The craftsmanship, attention to detail and passion required to forge the finest Japanese knives is comparable to that of a chef experimenting with food to create a dish. Both include elements of alchemy. The chefs and their knives that we service at Tosho Knife Arts prepare some of the finest meals in the city of Toronto. We are proud to be a part of the culinary industry which allows us to provide the fundamental tools and services that help chefs succeed. We wanted to honour that bridge connecting our two worlds. As a team we decided to visit restaurants in the city in order to truly immerse ourselves in the food and beverage industry in our rich, diverse city.
Patois is a Jamaican-Asian fusion restaurant on Dundas St West by the talented chef/owner Craig Wong. The decor in the dining room is laid-back, with quirky, colorful pool floats adorning the ceiling by the bar. Our team of five arrives at the newly rebuilt Patois at around 7pm (they suffered from a fire in 2016 that forced them to close and renovate), and we settle in and go over the menu. The restaurant is bustling for a Tuesday night: the soothing euphony of conversations, laughter, and clinking plates fills the room. I know immediately I want to have the Michiba Crispy Brussel Sprouts, and when we ask the server what she reckons we try, I smile as she confirms my recommendation. We choose to share a generous selection of menu items, starting with the aforementioned Michiba Crispy Brussel Sprouts, and Oxtail and Garlic Festival Breadsticks. This is followed by the Juicy Jerk Chicken and Curry Goat Doubles, both on the spicy side. The Dirty Fried Rice comes next, along with a fatty plate of pork belly. Unbeknownst to the rest of us, Olivia (owner of Tosho Knife Arts) ordered the curry crab roti and Jamaican oxtail and we struggle to make room for it all. Some of the orders come with this heavenly garlic sauce that Brian, our manager, practically eats on its own with a spoon. Seriously, it was good. I’m considering petitioning to have it bottled and sold to the public.
Juicy Jerk Chicken, Dirty Fried Rice
Curry Goat Doubles
Steven, our Social Media Lead, is invited to check out the kitchen and document the preparation of dishes, but when he doesn’t come back until dessert (he was in there for 25 minutes!), I joke that they’ve recruited him and he’s on the line preparing our next dish. Over one serving of Cookie Butter French Toast and a handful of forks, Craig joins us in what becomes an impromptu storytelling session. We listen as he weaves the tales behind his dishes and why he chooses to prepare them the way he does. Chef Craig’s Jamaican-Chinese heritage and his upbringing in Scarborough play a part in the creation of his dishes. His passion gave us the impression that the dishes he creates should stir within you a memory and incite nostalgia, and we even learn that the curry goat doubles are actually a family recipe of his Trinidadian Chef de Cuisine, Mat Agostini. The Dirty Fried Rice is a play on Southern dirty rice, from his visit to Charleston where he like the food but found it particularly heavy. His interpretation is a bit lighter with an added Chinese influence. The rice includes both red sausage and lap cheong and I try to keep up as Craig names what feels like seven different spices he included. The Cookie Butter French Toast is his rendition of Hong Kong style French toast, which is typically made with condensed milk and peanuts. Craig uses ground-up cookies which serves as the batter, and it’s a dessert perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth.
After our scrumptious, almost gluttonous meal, I’m practically waddling to the Bathurst bus stop. Getting an intimate view into the Patois menu and kitchen, where many of the chefs including Craig use knives serviced by us at Tosho, really brings things full circle. As guests, we got to experience the end product that begins with having a well-maintained knife as well as supporting our local food scene. Our journey as diners, where we’ll navigate the endless sea of wine-bars, sushi joints, gastropubs, has started on a delicious note.