A couple months ago, a group of us dropped by Rasa for dinner and felt that the food was a little hit and miss. After reading my post, the Food Dudes (@) reached out to me asking for a second chance. Being a big fan of the Food Dudes and coupled with the fact that the day of our initial visit was the first day they launched their new menu, I was more than happy to return to check out their latest offerings. We made quite a dent in their menu and dish after dish, we were impressed with what was coming out of the kitchen.
Before I get into the food, let’s talk about the restaurant itself. Located on Harbord, a couple blocks west of Spadina, the space is slightly below-grade which gives it a dark, basement-like feel to it. It features an open kitchen, a bar and two dining areas. Rasa also has a large patio which will come in handy once the weather warms up in the spring.
The globally-inspired menu offers a bit of everything and dishes are severed tapas-style which makes it very conducive to sharing. It’s a fairly extensive menu and I can assure you, you’ll want to order everything, so I recommend bringing a few other friends along.
Mike and I started out with these adorable Jalapeño Cornbread Biscuits. I didn’t get much of a kick from the jalapeño but boy were these bites tasty!
Next up was the Dumpling – duck confit, shrimp, chili garlic, gailan, mushroom, smoked duck broth, thai basil salad. Despite sitting in a broth, the dumpling skin had a nice crunch when we bit into them. The duck filling was delicious – make sure you get a bit of that wonderful broth and green garnish in each bite.
I’m absolutely not a salad person but you’ll always find me ordering The Chopped Salad – vegetables, quinoa, macedonian feta, crispy chickpeas, sumac ($13) at Rasa. With 14 different ingredients in it, there’s an abundance of flavours and textures that marry together so perfectly. You’ll never get bored of it either as the ingredients change with the seasons.
Another must-order is the Rasa Fish Board which consists of three different components which change every so often.
We started off with the Swordfish Crudo which was my favourite of the three. The swordfish itself was delicious but the combination of it with the pickled grapes, jalapenos, romesco and almonds worked wonderfully. One big (awesome) party in your mouth!
The next component we dug into was the Cured Pomegranate Salmon which was served with pomegranate seeds, fennel and a generous serving of greek yogurt.I loved the light cured salmon on its own but I didn’t find the greek yogurt necessary (or not that much of it, anyway) as I found it a bit too overpowering for the delicate salmon.
Mike’s top pick (and a close second for me) was the Scallop Tiradito. The delicate scallops just melted in our mouths and had a nice fresh citrus flavour which complemented the scallops perfectly.
Next up was the Spare Ribs – root beer float, tamarind, whipped buttermilk, pickled things & corn nuts which were literally fall-off-the-bone tender. I loved the sweet and sticky glaze and it was an all-around tasty rib.
The Po Boy Bites – fried shrimp, remoulade sauce, coleslaw, green tomato relish, buttermilk brioche, old bay ($14) is another dish that will get revamped every so often. I wasn’t a big fan of the last version they were serving up but their current version is a significant improvement. This is exactly what I imagine a po boy to be like – I loved the crispy shrimp with the saucy mess of coleslaw, remoulade sauce and green tomato relish (which was awesome, by the way). They make for a great little bar snack.
Another great bar snack is the Jalapeño Poppers – serrano ham, goat cheddar, lime crema, pico de gallo, fried shallots ($12). It was a lot spicier than I remembered but I like it hot! Rasa’s version is a nice take on the classic bar snack.
One of the fan favourites at Rasa is the Truffle Gnudi – wild mushrooms, portobello soil, pickled shimenji, parsley pesto, mushroom emulsion, padano crisps. Last time, we shared this dish amongst six people and that definitely didn’t do it any justice as you miss out on so many components of the dish. You really need to give it a good mix before you dig into it so each bite has a bit of the portobello soil, pickled shimenji, peso and mushroom emulsion. It’s a mushroom lover’s dream!
A special being offered on this visit was the Pizza Risotto – with crispy sardines. When it arrived at our table, it certainly smelled like pizza! The risotto itself had a nice consistency and was packed full of flavour but the star of the dish for me was the crispy sardines. Delish!
The last savoury dish we had was the Grilled Octopus – glazed pork belly, parsnip puree, apple & kale salad, potato salad. The rich, fatty pork belly paired with the tender grilled octopus is a match made in heaven – it’s a classic combination which never gets old (especially when it’s done this well!). The apple and kale salad was the perfect accompaniment which help cut the richness from the pork belly.
For dessert, we had the Cereal – chocolate oats, cookie milk ice cream, banana, cocoa nut milk ($9). So much more delicious than the cereal I eat everyday for breakfast! It’s a pretty filling combination of ingredients, so I wouldn’t recommend tackling this dessert on your own.
The other dessert was had was the Cranberry Cake – with brown sugar glaze & cranberry sauce ice cream. This totally knocked it out of the park for me and was the perfect way to end off the meal. The cake and cranberry sauce ice cream wasn’t too sweet and had a great tartness to it. Scoop up a bit of the brown sugar glaze and you’ve got a winning dessert!
Mike and I had such a wonderful experience this time around. With great drinks, friendly service and most importantly, delicious food, you’ll be in great hands with Executive Chef Adrian Niman and his team!
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*