Our first drink was a bit slow to arrive but once it did, it was almost as though the entire restaurant froze around us and we were the only ones being served. Plate after plate, we were more and more impressed with not only the flavours of each dish, but also the thought that had to have been put behind each one.
We started off ordering the best wine on the list, Hart & McGarry's Napa Valley 2009 Cab Sauvignon. Earlier-on we were at Eighteen for a pre-dinner drink and the bartender highly recommended it. I'm so glad we went with his suggestion. And, without hesitation, that first bottle quickly turned into a second.
When faced with small plates, I find it difficult to stick to a reasonable amount of orders. Add to that an Asian flair and I'm a complete disaster. Luckily I had 3 other people at my table to help me get through. And for that reason, we managed to devour almost every option on the list. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I didn't leave wishing I had had more. Simply put, we pigged out!
It all started with a trio of tacos. That was the first order Sue made. With many taco options on the menu, I'm surprised the Chinese bbq pork was the only one that was ordered. They looked amazing, and the speed at which Sue gobbled them up confirmed my assumption. With hunger pangs now at ease, we took our time through each, easily shared dish that followed.
The green papaya salad with cashews, mint, Thai basil and crisp taro was our first love. We dove into this bird's nest of fresh yumminess, savouring every single bite.
Next up were the salt & pepper calamari with chili vinegar sauce. Lightly breaded and bursting with flavour, these were probably some of the best calamari I've ever had. The tingle of chili with each bite added that little je ne sais quoi.
The prawn dumplings with ginger and black vinegar took a back seat when the delicately crisp betal leave parcels of prawn arrived. We almost canceled everything and ordered more of these. Thank god we didn't though. The entire evening was filled with bite after bite of dishes from heaven.
The son-in-law egg with chili jam and fried shallots is a dish I probably wouldn't have ordered if it hadn't come so highly recommended (again from the bartender at Eighteen). But it is now something I would go back for in a second. Thank goodness we got one each or things could have turned ugly. Deliciously crispy on the outside, soft and runny inside.
Lightly fried uringii mushroom spring rolls were served with fresh Thai basil that we used as a blanket to wrap around them before dousing them in the nouc mam dipping sauce.
Both the lobster with fresh veg in green curry and braised oh-so-tender beef with Panaeng curry and roasted peanuts were jaw-droppingly flavoursome. Our eyes couldn't help but close with every single bite. And the mound of steamed jasmine rice served alongside was perfect for mopping up the sauces, making each dish last that much longer.
To ensure we got our greens in, a beautiful bowl of deep green sugar snap peas with miso and a light dusting of parmesan, and fiddleheads in a gloriously silky butter sauce and parm sprinkles were snacked on between dishes.
Finally, the white tuna sashimi with charred scallion, poblano chili, yuzu and fresh horseradish served as a palate cleanser before our dessert.
Beautiful as they were, I did not get a shot of the soft, sweet mini donuts. But trust me, a spot must be left open for these. Luckily I have a separate stomach especially for dessert. Cinnamon sugar, Olivia chocolate dip and white chocolate dip cranberry now all hold a very special place in my heart. And with sips of port in between became a sinful experience to say the least.
Since I've been there, I haven't stopped thinking about it. I need to get my husband to come with me next time so that he can understand the absolute pleasure I experienced that night. Having an evening filled with fantastic service, a warm relaxing atmosphere, dishes that are to-die-for and my best friends in the world is pure bliss for me. Only it gets sad when it ends.
Plates range from $5 to $28 each.
18 York Street, Ottawa