Big Trouble Bar
Big Trouble is a bar tucked away above a location of Sichuan Ren, paying homage to its neighbourhood and the heritage of its sibling owners with a creative bilingual menu of baijiu bottles, Tsingtao, and dumplings.
It’s named for the movie Big Trouble in Little China, and doesn’t shy away from typically Chinese elements, reinterpreting them through a modern North American lens.
This is wholeheartedly embraced in the design of what was once a raw upper floor space. Moody paper lanterns hang in clusters from the ceiling. Movie posters pasted to walls and murals lend a street feel to the bar, laundry strung in the hallway leading to the washrooms.
Guacamole ($7) is deceptively simple in appearance, the bar classic amped up considerably with the addition of jicama, red pepper, scallion, ginger, lemongrass and sesame soy. The punchy dip gets another twist served with puffy, crispy wonton chips.
Spicy Coconut Firecracker Shrimp ($9) come in a crispy spring roll wrapper with a chipotle lime aioli, juicy, crunchy, and crushable. Not bad at about a dollar each.
Bang Bang Shrimp ($7) are just as addictive and quick to disappear, smothered in a sweet and spicy sauce that’s also surprisingly creamy. I could eat these like candy.
Pidan Tofu ($9) is something I order because I’m curious about some rarer ingredients. Jiggly tofu sits atop a bed of gravy made from century egg white, the yolk crumbled on either side.
This lends a slight fermented taste that contrasts with the clean tofu and tobiko, pork floss bringing in another texture and flavour.
The BT Dumpling Tower is an order of eight or 16 potstickers ($15/$28) layered up with melted Muenster, salsa and (wait for it) arugula, finished off with house gochujang spicy drizzle.
The concoction reminds me a little of something I’d whip up late at night with whatever’s in the fridge, but that said it’d probably follow up a bottle of baijiu nicely.
We go with aromatic spicy ginger butternut squash potstickers, the other options being pork and leek or cheeseburger.
A 10-ounce baijiu bottle mixed with mangosteen and lemon runs for $24. Baijiu is a clear Chinese liquor typically made from grain, “baijiu” translating to “white liquor.”
“Served in shot glasses to share, strong & dangerous!” reads the menu and it’s not false advertising: just a whiff of it is enough to put a little hair on your chest, and while it has a potent boozy flavour it’s too easy to polish off in those little shots.
I admit I feel a little tingly in the extremities after just a little of the stuff.
Happy hours are Thursday 5:30 - 8, food served until midnight weekdays and 1 on weekends.