The Dunlevy Snackbar is an ideal spot for an epicurean’s late-night snack. Sampling flavours from Japan, China, Korea and North and South America, its eclectic menu offers many unique choices. Walking inside, you immediately notice the tiny clipboard menus and laid-back atmosphere. A paper chandelier and uncovered light bulbs give the space a warm, dim glow. Our friendly, attentive server was eager to answer our questions about both the restaurant and the menu.
For CAD 70, we ordered one of everything on the menu, starting with a sampling of preserves. While the bowl was small, the flavours were huge: the selection included pickled carrots, spicy pumpkin seeds, pickled daikon and two types of kimchi (Korean pickled cabbage). The traditional red kimchi was chilled and refreshing at first, but had a heat to it that slowly crept up the tongue. In contrast, the white kimchi had a flavour not unlike sauerkraut, gently sour and pleasantly bitter. Unlike its red counterpart, white kimchi is a safe bet for those who are not up for spice. However, our favourite was the pickled daikon, which was crisp, piquant and sour but delicately sweet. We continued with black-bean inari pockets, roasted peanuts, and spicy yam and potato salad. The yam and potato salad was sweet, creamy and subtly spicy. It featured tender bits of chopped egg, crunchy pieces of kimchi and bright pops of cilantro.
Following the preserves, we had okonomiyaki, chicken tostadas, steamed buns and bibimbap. The okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake, was fluffy and light and filled with tender seafood. It was drizzled with savory sweet teriyaki sauce and rich, creamy mayonnaise and topped with a sprinkle of finely chopped green onion. Next we had three varieties of Chinese inspired steamed buns, offering bites of pork belly, Korean-style fried chicken and smoked tofu. The smoked tofu bun was our table’s favourite. Its filling was paired with an earthy cilantro salad and crunchy shredded potato that created a nice contrast against the sweet, fluffy steamed bun that surrounded the filling.
By the end of our meal our bellies were full, but we were not stuffed to the point of discomfort. We reclined and took in the ambient lighting, the quiet murmur of the other guests, and watched the cook prepare a fresh crêpe for our dessert. Stuffed with warm apples and drizzled in a dark caramel, it ended our meal on a more Euro-flavoured note. However, the Cointreau whipped cream sprinkled with candied ginger gave a nod to the Asian themes of the menu, bringing the meal full circle.