Patois: Where “Caribbean meets Asian Soul Food”. Chef Craig Wong, a French-trained chef who comes from a Chinese-Jamaican background, is bringing something deliciously unique to the city.
Open for dinner every night except Tuesday, Patois (@) is located on Dundas St, a couple blocks west of Bathurst. The space, which features a long bar at the front of the restaurant, is fun and playful – look up and you’ll see a line of inflatable pool toys lining the ceiling. The 65-seat space features a banquette down one side of the restaurant, one round table with a lazy susan (made from skateboard decks) meant for a larger groups and high-tops filling out the rest of the space.
According to Patois’ website, “Like Jamaica’s national language, “Patois” is the merging of great food ideas from various cultures, executed with respect for the ingredients.” One look at the menu, and you’ll want to order everything. And they make it easy for you to do so. If you’ve got a group of 3-4 people, you can order the “Whole Shebang” (aka the entire menu) for $99.99 which includes a half order of fried chicken and half order of jerk chicken. For an extra $12, you can do the Yardbird Upgrade to get full orders of each.
Since there were six of us, that’s exactly what we did. We supplemented the “Whole Shebang” with all of the specials as well which turned out to be a TON of food. We all left in a major food coma… and with a pretty nice doggy bag.
Our meal was off to a great start with the Crispy Nori Green Beans ($12) which was one of the specials. These crispy green beans were incredibly addictive. If they’re still being offered, it’s definitely a must order.
Up next was the Seaweed Waldorf Salad – grapes, celery, wakame, walnut, apple & sesame dressing ($8) which we didn’t really enjoy. There were a lot of different flavours and textures in it and… well, it just didn’t work for me. Around the table, nobody was a fan. It’s a shame since this is really the only “light” dish on the menu (everything else is either meat-heavy or fried).
We were back on track with the Jerk Chicken Chow Mein ($15), which was also from the specials. I don’t normally order chow mein but this is something I’d order again. Sitting on top of the crispy noodles was a pile of deliciously spicy jerk chicken.
Something that caught everyone’s attention was the Jamaican Patty Double Down – two cocktail patties, bacon, Swiss cheese fondue, sriracha ($7), a fun take on KFC’s Double Down. The Jamaican patties were nice and flaky and were stuffed with chunks of meat. Throw cheese, bacon and Sriracha into the mix and yeah, obviously it’s going to be good!
Our server mentioned that the Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger – double smashburger, oyster sauce mayo, hickory sticks, Festival dumpling battered onion rings ($13.50) is a popular item on the menu. I love a sweet and savoury combination so I was excited to sink my teeth into it.
For those unfamiliar with the Chinese pineapple bun, there isn’t any actual pineapple in the bun. The bun consists of a sweet topping which resembles a pineapple, hence the name. With two patties, this made for a pretty hefty burger. Overall, I thought it was good but nothing mind-blowing. Around the table, the reviews were a little mixed (one person really loved it) – maybe that’s what we get for trying to split it six ways.
The burger was accompanied by giant onion rings which were covered in a thick (and slightly sweet) batter. I personally wasn’t a fan.
Since we ordered the “Whole Shebang”, a platter arrived with several different components on it. Next to the burger were the Kimchi Potstickers “Pierogi-style” – caramelized onions, bacon, kimchi, sour cream and scallions ($11). These small bite-sized potstickers were certainly tasty – tons of flavour packed into each bite. I only wish the kimchi was more prominent as I’d never know it was even in there had it not been on the menu description.
The next dish to arrive was the Ackee n’ Saltfish – three saltfish fritters, piperade, plantain chips ($14). I found it a little dry, salty and just not really my cup of tea. I only had a small bite so this may not have been the best representation of the dish but the sentiment was the same around the table. Nobody was crazy about this dish.
Another one of their specials was the Death Row Picana on a Sizzling Plate ($18). It arrived on a sizzling plate (like the ones you get at HK-style cafes) and our server subsequently poured the sauce over the steak as we watched it sizzle. Honestly, this wasn’t a very memorable dish at all. Not bad. Just nothing memorable.
Another item we ordered off of the specials was the Ribs a l’Orange ($12) which came with three ribs. They were wonderfully fatty and tender – everyone really enjoyed them. It was one of my favourite dishes, actually. I appreciated the fact that they had a nice sweetness to them but weren’t overwhelmingly sweet.
If you come to Patois, you’ve gotta order some chicken! I first tried their O.G. Fried Chicken – with Thai basil and sweet sriracha ($18 full order/$12 half chicken). This was just all-around amazing. The batter was super crispy and the interior was juicy – even the white meat was wonderfully moist (the true test!). I would order this again in a heartbeat!
Their Juicy Jerk Chicken – churrasco, rotisserie roasted ($17 full order/$11 half chicken) was also stellar. It’s not all about the Jamaican-Chinese fusion at Patois. Their jerk chicken is done Portuguese-style. The name doesn’t lie – it really is juicy and I loved all the spices used in it. Really delicious, even the next day (we ordered a little too much and ended up bringing home a doggy bag).
For some veggies, there’s the O.G. Fried Cauliflower & Watermelon Pickle – with Thai basil and sweet sriracha ($15), another one of my favourite dishes. They sure know their way around a deep fryer, here. I loved that they used small florets of the cauliflower which allowed for more crispiness in each bite. Using the same batter as the fried chicken, these cauliflower bites are highly addictive, especially when dipped in the sweet & sour sriracha.
The last dish of the evening was the Dirty Fried Rice – red sausage, sweet soya sauce, Cajun trinity, peas & farm egg ($11). It was on the greasy side so I felt a little guilty eating this after everything else I had just eaten (fried chicken, double down… yeah, one of those kinda nights). I expected to have my mind blown after hearing so many great things about this dish. Not exactly mind-blowing but it was a solid plate of fried rice. It’s hard to hate something that has Chinese sausage in it!
Sure, there were a few misses but the hits were fantastic and are things I’d come back for. Like I said, Patois is bringing something a little different to the city’s food scene. It’s something worth checking out!
At a glance:
- “Caribbean meets Asian Soul Food”
- French-trained Chef Craig Wong who comes from a Chinese-Jamaican background
- Reservations online or by phone
- Dinner everyday from 5pm except Tuesdays; Sunday brunch
- Can order the “Whole Shebang” (aka the entire menu) for $99.99 (serves 3-4)
- Overall, we were happy with our meal (although there were some misses)
- Favourite dishes: crispy nori green beans, fried cauliflower, ribs a l’orange
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3.5 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 3 stars