Restaurant Review: AP – Glamorous Pan-Asian cuisine in Yorkville
|Address||55 Bloor Street West, 51st Floor (in the Manulife Centre)|
|Dinner for four with wine||$600|
Antonio Park’s glitzy new restaurant, aptly named AP, makes its home in the Manulife Centre, 51 stories above street level for a much sought after city view. It’s the esteemed Montreal restauranteur’s second entrance into the Toronto market with the pan-Asian cuisine he is so well known for (the first was Pick 6ix, Drake’s sports bar). AP is the newest restaurant from Scale Hospitality (Toronto Beach Club, Chica, Lapinou, Figo, Byblos), where Ted Corrado is the corporate executive chef.
AP is the type of restaurant that many locals dream about. It’s in a swanky neighbourhood, it has an incredible view and it has a sophisticated atmosphere, placing it high on peoples’ lists for a romantic evening out. The menu is broad and likeable. From fresh cuts of sushi to Asian-inspired slaws, there’s a cornucopia of flavours that will surely please the most discriminating diners.
With a prime location like AP’s, it’s a hospitality tragedy that neither of its predecessors, The One Eighty and Panorama, couldn’t shake their reputations as tourist traps. I swore I would never dine at The One Eighty again after sharing mediocre cocktails and a cardboard-like pizza crust smothered in barbecue sauce and various canned toppings. I still shudder at the thought.
Our visit to AP starts with an elevator ride up to the 51st floor. When the gold doors open, the hostess warmly welcomes our party. A massive decorative art installation is suspended from the ceiling, adding some grandeur to the chic rooftop restaurant. The bar faces us head on and the main seating area with tufted banquettes and round dining tables recedes into the space, almost blending into the panoramic view. There are plenty of tables – so many for the restaurant’s square footage that it makes me feel claustrophobic.
As we settle into our seats, we peruse the wine list and select a bottle of Austrian Grüner Veltliner. As anticipated, the crisp, balanced wine with mature acidity is delightful, and pairs wonderfully with the spicy Asian flavours.
The menu at AP Restaurant is a true testament to Corrado’s vision as well as Chef Antonio Park’s mastery of Japanese and South American cuisine. Divided into eight sections, the menu is vast, and we ask for assistance navigating it and selecting our dishes. Other than a few typos on the menu, everything sounds incredibly finessed and delicious.
We start with the Jumbo Shrimp Tempura ($24), Bluefin Tuna Tataki ($24), ‘Park’ Slaw ($22) and Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche ($27). Each dish is expertly prepared and presented in a visually stunning manner. While some of the seafood is from Japan, the majority is from Mexico, the server tells me after she reports back from the kitchen.
The Hokkaido Scallop Ceviche is stunning both in its presentation and flavour, with finely mandolined radishes concealing a vibrant mixture of scallop, avocado, sesame, green chili bathing in a yuzu dressing. The Park Slaw, a vegetable-forward dish, is reminiscent of Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw. When it arrives, it’s piled high on a plate and topped with a decorative mound of carrot ribbons. It’s show stopping in its appearance, and is the perfect candidate to be mixed table-side by our server, but it is left for us to do at our own pace.
The parade of flavours continues with main entrees for the table to share: Scallops ($45), Lemongrass Lamb Chops ($46), Miso Black Cod (market price) and a side of Kimchi fried rice ($15). My guests and I concur that AP knows what it’s doing when it comes to scallops. The delicate protein is tender and is further elevated with brown butter, wild radish and a punchy tom yum sauce, providing the signature flavour Park is known for. We only wish we’d ordered another.
A dish such as miso black cod is synonymous with most Asian fusion restaurants, but AP’s is far from ordinary. The fish’s richness has a natural affinity for ingredients like miso – the extremely salty paste made from fermented soybeans – and is accented with crunchy snow pea tips and a charred scallion salsa verde. On top of this exquisite dish is a crispy kombu chip for garnish, which lends a lovely textural component to the dish. Our server tells us that the Kimchi fried rice is a popular dish, and AP’s is made with housemade kimchi, which is some of the best I’ve had in recent memory. It’s well-fermented and flavourful, and the rice is perfectly al dente. The most satisfying part of this dish other than eating it? Puncturing the golden soy-cured egg yolk and coating the grains of rice with its impeccable flavour. An ode to Thai flavour, the lamb chops are cooked impeccably and accented with satay sauce, nam prik chimichurri, peanuts and mint.
We rounded out our meal with Berries Cheesecake ($16) – a cheesecake mousse, mixed berry salad, sablé, Japanese shiso, strawberry sorbet and the Exotic Pavlova ($17) – a tapioca coconut pudding with white chocolate Chantilly, mango sorbet, passionfruit and pineapple. While both desserts were satisfying, they weren’t necessarily memorable. True to the pan-Asian theme of the restaurant, the dessert menu includes a robust selection of teas, as well as coffees and digestifs.
The combination of exquisite cuisine, attentive service, and stunning atmosphere creates a dining experience that is truly unforgettable, and AP is the first restaurant in this space I feel heading in the right direction. While some dishes are notably better than others, AP has all the glamour that any patron would expect of a Yorkville establishment – as well as the price tag to match.
Mme M. xoxo
La rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.