Chinese Traditional Style Smoked Pork Pie

Chinese Traditional Style Smoked Pork Pie
346 Spadina Ave, Unit 107
Toronto, ON

Date of Visit: 2013-10-20

Downtown on a Sunday evening, and left to my own devices for dinner, Kensington Market always beckons my name. No, seriously – I made the rather eerie discovery that “Kensington” isn’t far off from “Ken Sinn Town”. While turning into the market along St.Andrew Street, I saw this signage on the sidewalk. I have never seen this store/sign before, and I was equally intrigued by the smoked pork pie and the very approachable $2.99 price tag.

sign

I sheepishly entered the store, just as the chef was taking his second puff from a freshly-lit cigarette outside. I apologized profusely as he abruptly abbreviated his break, and washed his hands in the back prep room.

The store is situated along the side of the old Bright Pearl restaurant, on St.Andrew St, across the street from KaChi. In fact, I think it shares the same address as the old Bright Pearl, and is registered as a unit of the building. Its signage states “Qianhe Golden Wheat cake Room”, but I’m pretty confident that is just left over from the previous tenant. This store’s name is a complete mystery to me, and I didn’t think to ask. Oops.

outside

The establishment is very low-frills, with a singular poster for menu items, a few seats and tables. The clientele tends to be grab-and-go, based on my conversations with the chef.

inside

Despite four different photos on the signage, there is only one item on the menu — Chinese Traditional Style Smoked Pork “Pie”. “Pie” being a direct translation of its Chinese name, it is more Chinese spring onion pancake or Indian/Malaysian paratha. In fact, based on the photos and its name, I was expecting pork meat rolled in an scallion pancake that I’ve had elsewhere.

Chef Fan tells me that he’s been making these Smoked Pork Pancake Rolls in China for over 20 years. When he decided to get into the food business in Toronto, he humbly admitted that he only knew how to make one thing — and there aren’t many other places selling quite the same product. This place has been open for about 1.5 months, and on good days, he may need two or three people helping out.

He pulls a wad of dough, and begins rolling out the pancake flatbread.

rolled

Brushing both sides with oil, he throws the flatbread onto the induction grill, and we wait for it to magically puff up, toasting golden brown on both sides.

puffed

I was absolutely unprepared for Chef Fan to heap a mountain of toppings onto my flatbread — blanched bean sprouts, matchstick white turnips, cilantro, and green onions, along with sweet bean sauce and sriracha — and of course, Chinese-style smoked pork meat.

unwrap

Rolled up, it was as hefty as a burrito — flavourful mix of the sweet and spicy sauces, light smokiness and saltiness from the pork meat, and cilantro and green onions to brighten up the meatiness. Best when warm, all the various filling was cold, so the wrap cools down rather quickly. The combination of flavours and the texture of the flatbread is reminiscent of a peking duck wrap, with a bit more smokiness — of course with the addition of a ton more bean sprouts and turnips — the turnips are very light in flavour and do not disrupt the wrap.

wrap

I thought I was stopping in for a $3 snack before a full dinner — how wonderfully wrong I was. I was stuffed, and it was through sheer willpower and determination that I managed to also finish a pumpkin pie Japanese crepe at Millie’s Creperie afterwards.

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