Growing up, I only knew two kinds of Chinese food: the one that my grandmother would painstakingly prepare all day for us on special occasions and the one at Chinese restaurants where there isn't a focus on service but the food is greasy and delicious. Since I moved to Canada, I haven't had much chance to sample my grandmother’s cooking but the second option is still relevant in my life. However, I have also discovered that Chinese food doesn’t have to equate to a restaurant with a yellow sign and poor service. Sometimes, you can find an upscale version of the asian food in a beautifully decorated environment and with that in mind, we went to dine at Soso Food Club.
As with most things in my life nowadays, I first noticed Soso Food Club because of its beautiful instagrammable interior. Much like La Palma, Oretta and Café Cancan, the restaurant became an overnight Instagram sensation with the local blogger crowd but based on my past experiences (except for the fantastic La Palma) I decided to keep my expectations rather low when it comes down to the food. On a grey rainy day, we arrived at the restaurant and were greeted by a very friendly staff who promptly directed us to a seafoam-coloured table near the window. The weather might have been awful but the restaurant was bathed in beautifully diffused light. With its shades of green and pastel pink, Soso Food Club could easily have looked like a five year old girl’s version of a good time but it all somehow worked in it’s favour. Would it still appeal to five year old girls? Probably, but it will also please plenty of patrons.
The menu created by Jasper Wu of Miss Things is mainland Chinese- inspired and comprises dishes from all over China including some from Sichuan and Shanghai. The whole menu sounded quite appealing and we were all starving so we ended up order half of it. It should be noted that contrary to a traditional Chinese menu, there weren’t a million items on the menu. However, much like at a traditional restaurant, all dishes come out as they are ready due to the limited space available in the kitchen. Food bloggers you have been warned! We started off with the veggie lover dumplings served with chilly soy vinegar sauce and the Xiao Long Bao (Classic Shanghainese Pork Soup Dumplings that are hand rolled in-house daily). While I found the veggie lover dumplings spicy, it was nothing compared to the XO Lobster Mapo tofu dish that came afterwards. While I was sweating profusely from the spices, I could not stop myself from eating the delicious dish.
The Not-Really Buddha Basket followed suite in its taro basket (deep fried mashed taro which is one of my favourite things to get at dim sum) filled with Buddhish food inspired toppings. Next came healthy portions of Chinese broccoli and some of the best snow pea leaves that I’ve had the chance to try. The Dong Po Pork was reminiscent of a ramen bowl’s toppings but the sustainably sourced pork belly absolutely melted in my mouth like warm butter. My favourite dish of the whole night was undeniably the Cantonese dish of whole Sea Bream in a black bean chilli sauce served with clams. This fish dish reminded me of home and of my grandmother’s cooking, which is the biggest compliment that I could give to Jasper Wu.
We left the restaurant that night with our stomachs full and our wallets considerably lighter. While the dishes are priced fairly higher than their Chinatown counterparts, the food truly surpassed my expectations and I cannot wait until my next excursion to the Soso Food Club.