HAWKER BAR 164 Ossington, at Foxley, 647-343-4698, hawkerbar.ca.
Don't get Aussie chef Alec Martin started on authenticity. Seems there are anonymous authorities out there on th'interweb who claim the nouvelle Malaysian street food carte he serves at this no-reserve trat ain't the real deal. Go figure!
"I try to stay close to the original recipes, but I think I make them a bit friendlier," says Martin. "I've had people from Singapore tell me my food's better than their grandmother's back home."
Certainly, my nana could never come up with anything as intoxicating as Martin's exceptional whole-fried sea bream ($24). Chef also places an unusual emphasis on veggies.
"And it's not just the vegetarians who order them," says Martin. "I think everybody wants something that tastes good."
And so they come for soft-poached eggs with chili jam ($7) whose yolks detonate on contact, and deep-fried cubes of tofu dipped in salted chilies ($6). But it's his vegan interpretation of Laksa Lemak ($7 small/$10 medium/$13 large) that causes the most controversy, a particularly blistering coconut curry soup thick with slippery rice noodles, al dente snow peas and strips of ripe red pepper.
If this isn't inauthentic, we'll stick with the fake stuff.
Tuesday to Friday 11:45 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 2 am, Saturday and Sunday 11:45 am to 2 am, Monday 9 pm to 2 am. Closed some holidays. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms in basement.