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The mysterious spot right beside The Black Hoof’s was no other than Hoof’s newest expansion, Hoof’s Raw Bar. My friends from NYC were back in town and lucky, Raw Bar was just opening up that weekend. So the decision for dinner was easy, we had to visit them and show Jen Agg our support. Now The Black Hoof’s has earned it’s reputation over the past few years for great offal food. Yeah, it can definitely be different but the way The Black Hoof’s does it, it’s actually quite tasty and worth a visit. We’ll share our experience in another article for another time. =)
923 Dundas Street W
Toronto, ON M6J 1W3
Raw Bar is essentially the seafood version of The Black Hoof’s. So sashimi, oysters and you betcha, seafood offal offerings are all available. The head chef of this new expansion is Jonathan Pong. I was fortunate to quickly meet him through Jen Agg just shortly after our dinner service. The decor is ‘hipster’ but we felt it suited it quite well. We enjoyed it and everything about it worked. Their menu is split into three sections: cold/raw, snacks/bar, and cooked plates. During this night, we were able to try at least one of every section.
We started off with the Cured Fish Board which rotates a different variety of fish from night to night. On this night, we got 4 different types of fish and scallops all served sashami style. The 4 fish were a cured citrus mackerel, albacore tuna, black cod and an olive brined branzino with our scallops. We definitely enjoyed the Branzino which had a great flavour and a buttery texture to the fish. Small onions bites are made available to cleanse your pallets after each fish. Soon after, we tried the Fish Snacks which was served in 3 Chinese take out boxes that featured, deep friend Prawn heads, smelts, and fried whitebait. The Prawn heads can prove to be a little challenging with the whiskers poking out. If you’re squeamish, this will only add to the problem as we had a friend struggle with this. =P.
We then proceeded with the Baby Octopus and Whiting and Ponzu dishes. To me these 2 dishes were slightly above average. The Baby Octopus was fresh and cooked well, but the flavours didn’t seem to stand out. The Whiting and Ponzu was a little bit better than the Baby Octopus. The fish was deboned and made easy for to eat and share. It actually reminded me of a typical Chinese way of cooking the fish but pan-fried… and this worked. Two of my favourite dishes of the night is definitely the two photos below.
First off, the sea bream sashami. The sea bream was really fresh and tasted great. There was a soy butter that surrounded the fish which we used to dipped the fish in. As well, the fish was topped with cucumber noodles which we believe helped to balance out the dish. And by farrr my favourite dish of the night was the raw scallops. The raw scallops were thinly cut with an a apple cider reduction and topped with granny smith apples cubes. Lastly, the final element of the dish was the fried potato bits that was sprinkled on top. To me, this completed the dish. Not only did it give it a good texture, but I did enjoyed the crunch. This dish was simply delicious and I would go back just for this, single-handedly.
Overall, my friends and I enjoyed Raw Bar. Definitely, more expensive than other options within Toronto, but it stands out. There are a few dishes that I really enjoyed and there was enough here for me to come back with a first timer. And Raw Bar definitely deserves a visit for all you seafood lovers. Jen Agg is a great host as usual and it’s was a pleasure catching up with her again. Jen if you’re reading, I’ll do my best to be back for another visit soon. =P
The Damage: $55ish after tax