On Friday, Simon and I met up for a catch up over dinner at 416 Snack Bar, a hipster-esque bar serving tapas that appear to touch upon different cultures in our melting pot city. Hence the original and highly coveted 416 area code for Toronto. Also, the people behind 416 Snack Bar are also the same people behind People’s Eatery in Chinatown.
I know that when it comes to hipster bars, there are the stereotype of terrible service, and the “I don’t think you belong here” attitude. Even coming in wearing office attire, I should have felt out of place, but I can say that there was none of that at 416 Snack Bar. My brother texted me asking how this place was, I responded “Like Oddseoul“. He gets it.
There is a casual, laid-back vibe, a place to go for after dinner drinks and late night bites. It’s not a good place for the kind of first date where two people are in the process of getting to know one another as music is pumped loud through the speakers, resulting in a possible shouting match.
It’s quite a small space with seats by the bar, communal tables and some small tables for two. Be prepared to bump shoulders with your neighbours, especially siting at the communal tables. Even with limited seatings, it can get crowded on most nights. We came here on an early Thursday evening and got lucky with scoring a small table, but I once tried to go in on a Friday night and well, you know, I left not willing to wait.
Do also advise that there are no proper eating utensils at 416 Snack Bar. It’s all about using your hands eating those maximum 3 bites food.
Korean Fried Chicken ($5), Bite size pieces of chicken thighs covered in a sauce made with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and gochujang (Korean fermented chili paste) and topped with green onions and sesame seeds. So good. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, which is mainly contributed to the chicken being marinated overnight in buttermilk and then coated in a flour and cornstarch mix.
Pork Steamed Bun ($5), similar to the ones served at Momofuku, but more substantial. The pork belly is very succulent and flavourful from curing it in five-spice. Wrapped in a steamed milk bun and garnished with hoisin sauce, pickled daikon, carrots, celery, watercress and ginger. The picked vegetables helps cut through the fattiness of the pork belly. Definitely a favourite dish of the night. There is also a choice of fish steamed bun or or vegetable steamed bun.
Lastly, the Foie Torchon with Toast ($7). Comes with a quarter size foie gras (duck liver), and apple puree. The foie was rich and so good. Spread a bit of the foie on toast and add a little bit of the apple puree to tone down the saltiness of the foie. Everything is in moderation with this dish.
Overall, I really enjoyed 416 Snack Bar. We both liked the food, though my friend found that the loud atmosphere is not his thing (he much prefers quieter places). Do avoid coming in groups and in extreme hunger. While the food are moderately priced, don’t expect a full meal.
416 Snack Bar
181 Bathurst St