PINKY’S AND THE BRAIN

Richmond Hill Post - - Food - — YT

Leemo Han is no stranger to restau­rants. The restau­ra­teur first made waves in Toronto with Swish by Han, a col­labo­ra­tion with his brother Leeto, fol­lowed by the pop­u­lar Oddseoul. Leemo then stepped out on his own with Han­moto, his Ja­panese snack bar on Dun­das West. His lat­est solo project is Pinky’s Ca Phe, tucked away in a small space near Col­lege and Clin­ton.

“Viet­namese food in Toronto is a lit­tle sim­ple,” Han says while rem­i­nisc­ing about restau­rants ded­i­cated to per­fect­ing that one dish, like a joint that only served up pho ga (chicken pho) or grilled quail done over a spit.

“I don’t want to bas­tardize the food,” says Han. “It’s my take on it. There is no other restau­rant where you can get a Viet­namese ce­viche.”

His is a trio of yel­lowfin tuna, surf clams and scal­lops. Han doesn’t tone it done for those who shy away from the fishi­ness of fish sauce.

Other top dishes in­clude the Spring Chicken, which sees a boned chicken stuffed with Por­tuguese smoked pork ba­con, taro, car­rots, peas and ground pork. The dish was in­spired by Viet­namese spring rolls, ex­cept here the chicken — steamed, dried and fried — serves as the wrap­per.

Mean­while the So Fly Rice be­gins with con­poy (dried scal­lops), a pre­mium in­gre­di­ent in Asian cui­sine. It’s soaked overnight, pulled into sliv­ers and then topped with ikura salmon roe, juli­enned egg crepes and cilantro. A heavy dous­ing of fish sauce is strongly rec­om­mended.

The decor is in­spired by ’ 70s Viet­nam, ref­er­enc­ing bars that Amer­i­can GIs would hang out at dur­ing the Viet­nam War. The main din­ing area is adorned with flo­ral bar stools, and pot­ted plants dot the rooms.

A pink­ish glow is cast across the space, thanks to neon signs beam­ing off the wall. Pinky’s is cur­rently opened for din­ner only, though there are plans to serve bro­ken rice dishes for lunch, and a banh mi cart out front is in the works (Pinky’s Ca Phe, 53 Clin­ton St.).

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