Soos is the newest addition to Ossington's thriving restaurant scene, taking over the address from French restaurant parAMOUR. The new Malaysian eatery and bar is a family endeavour, owned and operated by veteran restaurateur family the Soos: Zenn, Tricia, Zac and Lauren, plus "adopted" bar manager, Johnny Kountourogiannis.
The interior design from family friend Sasha Josipovicz of Studio Pyramid features a main dining room and bar wallpapered with purple and red lanterns, while the opposing wall is striped in black and white and bears the family name in oversized vintage letters. The semi-private, Malacca-inspired dining room draws on the influence of the Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese on the Southern Malay state, and the striking back room seats 12 at popping red chairs around a long communal table.
The menu boasts family recipes and fresh takes on Nyonya cuisine (Chinese-influenced Malaysian flavours) served in the most popular formats du jour: small shareable plates, bar snacks and street foods like Malay-styled Red Chili Wings ($8), Rendang Beef Poutine ($11) and Pulled Kaptain Tacos ($7). I tried the tacos topped with shredded curry chicken, napa carrot slaw and a dollop of of cold refreshing tzatziki, which come two per order on housemade shells.
Pork Belly Pancakes ($10, lead photo) are sticky and sweet, soy-glazed slabs of meat ribboned with layers of fat and served over taro root pancakes. These are excellent examples of pork belly done right — arduously boiled, fried, simmered and then pressed so that the fat is crisped on the outside and melting in the middle.
The Mango Slaw ($9) is the perfect side order to the belly. It cuts through the richness with a tart sesame, lime and chili dressed mix of mangoes, cabbage, carrots and peppers, garnished with crispy fried shallots.
While snackbar-type plates dominate the menu, there are few hearty mains listed along with daily specials like a traditional Nasi Kunyit ($14), turmeric scented sticky rice with saucy Nyonya chicken curry.
Behind the bar there are fun things happening too. Tea pot shots featuring 5 ounces of liquor are a nod towards Toronto's cold tea tradition and are meant to be shared at tables of two to four. I sample the Short and Stout ($24), a coffee and beer cocktail made with Cafe XO Patron, short espresso and Mill Street Cobblestone Stout. It's easy enough to shoot but also tasty enough to sip.
Soos is open for dinner and drinks from Tuesday to Sunday starting at 5pm. On weekdays the kitchen is open until about 10pm, while on weekends the family cooks until at least midnight.
Photos by Jesse Milns