It’s all about this icy Korean dessert

Plus a charm­ing new bistro, a resto for comic book nerds and a big craft brew­ery

Richmond Hill Post - - FOOD -

Since pop­ping up on the dessert scene, the Cups has been carv­ing out quite the name for it­self. With the orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion in Thorn­hill, a sib­ling dessert café has been se­duc­ing the good peo­ple of North York as of late. Now that the weather has warmed up, it’s the per­fect time to dive into a bowl of bingsu — Korea’s sum­mery shaved ice treat.

Any­one un­fa­mil­iar with bingsu should note that it’s re­ally a dessert to share. The term “bingsu” is a short­ened form of “pat­bingsu,” which means “red beans and ice” in Korean. In South Korea the dessert is in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar once the weather hots up, and if you’ve ever lived in or vis­ited the ROK, chances are you found its al­lure in­escapable.

At the Cups, the bingsu is nat­u­rally a ma­jor draw. It’s avail­able in flavours like red bean, matcha and in­je­olmi — a pop­u­lar Korean rice cake topped with pow­dered dried beans. The bowl starts with a pile of fluffy milk shaved ice and is sub­se­quently loaded up with top­pings. The red bean ver­sion comes with sweet red bean, soy­bean pow­der, chewy mochi, al­mond sliv­ers, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and con­densed milk. For a proper bite, scoop up all the el­e­ments in one fell swoop. For less tra­di­tional flavours, go for the ex­trav­a­gant tiramisù bingsu, which comes topped with a slice of cake and whipped cream. The eatery also does in­di­vid­u­ally sized bing­sus, which ar­rive in a cup. Other eats in­clude Hawai­ian Spam musubi and spicy pork cup bap, but let’s be real — you came here for the dessert (The Cups, 5418 Yonge St., 416-546-3257). — Karolyne El­la­cott


If you’re a food lover and a comic book nerd who en­joys the finer things in life, lis­ten up. Fig­ures is here to in­ject a lit­tle fun into Yorkville. The 2,000-square-foot, 80-seat space is the do­ing of broth­ers Nader and Pa­trick Mar­zouk.

The metic­u­lously de­signed space is the work of Pro­to­type De­sign Lab who worked with the own­ers and lo­cal artists to cre­ate a unique art-filled space. Sur­pris­ingly, so­cial me­dia use is dis­cour­aged at Fig­ures.

This is not the broth­ers’ first rodeo: their first restau­rant is &Com­pany, the largest in­de­pen­dently owned restau­rant in Mis­sis­sauga. But for their new digs, the duo opted to branch out to Toronto.

“Yorkville is hav­ing a resur­gence,” says Nader. “It has great food, great ser­vice, fan­tas­tic venues but is lack­ing a bit of fun.” The eatery has al­ready been vis­ited by Kim K’s best pal Jonathan Che­ban and a few Rap­tors.

Some of the rare finds that you’ll dis­cover in the Fig­ures store in­clude orig­i­nal Archie comic draw­ings, the first-ever Su­per­man statue and a col­lec­tion of the orig­i­nal Mickey Mouse books from 1921. There’s also a first ren­der­ing model of Darth Vader, of which only 100 were made. It’ll cost you a cool $5,000.

Ex­ec­u­tive chef Ron Strat­ton has worked with mas­ter chefs, in­clud­ing Daniel Boulud and Marc Thuet. His small plate menu is built around fresh in­gre­di­ents, mean­ing that it changes fre­quently. Pasta might be over­sized ravi­oli filled with butternut squash and fin­ished with a hand-poured squash purée ($22). Lob­ster may ar­rive served two ways: a tem­pura lob­ster claw with caviar and a lob­ster salad topped with a fried egg ($38). As for dessert, they do a Mex­i­can choco­late num­ber that hides a rich choco­late square topped with 22 karat gold flakes and choco­late ro­bots ($18) (Fig­ures, 137 Av­enue Rd., 416-900-1022). — Amanda Nunes


Mid­town has al­ways been home to great neigh­bour­hood bistros. Al­though the likes of Célestin and Mo­gette Bistro are no more, not all is lost. Lau­rie Hillesheim, long-time in­dus­try vet­eran and first-time restau­ra­teur has opened up Birch Bistro in the old Célestin spot on Mount Pleas­ant. Hillesheim has en­listed chef Philippe Coeur­dassier, for­merly of Mo­gette Bistro, to run the kitchen. Just like that, we’ve come full cir­cle.

“French cui­sine is my favourite, and this was my dream lo­ca­tion,” Hillesheim says. The re­cent gen­eral man­ager of Nota Bene de­cided to name the restau­rant af­ter her favourite tree that is beau­ti­ful but also nour­ishes forests. “I just want to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful space, with beau­ti­ful food with thought­ful and kind ser­vice; a great neigh­bour­hood spot,” she says.

The 70-seat bistro has el­e­gant yet sim­ple de­signs with a 1901 Heintz­man pi­ano as an ac­cent, bur­gundy ban­quettes and a bank vault, rem­nants of its for­mer oc­cu­pant. On the menu you’ll find clas­sic bistro fare such as duck con­fit, steak frites and moules marinières. With chef Coeur­dassier hav­ing grown up near Al­sace, he says, “cook­ing is in my blood.” The salmon “can­nel­loni” is a source of pride for chef, who uses slices of salmon as the pasta to en­case a creamy leek fon­due served with a side of frisée.

On the dessert menu you’ll find French classics such as crème brûlée and île flot­tante (a meringue bathed in a pool of crème anglaise) (Birch Bistro, 623A Mt. Pleas­ant Rd.). — Yvonne Tsui


Lib­erty Vil­lage has it­self a grand new brew­ery. Big Rock, Canada’s largest in­de­pen­dent craft brew­ery, has teamed up with Oliver & Bonacini to open up Lib­erty Com­mons. The Lib­erty Vil­lage brew­ery is Big Rock’s sec­ond in On­tario af­ter their pro­duc­tion­scale fa­cil­ity in Eto­bi­coke.

The Big Rock Beer Shop up­stairs will pour sam­ples from their eight taps (plus eight more growler fill sta­tions) into 12 oz. glasses. For re­tail op­tions, they have tall cans, bot­tles in sixes and 12s, plus 32 oz. and 64 oz. growlers.

Down­stairs, full pints and tast­ing flights are avail­able. The menu fea­tures plenty of rec­og­niz­able favourites like fish and chips, Scotch eggs and a beefy cot­tage pie. There are also shar­ing dishes like Moby Dick fish and chips ($75) (Lib­erty Com­mons at Big Rock Brew­ery, 42 Lib­erty St., 416-304-9403 ). — David Ort

Clock­wise from left: Fig­ures’ beet carpac­cio and tartare, the burger at Lib­erty Com­mons, Birch Bistro’s duck con­fit with as­para­gus

The Cups sure knows its bingsu desserts

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