Phoenix Cafe serves up fusion takes on Hong Kong and Malaysian favourites just steps from the Eaton Centre.
The restaurant is actually the fifth location for the local chain but its their first one downtown.
The modern, minimalist operation is more of a quick-serve format compared to what we're used to.
The crown jewel here is the Hainanese Chicken Rice ($10.50), often touted as the best of its kind in Toronto.
The dish consists of steamed chicken with garlic dipping sauces over a bed of chicken stock-infused rice. I kind of wish they used a fattier chicken, which is used predominantly in Asia, but this one is still delicious and comforting.
You can also create your own baked rice dish, a Canto-Western staple. I opt for the Chicken Chop Cutlet Baked Rice with Black Pepper Sauce ($14) and thoroughly enjoy the spicy peppery kick from the sauce that pairs well with the chicken chop’s crunchiness.
The Malaysian Curry Beef ($10.50) is a delight. I’m a big fan of the slightly sweet, peanuty, yet spicy flavours. The coconut milk adds a nice richness and the beef is surprisingly plump and tender. Get it with a side of Malaysian Roti (+$5).
Pork chop buns are another Hong Kong favourite, and there are two delicious versions to be had here.
The first is the simple Pork Chop Bun ($7), a pan-fried tender pork chop drizzled with mayonnaise served inside an HK-style bun. The second is the Pork Chop Cutlet Bun ($7.50) which uses deep fried pork chop instead.
Be sure to sample the Seafood Fried Rice with Caviar ($15). Mixed with a sweet soy sauce and adorned with shrimps and crab meat, this is far from a humdrum fried rice dish. The menu may call it “Japanese-style”, but I simply call it “delicious”.
And of course, the Satay Beef Instant Noodle ($6.50). A deceptively simple-looking dish and one of my absolute favourites. Instant noodles are mixed in a broth flavoured with Hong Kong style satay sauce which makes the dish slightly spicy and more savoury than your typical store-bought variety.
All Hong Kong drink staples are also present. Most notably is the smooth, slightly sweet Hong Kong Milk Tea ($2). The Hot Ying Yang ($2) is an interesting marriage of coffee and tea that is also worth trying.
The Crushed Ice Red Bean ($4.50) is pretty refreshing. The drink has a tendency to overflow, but I’m never going to complain about excess sweet red bean in my beverage.
Dessert comes in the form of a giant Napoleon Style Ice Cream ($9.50) adorned with strawberries and whipped cream. The magically light puff pastry is simply a dream come true, and goes well with black sesame ice cream.
If you want something less messy to share, get the Ice Cream Cube Toast ($9) which comes garnished with strawberries, sliced bananas, and more whipped cream. I opted for the green tea ice cream and wasn’t disappointed.