It is hard to imagine the degree of difficulty in securing a week-end reservation at this re-incarnation of the now defunct but once acclaimed ‘The Emperor‘. I would say the effort and time spend in doing so, equal or even surpass the same in my attempt to seal availability for some highly desirable, Michelin star top tables during my recent Tokyo food-crawl!
Enforcing a strict two seating policy by the restaurant resulted in the need to make weekend reservations a ‘way ahead of time’ MUST requirement. For our party of eight, this procedure was done over three weeks in advance for an early 6.00pm seating on a Saturday evening! This is previously unheard of for a Chinese restaurant! There must be valid reasons to justify such a rare phenomenon and I cannot wait to find out.
Entering this new kid on the block, the first thing we noticed was that, much effort and expenses had been spent by the current owner in revamping the former space. Modern-themed lighting fixtures coupled with contemporary Chinese art decoration combined to form a tasteful and bright ambience and environment. Partition walls featured in previous configuration were strategically removed to expose an open array of impressive fish tanks filled with exotic and uncommon live fish, bi-valves and crustaceans. Amongst which are live, $128 per pound Red Emperor Crab from Australia, live $120 per pound Floridian spotted Groupers, $52 per pound clawless tropical Australian spiny lobsters, live Thai Gobi Fish and French Turbots…….etc! Sadly, the once mighty Giant lobster, weird looking Geoduck clams and live Alaskan King Crabs are no longer the star features!
A modern, floor to ceiling, glass enclosed wine-rack is used to separate the reception area from the main dining room.
Now, onto the food.....those yummy, commendable and praise worthy food!
Yes! Based on what we had tonight. For delectable, well-executed, refined Cantonese food, ‘ The One Fusion ‘ could indeed be THE ONE?!
Dinner menu, with separate stand-alone specials-of-the day, are a few steps up from the norm. Offerings feature both traditional and contemporary Cantonese dishes, some with attractive and interesting fusion twists. A medley of exotic and high-end ingredients plus labor-intensive cooking methods set them apart from other worthy competitors. Baked stuffed whole Crab shell, Stirred fry Yellow fin Floridian Grouper filet with Japanese Maitake mushrooms, Baked giant Canadian lobster with Chardonnay cream sauce ( one of over a dozen preparation methods to choose from! )….to name a few.
Not knowing the true caliber of the kitchen, for our first meal, we decided to shy away from ordering the more extravagantly priced dishes, adhering to some habitual and customary dishes instead. This approach would also allow us to make some inquisitive comparisons with some of our current favorite and regular venues.
Our party ordered the following dishes:
- Soup of the day ( Mung beans, Burdock root, Sun dried Cuttle fish and pork )
- Stirred fry free range chicken with shredded celery and chestnuts
- Sweet and sour pork with Blue-berries
- Stirred fry Floridian yellow fin grouper filet with Maitake mushrooms
- Pan seared Filet Mignon cubes with Black pepper and crispy walnuts
- Cantonese BBQ pork
- Stirred fry chicken filet with shallots and fermented black beans
- Stirred fry Chinese Kale ( Gai-lan ) with Chinese wine and ginger essence.
- Braised Tofu with medley of mushrooms and seasonal greens
- Stirred fry pea-shoots with King mushrooms
- Complimentary desserts
Whilst all dishes were prepared, executed and presented to a very high standard. A few approached exceptional territory and stood out above and beyond the rest.
These include a heavenly and never-before-tasted Stirred fry free range chicken with shredded celery and whole chestnuts. Wow! The wok-hay aroma and exotic taste profile was out-of-this-world! Mesmerizing-ly delicious!
Next came the commendable Sweet and sour pork. Nowadays, it seem like better executed and better tasting versions of this iconic dish keeps on appearing all over the place. However, ‘The One’s' version has surpassed all known competitions and IMO propelled itself to the top of the heap! Perfectly seasoned, crispy and covered with just the right glaze. This is close to perfection…..at least by GTA standard! Better than O’Mei’s?!
Last but not least, the perfectly timed and executed stirred fry Grouper filet with Maitake mushrooms. The ability of the chef to control the correct degree of doneness in Cantonese style stirred fry fish filet is one of the reference yard stick in measuring the skill of the chef. In this case, the chef with its perfectly seasoned and cooked fish passed the test in flying colors!
Rest of the dishes were all nicely presented and commendable in both preparation and taste. Very hard to criticize and fault. If one really has to pursue a path of fault-finding?.... may be the slightly staled walnuts used as side condiments for the beef dish? However, this would be extreme ‘nit-picking ‘!
By the way, portions are HUGE!
Though the restaurant was packed, however, service was efficient, attentive and friendly.
All in all, a most enjoyable dining experience! Now we all understand why reservation on a weekend at this restaurant is so hard to come by!! To make things easier, on our way out, we went ahead and secure reservation with the manager, in person, for our next visit in a week’s time!
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