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Best of Fall 2012: How GwaiLo, Nick Liu’s soon-to-open Parkdale restaurant, just might rehabilitate Asian-fusion

Best of Fall 2012: Gwailo

In a dining scene rife with duck confit banh mi, peameal bulgogi and brisket steamed buns, the F-word crops up a lot. But you won’t hear Nick Liu use it. His new Asian brasserie, he insists, isn’t fusion. It’s Canadian. Which is why he chose to call it GwaiLo, the Cantonese slang for foreigners like himself—that is, a Markham-raised Chinese-Canadian who learned to make shumai from his grandmother, but also mastered rustic Italian food in Tuscany and French techniques at Splendido and Scaramouche. This gastronomic promiscuity led to the eclectic menus at Niagara Street Café, where, as chef from 2008 to 2012, Liu invented such brazenly hybrid dishes as Japanese bolognese: basil-flecked soba noodles, beef tataki, tomato water, Parmesan oil and truffle pearls. By the time he left to plan a restaurant of his own, he’d earned a reputation as a chef who pushed culinary creativity. The bolognese will be back at GwaiLo, as will his signature General Tso’s sweetbreads, which have been copied on menus all over town. But the most exciting plates are new: sweet-and-sour pork terrine with jellyfish slaw, and whole-fried trout with caramel-soy glaze and sweet Thai chili sauce. While Liu might not be comfortable dropping the F-bomb, we are: this is fusion at its irreverent, boundary-defying best.

Open November
Location TBA

(Image: Jess Baumung)

  • foodfan

    Enough about this clown! Hasn’t this restaurant been “opening” for over a year? Does he even have a space?! Give it up, get a job! No one cares!

  • Bobthedog

    Stop the hating!. I have been eating nicks food for years and know that he can walk the walk . Real estate is the wild card in the T.O. restaurant scene, so give Nick a chance to get a solid lease and add to our cities culinary bounty.

  • Betina

    I care!

    You obviously have some kind of axe to grind foodfan?

    What makes him a clown?

    Nick is a fantastic, ambitious Chef… I heard that he has been looking for the perfect location for around a year and I, for one, look forward to trying his new menu.

  • KirRoyale

    Perhaps it’s not really hatred…I think foodfan finds it interesting that someone can find the real estate, do the reno and open a RESTAURANT by NOVEMBER….we all know how long it takes for that to happen!

  • eatsfood

    Maybe he is a clown, and you just dont know it yet.
    GwaiLo is a racial term to describe the “white man” afteral. But then again, im sure all you defending this guy already knew that.

  • danielle

    Sorry, but racist insults against white people just don’t have the same weight or power as the other way around. And I’m white. So chill out. And sober up.

  • bloop blop

    Hey Danielle, I’ll tell you what doesn’t hold any weight..its your argument! racism is racism and just cause you’re white doesn’t make it ok. Look up the history of that term. Its derogatory! point final! thats it!.. you cant justify it’s racism by comparing it to “the other way around” and saying that it’s not as bad as what white people supposedly call Asian people….nipper or chink! how is that worse than gwailo please answer that? and please define those two terms for me. If i named a restaurant chink believe you me i would not hear the end of it. Whats worse is that its not even in English so it makes it more cowardly.. hey Nick! why don’t you call it “round eye” in English you douche bag!

  • gingerz

    You sensitive little flowers!

    I couldn’t give a monkey’s if Nick ar anyone else called me Gwailo or Round Eye and I’m whiter than white can be.

    Goodness me, surely there are better things to get your knickers in a twist over?

  • matt

    I really think Toronto life should get rid of the comment section and this thread is a perfect example. Some of the language used is terrible.

    Toronto Life.. Get rid of it!

  • Lazy Boy

    Blondin again?

  • danielle

    My comment was in response to a CAPS-FILLED, crazy-sounding and likely booze-fuelled comment that’s since been removed. But I’d venture to guess “bloop blop” – whose comment is also likely to be removed thanks to its offensive language – is the same person. I still stand by my supposedly weightless argument.

  • gingerz

    Where was the bad language?

    Did I miss something?

    Was it my use of the word knickers?

  • White Devil

    Man, do I ever miss “Gwai Lo Cooking” on CFMT-TV. That “white” chef was THE BOMB!

  • Betina

    Went to the GwaiLo Pop Up at The SoHo Metropolitan and it was DEEEEEEElicious!