To conclude our short excursion to Toronto we present an incredible restaurant that was hiding in plain sight, Cà Phê Rang. We would have never even knew it was there were it not for the investigative efforts of our friend, Lina Tran.
One would think that as food bloggers we would have known that Chefs Rang Nguyen and Matty Matheson opened a restaurant together. We did not. Yet, that fact is a large part of its charm. It is purposely hidden. Even the exterior with its yellow, green, and blue signage blends in perfectly with Spadina looking like any other traditional mom and pop Vietnamese restaurant.
The interior is verdantly lush with rubber plants, and a framed picture of an androgynous Vietnamese pop star—basically your stereotypical grandma’s living room.
The scene sets the stage for a meal that grandma would have made, with some minor tweaks—but those minor tweaks make all the difference. By way of example the Prawn Roll is a traditional fresh roll only with beautiful pink prawns in lieu of the standard U10s, and a praline peanut sauce with caramelized sugars will make any other peanut sauce cow in envy.
The bánh mì strayed into the dry side, but with a bowl of phô dip quickly rectified any complaints. However, be warned that the spicy version transforms simple da chua into an ass-searing Medieval torture device for the entire oral cavity, and remaining digestive tract. This is coming from a person who actually enjoys very spicy foods.
I have purposively saved the best for last, and will now issue a statement that will forever challenge my status as a true Buffalonean:
Cà Phê Rang serves the best chicken wings.
Let us let the impact of this die down for a second…
…please indulge us.
Ten wings, all flats are neatly stacked into a prism, served with a lime, cut properly. The wings are fried to a golden crisp, and covered in what I believe to be a sweetened fish sauce (pure umami by any other name).
This beautiful stack of sticky, crispy wings are served with an undefined creamy concoction (maybe mayo-definitely not ranch) covered in a chili oil that was made so fresh you can still taste the wok smoke. Pair that with a Tiger Beer Tall-Boy on a hot day, and I dare say you will never find a better chicken wing.
I have said my peace. Try it for yourself, and let us know.