Ku-Kum

NOW Magazine - - COVER STORY -

At his in­ti­mate mid­town kitchen, Odawa chef Joseph Shawana merges the tech­niques he learned over 10 years in Toronto restau­rants (from pubs to fine din­ing to a cor­po­rate gig at Rogers Cen­tre) with the cui­sine of his her­itage, putting lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents and game meats front and cen­tre. First things first: Yes, this may be the only place in town to serve seal, bring­ing Ku-Kum the kind of free public­ity that only overblown, my­opic protests can pro­vide. The much-bal­ly­hooed seal tartare didn’t re­ally turn my crank – it was akin to an aquatic Vegemite, musky and bit­ter. But seal loin, waved over a flame? Del­i­cate as a rare steak, with a slight steely tang – and a fine foil to sweet beets and maple syrup. Other high­lights: Killer smoked trout, pâté with ban­nock, and a rich cho­co­late mousse dot­ted with flow­ers and gold leaf. Not ev­ery­thing was note-per­fect – an un­der­done parsnip here, a just-okay cari­bou ham­burger steak there – but Shawana’s skill and sin­gu­lar ap­proach make Ku-Kum a truly unique din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in a city that’s seem­ingly seen it all. 581 Mount Pleas­ant, at Manor, 416-519-2638, kukum-kitchen.com

The “Arc­tic trio” of seal tartare, salmon and smoked trout at Ku-Kum.

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