Teara Lab is a new restaurant from the minds that brought you KaKa All You Can Eat . Sitting prettily in the space formerly occupied by Burrito Planet, it's the first restaurant in Toronto that serves up fusion Japanese burgers.
The restaurant space is small but welcoming. There is a cute laboratory motif here - the staff wear lab coats and the company logo is a bubbling beaker. Considering its proximity to University of Toronto's Health Sciences Building and the MaRS Discovery District, the overall theme is strikingly apropos.
Chef Frank Liu, who also happens to be the head chef of KaKa, cleverly weaves Japanese-inspired ingredients and components into each burger creation, resulting in an interesting fusion take that I haven't seen anywhere else before in the GTA.
The Teppanyaki Teriyaki Chicken Burger ($10.99) is a clear example of this. The burger uses dark meat, something very common in Asia but virtually unheard of in Canada where white meat is more commonly used.
This results in a fantastically tender and juicy cut of chicken which pairs beautifully with the umami taste of the teriyaki sauce. The light coating of wasabi mayonnaise ties the whole dies together. This is by far my favourite dish here and is a must-try.
The Soy Glazed Pork Belly Burger ($11.99) is no slouch either. When you make a dish like this, you have to get that pork belly just right. Teara achieves this with the pork belly having a very slight char that gives its otherwise fatty texture a light crisp exterior. The way it melts in your mouth is simply culinary poetry.
The Red Wine Braised Beef Burger ($13.99) uses prime rib meat, and the quality of the meat shows. It's the most expensive menu item, and for good reason: the meat is both substantial and tender. The flavours come alive and the absolute mess you will make when you bite into it only makes the entire experience that much more fun.
All the burgers here can be ordered a la carte or with their signature fries and pop for $2 extra, making it a combo. The fries here are nicely done. Freshly fried and lovingly coated in a seaweed seasoning, they are perfect for munching by themselves or as a sidekick to your buns.
The Tonkatsu Pork Burger ($9.99) and the Curry Japanese Pork Burger ($9.99) are also crowd-pleasers. The former comes with a healthy mix of sweet tonkatsu sauce and honey mustard that goes well with the pork, while the latter excels with its smooth, vegetable-rich taste that is emblematic of Japanese curry.
To drink, I urge everyone to try Ramune ($3.49) - the popular Japanese marble soda. It comes in a glass bottle (with ergonomic grooves to place your fingers) but you need to push a clear marble into the soda to release the fizz inside the drink.