One Hour probably has the best seating of any downtown restaurant or cafĂŠ. So simple, yet so often overlooked; the bean bag chair. I thought they were long retired since going 'out' back in middle school, but alas, they remain in numbers on Spadina just south of College.
One Hour is a new tea house in Chinatown perfectly suited for marathon study sessions. Those days, thankfully, are behind me, yet I can still feel the pangs of soreness in my lower back (and head) when I think of the hours spent in straight-back chairs during exam time. One Hour, owner Han Shao tells me, was designed with students in mind, with both high bar seating and low communal tables with bean bags waiting for recipients at either side.
White walls and pale wood carry the brightness from the front window along the length of the space, creating an open, airy atmosphere with lots of room to stretch out. Han leads me past the bar to the back area, which is stocked with its own collection of tables and bean bag chairs. "We will be using this space for special events, parties," Han says.
Originally from China, Han came to Toronto with the intention of studying and working in architecture, but he soon abandoned those plans in favour of opening up this shop with a designer friend. "One hour," he says, "that's all it takes to change your day. If you spend one hour here, we want it to be the best hour of your day."
Just opened one month, Han is still working out the kinks in his menu, but he tells me One Hour will offer a combination of light fare--snacks, desserts, noodle soups--as well as a variety of traditional Chinese teas. I sip an iced mango green ($3.99), which is cool and refreshing with lots of flavour and slight floral undertones, as I browse some of the other menu offerings.
Tea ($3.99/s, $4.99/lg) is available in endless options including cold or hot, green or black, and classic or slush (+$1.00), and in flavours such as Taro, Almond, Red Bean, and White Gourd. The savoury food options at the moment are limited to homemade beef noodle soup ($4.99/$5.99) and a couple other options, though Han says the kitchen is working on a decadent cheesecake.
Again with students in mind, One Hour is open every day from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., and WiFi free and available. Of course, they had me at the bean bags.
Photos by Jesse Milns