Like the regional language, Patois is a mixture of Asian and Caribbean cuisines into one. Fusion? Yes. But keep in mind that there is a large existing Chinese-Jamaican community whom have already been doing this fusion thing long before the internet was created. I love jerk chicken and I love Chinese food by default, so it was about time a restaurant like Patois opened in the city.
The menu at Patois pays homage to the chef/owner Craig Wong’s Chinese-Jamaican heritage, but I did find that it didn’t just stuck to Caribbean and Chinese flavours. There were flavours of kimchi and Thai basil, to fried chicken done Portuguese style. There were also dipping sauce featuring CPlus, the orange soft drink — not a typical ingredient you’d think would be used in such fashion, but more on that later.
I came here with my friend, Kenny on a Thursday evening and despite not making reservations, we did not have any difficulty getting a table within minutes of walking in. It was busy, but eventually died down as the evening wore on. The vibe is fun, relaxed and even though there’s the slight hipster-ness going on, the music isn’t blasting at 200 decibels.
Most dishes are family-style, meant to be shared but some are a la carte. You can also do “The Whole Shebang” for $99.99 which gets you the entire menu and serves about 3-4 people.
Top: Bay Scallop and Shrimp Balls with CPlus and red vinegar gastrique ($7.50 each). Our lovely server told us a story that inspired Chef Wong’s use of CPlus — as a child, he was not allowed to have soft drinks at home but was allowed to have a CPlus at weddings or large family banquets. No doubt that most Asian kids can relate, although my parents did allow soft drinks. The scallop and shrimp balls were breaded and deep fried, similar to the fried shrimp balls one finds in dimsum. The gastrique however had a slightly sweet flavour and the acidity helped cut the deep fried-ness.
Bottom: Crunchy Chinese Salad ($9) with napa cabbage, romaine lettuce, wonton crisps in a spicy plum dressing. Hello texture! It was pretty refreshing with a balance of spicy and a bit of tang.
Dirty Fried Rice ($11) with Chinese sausage, sweet soya sauce, Cajun Trinity, peas and farm egg. Looking at it, it’s like your average fried rice but different with the Cajun spice. I liked it, but I can’t say it’s worth getting.
Jerk Pork Belly ($14) with garlic and scotch bonnet sauce on the side. Pork belly plus spicy crispy pork crackling. OMG yes. What a succulent dish, but I do wish there was more jerk in the pork belly. I. Want. More. Jerk.
Fresh “Jelly” Coconut drink ($8). No alcohol in this, but for the price, I should have had a cocktail or something. With Chinatown a short distance away, a coconut drink like this would cost a fraction of the price. Nonetheless, it was refreshing and the bonus is that you are given a spoon to scrape out the coconut meat, and there were a ton of it.
For dessert, Sorrel Pink Lemonade Sorbet ($7). The server warned that it’s tart. I can handle sour as long as I know it’s going to be sour or it’s expected to be sour. This was so damn tart, the strawberries couldn’t save it with its sweetness. Mind you, it was fun to eat but I made a face at every bite.
Overall, I really liked Patois. I could pass on some dishes and some I would eat again. I heard that their fried chicken is really good, which is something I’d definitely try on a revisit. I’m still recovering from Korean fried chicken.
794 Dundas St. W