sunnys chinese toronto

Chinese restaurant that was a huge hit during lockdown opening first Toronto location

The first Toronto location will soon be opening for a Chinese restaurant pop-up that was created during lockdown.

The people behind Sunny's Chinese actually had ambitions to open a restaurant right before lockdown hit, but restrictions interfered with their plans for a dramatic restaurant that was supposed to be all about dine-in.

"The same team behind Sunny's Chinese has been working on Mimi for the last couple years," Mimi executive chef David Schwartz tells blogTO.

"We had originally planned to open Mimi in April of 2020. COVID put a halt to that plan and subsequently resulted in the birth of Sunny's Chinese. We finally feel like the timing is right to open Mimi."

The first Sunny's Chinese pop-up was in November 2020, the project highlighting regional dishes like smacked cucumber, stir fried rice rolls, dan dan noodles and twice cooked pork, slick photos of the the traditional foods posted on Instagram. Presales blew up, with Sunny's selling out frequently.

"Both Mimi and Sunny's are focused on regional Chinese cuisine, but they differ mainly in the style of experience they will offer and the specific regions they will lean into," says Schwartz.

Mimi will focus on larger format sharing plates paired with wine, sake and cocktails, and aims to pay homage to the history of Chinese food and beverage culture. Depending on pronunciation, Mimi can have several translations, but its direct meaning is "beautiful beautiful."

"Mimi is all about the theatre of dining so it did not make sense to open in the middle of the pandemic," says Schwartz.

"We always wanted Mimi to be the kind of restaurant where you walk in and lose sense of place and time, kind of like a casino. We want people to get lost and forget about their day to day for a brief moment."

Braden Chong is still on board as executive sous chef, Keith Siu as junior sous chef. Joseph Ysmael will serve as senior sous chef for Mimi, with Anthony Yeung as general manager and Mica White as part of the service team.

Mimi should be opening in October in the Yorkville area, which should tide Chinese food lovers over while they wait for a physical location of Sunny's Chinese to open.

"The best way to describe the relationship between the two restaurants is that Sunny's will be the funkier and more casual downtown cousin to Mimi," says Schwartz.

"Sunny's will focus on Southwestern and Northern Chinese provinces paired with natural wines and beer slushies. We're very excited about our charcoal grill here where we plan to explore shao kao: Chinese-style BBQ."

Sunny's is filling big shoes in Kensington Market, taking over the space where Cold Tea once was, and should be opening in spring 2022.

Lead photo by

Sunny's Chinese/Studio Gabe/Rachel Tong

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