to travel anywhere east of Yonge Street, Kanpai Snack Bar is it. I’ve been here twice, and what stands out in my mind, in addition to the flavourful food, hip hop themed menu and awesome tunes (what other restaurant names one of its cocktails after one of your favourite ATCQ songs, which you will likely hear during your stay), is the unwavering service. I’ve come through with a party of four at the bar and another time with a group of 12 on the floor, and both times, the servers were attentive and the food service was on point, which is amazing considering how busy this place can get.
Let’s cut to the chase and start with the most important offering on the menu: Taiwanese fried chicken, which we ordered both times. Maybe I should let Andrew (a.k.a. the Fried Chicken Connoisseur) weigh in on this:
I’d rate Kanpai’s fried chicken one of the top three in Toronto. The seasoning had the perfect amount of spice, the crispiness of the skin was superb, and the meat was juicy and moist, plus it’s topped with cilantro (I’m a sucker for cilantro). My biggest concern was that Tara would go crazy with the dipping sauce and not leave any for me. For the price and size of chicken you are getting, there hasn’t been a deal this good since back in the day when KFC’s Toonie Tuesday actually cost $2.00!
He likes cilantro. Do you see why I have chosen him as my life partner? He had every right to be concerned about the dipping sauce because I was being way too generous with it. It was so good!
The second time we went to Kanpai was for a friend’s birthday, he asked me to help him find a venue with good eats and tunes, and Kanpai was one of the first suggestions to come to mind. I was so busy having fun that I forgot to take my own food photos, which is why I have done some borrowing from the Kanpai website. Because we had such a large group at our table, we ordered two 12-piece TFC buckets, and they came out pretty quickly, as did all of the additional sides and drinks we ordered. Of all the sides that came with the TFC bucket, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them other than the fried rice. I tried each of the Taiwanese antipesto items, my least favourite being the lotus root as I found it very harsh. I don’t remember much about the tater slaw, so that can’t be a good thing. The idea of DIY fried chicken baos (they give you a side of plain ‘naked’ baos) is a fun idea, but our baos came out way before the chicken did so they became cold. The piggie smalls (small chunks of pork belly with big ass flavour, deep fried and tossed with secret spices) was the illest. I tried to get my fu manchu on (crispy chunks of fried tofu tossed in a light sweet and a sour sauce), but they must have forgotten that part of our order, which was fine because I ran out of room for it anyway.
Some people at our table ordered the o.g. baos, I didn’t get the chance to taste them, but I assume they were good. My drink of the night (aside from the numerous $3 Jameson shots we all had) was the Montauk Tame Impala (tequila, ginger beer, chai syrup, cucumber, lime juice), which I knew I would be ordering all night because I gravitate towards anything with ginger beer in it. I remember having a selection of desserts, but after several drinks, I can’t remember all of them. I do remember the wow bao (deep fried bao bullion with yin yang of spicy nutella and pop rock condensed milk), which I enjoyed [because I was thoroughly drunk and] because I love the taste and texture of baos when they are deep fried. I may have lost all credibility now that I’ve revealed the extent of my intoxication, but I can guarantee if you are a fan of fried chicken and old school hip hop, you should be here.
Monday – Wednesday: 5:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Thursday – Saturday: 12:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Sunday: 12:00 PM – 12:00 AM