Walking along College Street you’d never know one of Toronto’s buzzy new restaurants is but a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of Little Italy. Pinky’s Ca Phe, a Vietnamese inspired snack bar located in an old house on Clinton Street, forces first time visitors to do a double take as they arrive at the front door. Staring down at Google Maps my cousin chirps “ya this must be it,” so we unlatch the front gate (likely put up by the previous homeowners to keep their dogs from running away), and step into a magical space.
The narrow little house has a seriously cool vibe which screams “perfect place for date night.” Sitting in the petite dining room you can tell you’re sitting in what was once a family’s living room, while the choir of stools at the front of the restaurant were once a humble sunroom. The tiny open kitchen sits tucked behind the restaurants vintage 70’s inspired bar featuring kitchy-decor including glittering streamers, G.I. Joe magazines, glowing Chinese lanterns, a garden of potted plants, neon signs, and portraits of moped drivers zipping throuhg the busy streets of Saigon.
Owner/chef Leemo Han, the restaurateur who brought Toronto Hanmoto and Seoul Shakers, has created a short but sweet menu which offers a creative take on popular finger foods full of fresh Southeast Asian flavours.
Highlights from Han’s playful menu include coconut cream tossed Tiger’s Milk Ceviche with taro chips, Beef Dip doused in fragrant pho, smirk-worthy Spring Chicken (a spin on pork stuffed spring rolls wrapped in fried chicken skin), pickle topped Banh Mi, and spicy Mushroom Vermicelli.
Tiger’s Milk Ceviche
Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi
Pho Beef Dip-You-Dip-I-Dip