The restaurant, which stands for Rebel & Demon, is not only a reflection of their personalities but also a play on their engineering backgrounds (“research & development”). While Alvin Leung (@) may not be well known in Toronto, he’s well known overseas where his restaurant, Bo Innovation, has three Michelin stars.
Eric certainly showed his cooking chops on the TV show and what’s even more impressive is his age. Last year, he won the show at the ripe age of 21. Rounding out the kitchen team is Chef de Cuisine Nelson Tsai who has previously worked at the Trump Toronto and Auberge du Pommier.
R&D is located on Spadina, just south of Dundas in the space that used to be the home of Strada 241. They’ve divided the restaurant into three distinct dining areas: the bar/lounge at the entrance followed by bar seating overlooking the open kitchen and a large dining room at the very back.
The menu features modern Asian fare with dishes inspired by Eric and Alvin’s travels through Asia while conceptualizing the menu. They’ve gone back to their Hong Kong and Malaysian roots and have added a western twist to dishes. You’ll find items like Duck Bak Kut Teh soup with a matzo ball, shiitake polenta fries and General Sanders’ chicken with HK egg waffles.
Their creativity also extends to their cocktail menu which features ingredients like black garlic & Chinese mushroom infused vodka, peking duck infused whisky and a pina colada bubble tea drink.
Last week, I was invited for lunch and I definitely left satisfied. Here’s a look at what you can expect from their lunch menu:
Umami Caesar – tomato, clams, celery, Brussels sprouts, kale ($15)
Grandpa’s Fun Guo – chicken, black truffle ($9)
Steak Tartare – beef tenderloin, son-in-law egg, toast ($17)
Octopus – chargrilled, choy sum chimichurri, “yu heung” eggplant ($16)
Poutine – mapo style bean curd ($9)
My personal favourites were the Umami Caesar and Octopus. When I first read the description of the umami Caesar, I wasn’t quite sure how all the components fit together but it all made sense after our server explained that it was a play on the Caesar drink (of course!). The combination of the refreshing celery slaw, Brussels sprout leaves, crispy kale and briney clams worked deliciously well. I’d happily order this again.
I’m a big fan of octopus and this dish was no exception. Given the size of the tentacles, I expected it to be on the chewy side but this wasn’t the case at all. It was wonderfully soft and the Asian take on the chimichurri and the eggplant made for a great accompaniment.
I had a wonderful lunch at R&D and I can only imagine how much fun this place would be in the evening. You can bet I’ll be back!
*This was a complimentary meal. The opinions in the post, as always, are my own.*