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FRILU, Thornhill - A most enjoyable, intriguing and adventurous tasting menu with strong Nordic and Japanese influence! (Long Review)

Charles Yu | Sep 10, 201909:39 PM     15

In a culinary desert that is Thornhill, places that offer slightly more sophisticated fine dining are practically non-existence. As such, when a new kid on the block appeared out of this void, it is only natural that avid foodies like myself started to pay attention to its development. With more news emerging that revealed ‘FRILU’ is being anchored by a chef/owner ( John-Vincent Troiano ) who had honed his skill, not only in our local Japanese Kaiseki temple – Hashimoto, but also in kitchens like the world famous NOMA in Copenhagen and San Francisco Michelin 3* BENU. It has suddenly become a prime target on my gastronomic radar screen. However, when it was propelled onto Air Canada’s 2018-9 Best New Restaurant List (receiving a ranking way higher than other notable new stars like Don Alfonso 1890)….with the help of its adventurous Canadiana, Nordic and Japanese themed tasting menu. It automatically became a ‘must-try’ on my book! The close proximity of the restaurant to my Richmond Hill home also added a welcome incentive!

This evening, for once, without the need to brave the notorious rush hour Don Valley traffic, my foodie brother-in-law and I drove with heightened anticipation to ‘FRILU’ for our annual, men-only, joined birthday ritual.

Nestled within an un-assuming road side strip plaza on Yonge and in an area surrounded by predominantly Persian and Korean businesses. We entered the premise to find a quaint and cozy oasis, with neutral, minimalist, Zen themed décor.

With a ‘trust-the-chef’, Japanese Omakase style, tasting menu as our only choice, we settled down with our glass of mouth-watering, food friendly, ‘Small wine-maker - Mittnacht-Klack’, 2015 Alsace Gewürztraminer and waited to be ‘wowed ‘?!

Well, I am pleased to report that this evening’s meal must be, hands-down, the most enjoyable tasting menu experience I have had in Canada this year! A meal worthy of a Michelin star! Rare ‘wow-factor’ that had eluded many of my past meals has suddenly re-emerged! Every component and aspects of our dining experience were near flawless. From the super-friendly, attentive and professional service, to the beautiful, eye appealing plate presentation, to the dishes’ unique creativity and use of exotic seasoning, to the perfect execution of the ingredients, to the resulting delicious, complex flavor profile and its associated equally, wonderful textural interface, to the meal’s amazing value…..the accolades can go on and on!! Besides swooning on our food, we also had a delightful time interacting with our servers ( Kelli and Leo ) as well as Chef Troiano himself!

Talk about a perfect total package!

By the way, I have enclosed a copy of tonight’s interesting tasting menu. However, due to the vast number of stand-out dishes, from the scallops to the Horse Tenderloin to the Crab meat ragu noodles, to the Halibut….etc. I have decided not to spend time on describing each and every delectable dish. If I take this route, this posting will be at least twice as long!! Just use your imagination when reading the menu and looking at the photos! Didn’t someone says, a picture speaks a thousand words? Ha!

Lastly, I would like to end with a couple of interesting factoid.

First, a food related one. I noticed quite a few dishes employed the use of fermentation and aging techniques. From the Halibut, aged for 7 days (a technique garnering more and more popularity, especially in Japan ), to the use of fermentation in creating various key components such as the Watermelon dessert and the Ontario Plum condiments. These are clear reflection of the skill and knowledge gained by the Chefs working in NOMA and/or under Japanese chefs.

Second, an ambience related one. For some reason, the level of the back ground music during the beginning of our meal was excessively loud! Coupled with a low ceiling and packed front-of-house, the noise level became almost unbearable as the evening progresses. This fact, we both noticed but forgot to mention to the chef/owner when bidding our farewell. A sign we were still mesmerized by those fabulously yummy food?!

We will definitely be back in two weeks time when they change to their fall menu.....CANNOT WAIT!!

FRILU
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