The owners of Ossington’s Yours Truly restaurant have quietly taken over the awesomely named Shaw We Go Burger space at the corner of Queen and Shaw (930 Queen St. W.) to open a 35-seat, no-reservations snack-centric resto called A-OK Foods, serving lunch and dinner.
Officially welcoming its first customers yesterday, A-OK functions as a place where Yours Truly’s snack menu (including chef Jeff Claudio’s salt cod inaris) can live on, after the owners recently decided to focus solely on a nightly tasting menu at the Ossington restaurant.
“Here, the food concept is street food and snacks. It’s the cooking I’m interested in, while at Yours Truly it is more fine dining,” says Chris Jang (pictured above), the former Yours Truly cook who’s now running the A-OK kitchen. “It was hard working in that small kitchen at Yours Truly, pushing out two different types of menus.”
Jang describes the small menu as a mix of Chinese, Korean, and Mexican cuisine, as evidenced by pork skewers with a mole-style sauce as well as Korean fried chicken (chicken fried with sweet rice flour and tossed with a spicy and sweet sauce) paired with Mexican-spiced potato wedges.
On the left side of the restaurant (which is closed Monday and Tuesday) is a glass-walled, temperature-controlled room where Jang will fire up the ramen-making machine every day. This past summer he spent more than a month in Korea learning how to make ramen and came up with his own variation, blending in semolina flour to yield a “bouncier” texture. For now, there’s a more traditional shoyu (soy sauce) broth and slightly spicy Sichuan Tsukemen broth that hits the flavour notes synonymous with the food in this Chinese province: hot, loaded with chilies and a bit oily. One additional detail: the broths are chicken-based rather than the customary pork. Cleaner taste aside, co-owner Matt Cherkas says chicken takes up less space in the tiny kitchen than a pig.
As for the deluge of ramen spots opening in the last few weeks, Cherkas thinks it’s all part of a larger explosion of Japanese cuisine. “We just wanted to do the snack thing, and Chris always wanted to make ramen,” he says. “It just so happened all these places were opening. I’d be lying if we didn’t take it into account, but our snack menu and location is different. Luckily, there aren’t any other places out west doing this.”—Karon Liu
A-OK Foods, 930 Queen St. W. 647-352-2243.
The Sichuan Tsukemen ramen.