Mimi Chinese

Toronto
3
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At the dine–in successor to takeout operation Sunny’s Chinese, plastic containers have given way to black bow ties, red velvet banquettes and a nightclub–leaning ambiance.

Street Address

265 Davenport Rd.

City + Province

Toronto, ON

Reservations

Yes

Surrounded by plush red banquettes and gorgeous white lotus wallpaper with a slightly noir underbelly, our black tabletop glows like a spotlit stage. Then the show begins. Holding a small pair of silver tongs, our bow–tied server ceremoniously removes the cucumber garnish from atop a pile of four–foot–long Shaanxi belt noodles, then lifts one fat ribbon high in the air to show off its nubbly, chili–oil and mushroom–slicked surface, before snipping the set down to size with a pair of filigreed gold scissors. Our mouths water like Pavlov’s Northern Chinese dog.

November 1, 2022
A woman eating a bowl of noodles at Mimi Chinese
A cocktail served in a panda mug at Mimi Chinese
Four–foot–long belt noodles take diners on a journey to Shaanxi Province and back in at least 20 bites.

The glamorous room and the showy service are a nod to the theatrical, old–school steakhouses of Miami or Hollywood, and tailor–made for the Yorkville jet set. Yet clues to Mimi’s much more rustic culinary heart are hidden in the washroom anteroom, where a black–and–white photo of a grizzled food market hawker, taken by chef David Schwartz on a trip to Chengdu, hangs above a black lacquer chest inlaid with mother–of–pearl.

The team at restaurant Mimi Chinese in Toronto
The back of the house, minus head chef Braden Chong (from left to right): Yi Yang, Charlie Borenstein, Mitchell Gatschuff, David Schwartz, Michael Ovejas, Keith Siu, Sean D’sa and Bryan Mason.

The magic of Mimi – led by the same team that brought us the smash pandemic take–out hit Sunnys Chinese (2021 winner) – is in the way it channels the soul of such humble cooks and the regional cuisines they represent. The transmutation that follows results in polished, peerless dishes that hew to tradition yet deliver the shock of the new. Cabbage is cooked in a stone oven with cumin oil, Szechuan peppercorns and sweet soy, wearing a char that evokes toasted marshmallows. A yellowtail sashimi dish once reserved for Guangdong royalty rests in a bright green pool of ginger oil, the mix deepened by soybeans and fermented rice. The shower of diced cucumber and chayote on top is so fine you worry for the chefs’ fingers.

“Everything is so delicate and yet so full of flavour,” my perspicacious friend notes. That goes for desserts too, like the comforting Guangdong steamed cake known as Ma Lai Go, over which our server pours a sweet rice cream. It’s China’s winning answer to sticky toffee pudding. The perfect end to a dazzling evening of high–glam ambiance and humble regional cuisine might be a flight of earthy baijiu, the distilled grain alcohol adored by magnates and street food hawkers alike.

Shrimp toast from Mimi Chinese

Don’t miss: One of the best shrimp toasts ever, delightfully crispy and decadent, made with fried bread, red vinegar and hot mustard mayo.

Gold SponsorDiageo
Silver SponsorWhyAmex
Tourism SponsorDestination Vancouver

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