chop . ca tutelage over chef Dann . Osso buco on tagliatelle noodles delivers fall off the bone tender beef ribs in mushroom laced jus . Crème fraîche cuts the unctuous dish with a refreshing creamy sour finish .
Generosity is notable at Little Nana ’ s . The problem with Italian food is you are hungry again two days later , states the bill at the end of the meal . Despite the leftovers you will undoubtedly take home , don ’ t pass on a sweet ending . A satisfying espresso and a crisp cannoli proves that when it comes to rustic Italian fare , there ’ s no need to mess with perfection .
MEAL SET BISTRO Neighbourhood .. River Heights Address ....... 612 Academy Rd . Phone ........... 204-414-8088 Entrées ..................... $ 4- $ 29
The history of food is a series of adaptations ; while some concepts prompt the term “ fusion food ,” in a sense , all cuisine is a fusion of culture , place , and a chef ’ s personal creativity .
At Meal Set Bistro , the new entry into Academy Road ’ s dining scene that opened late last year , these elements converge in chef Ken Nguyen ’ s kitchen , and arrive at the table in the form of some of the most exciting food we ’ ve eaten this year .
Not all Asian-Canadian chefs want to work exclusively with Asian flavours , and when they do they don ’ t always want to do it in expected ways . Nguyen ’ s free spirited approach is common among second and third generation Canadian cooks , who draw inspiration from their parents ’ countries of origin while shaping their own narrative . Find Korean spicy chili , cilantro sauce , chimichurri , ginger juice and fruit salsas layered into sushi and salad here .
The mod space with sushi bar vibes — vacated when Fusion Experience moved downtown — serves both as commissary for food delivery business Meal Set Go and as a 24-seat dining room . Charcoal painted walls , red accents and one statement art piece appoint the simple space .
The menu is a genre-bending culinary journey through modern Japanese fusion food , accented with nods to Nguyen ’ s Chinese and Vietnamese heritage . The compact selection is relatively easy to navigate , categorizing shareable dishes as tapas , sushi rolls , yakitori , baos , sushi donuts , sashimi and tempura .
A rotating list of seasonal features is equally tempting . Visually stunning mini “ mamba ” sliders start the edible art tour . A dramatic black bun made with activated charcoal carries a stack of Kobe beef patty , pancetta , quail egg , guacamole , onion ring and red cabbage laced with spicy aioli . Each bite delivers exciting textural contrast , from the super crunch of onion ring to the gooey yolk saucing the meat .
Seafood risotto is another winner . Shiitake and oyster mushrooms perfume a silky cream sauce while prawns , scallops and half a lobster tail offer subtle ocean brininess . The rich dish is topped with shaved Parmesan , pea shoots , black caviar and a few gold flakes - just in case any “ seen it all ” diners need a little extra schmoozing .
Iterations of spicy mango prawns ( with a medley of veggies in a martini glass ), tartare ( stacked with veggies and micro greens parfait style in a jar ) and imaginative sushi rolls ( eyepopping with colourful fish and garnished playfully ) reflect unbridled artistic flair .
Chef Ken ’ s funhouse of flavours is a testament to the arbitrariness of culinary classification . Defining Meal Set Bistro ’ s Asian fusion cuisine may be a fool ’ s task , but eating it is a pure delight .