Light Cafe already has three locations in Taiwan. But Jennifer Wong, along with her partners Jenny Sun, William Tseng and Avan Feng have brought this Taipei-based cafe to Toronto.
In fact, its Toronto storefront is this mini chain's first North American outpost. It's located inside the former Baldwin Village laundromat I frequented as an OCAD student, but Wong and her team have transformed the space into a bright, contemporary cafe. A living wall, for instance, sprouts plant life and serves as backdrop for the tables upfront.
Further back, a display case stocked with pastries serves as the partition to the open kitchen.
The drinks menu is rife with unique offerings, many available for dine-in only. Cotton candy coffee ($4.95) is perhaps the most spectacular. Staff present carafes of hot black coffee and steamed milk alongside a cloud of spun sugar and a mini macaron on the side.
You're supposed to pour the coffee over the cotton candy, which sweetens the drink as it dissolves.
Non-coffee drinks are just as decadent.
There are frosty matcha smoothies ($5.55), blood orange Italian sodas ($3.25) and peachy iced tea ($4.75) brewed from Pluck tea leaves and decorated with fresh fruit.
Food-wise, there's a variety of baked treats including macarons, mini-tarts and cakes.
There's also light lunch fare such as soup, salad, sandwiches, mini pizzas (which seem more like open faced sandwiches) and Belgian waffles studded with mochi for a chewy effect.
The ten sandwiches on offer include delicate takes on deli standards like egg salad ($8.75), smoked meat ($10.75) and a BLT ($8.75). More intriguing are options are the wasabi grilled chicken ($10.25) or the truffle mushroom croissant ($10.25).
I try the latter, a buttery house baked croissant topped with sautéed mushrooms, beefsteak tomato slices and ruffled lettuce dressed in truffle aioli. It tastes quite luxurious considering it's a rather light, vegetarian option.
From the lineup of leafy greens, I opt for the smoked duck breasts salad ($10.75) served over a bed of greens with chunks of cucumber, butternut squash, orange supremes, tomatoes and radish. I have it with the creamy sesame dressing, though the yuzu vinaigrette and a mustard soy dressing are among the alternate options.
Because it's a weekday, I wrap up this lunch hour with another coffee. This time, I try the iced drip coffee ($4.25) that's slowly cold-brewed over ice from Indonesian Mandheling beans. It's strong stuff and coffee ice cubes ensure it stays that way - just what I need before heading back to work.
Photos by Hector Vasquez.