Little Sister is a new addition to the stretch of Yonge between Davisville and Eglinton. The food bar, created by Jennifer Gittins and Michael van den Winkel, the owners of nearby Quince Bistro, offers Toronto a taste of Indonesian-Dutch cuisine.
The duo's choice of cuisine was spurred by Winkel's past spent cooking for the Dutch navy, as well as the popularity of the traditional Dutch Rijsttafel feasts, featuring a vast array of Indonesian dishes, that Quince has hosted in recent years.
The space by Commute and design by Biography can be described as urban-grunge. Patterned walls are distressed to reveal crumbling plaster beneath, and the kitchen, encased by glass, imitates the street hawkers of Kaki Lima, who display the "menu" of the day scrawled onto scraps of cardboard or painted onto windows.
The menu is an assemblage of small plates that can be ordered en masse and shared at the table, a la carte as a snack, or with a side of rice or salad as a satisfying meal. The satay babi ($6), one of three types of skewers on offer, features pork smothered in a rich peanut sauce. I'd rate them a "must try" - though there's a chicken version I suspect is equally as good, and another flavoured with Balinese spices.
From the snack selections, I try shrimp lettuce wraps ($10) served in pairs. Just-done prawns are nestled into bibb lettuce cups with a drizzle of sambal chili sauce for heat, pickled cucumbers for a cooling component, and fried shallots for crunch.
Traditional dishes include curries and braised meats. I try the semur java ($14.50), a deeply-spiced braised beef dish topped with crispy potatoes and green onions.
An order of nasi goreng ($5.25) on the side helps sop up all the rich Javanese gravy. In all honesty, though, the vegetarian fried long-grain rice is awesome all on its own, specked with leeks and white cabbage and packed with flavours of cumin, coriander, sambal and ketjap manis.
John Szabo did the wine list, taking into account the myriad of dishes consumed at once to offer complementing selections. On draught, Amsterdam, Muskoka and Beau's are available by the pint ($7.50) or half pint ($5). The cocktail list offers blended drinks like Kintamani Punch ($12), made with muddled watermelon, rum, coconut and lemongrass sake, and rhubarb bitters.
Little Sister is currently open every day (except Monday) from 4pm until 10pm or later.
Photos by Jesse Milns