Uptown Toronto city-dwellers have had their cravings for Asian cuisine fulfilled by a chic, contemporary restaurant on Yonge Street since its opening in 2007. Cravings restaurant offers high quality fusion dishes inspired by Japan, Thailand, and Vietnam in a setting that matches the upscale area it is situated in, with a bonus of top notch service.
Dark wood tables trace the long walls of the decent-sized space, matching the black walls with sunken coves for Japanese-styled artwork. Delicate chandeliers sparkle the way to the back, where a sushi chef minds his station.
The menu is extensive: divided between tapas, dim sum, soups and salads, wok, teriyaki, curry, noodles, rice dishes, sushi rolls, and specialty plates. Among appetizers like Vietnamese paper rolls and rainbow lettuce wraps, of particular note is the UFO ($10): spicy tuna balancing atop slices of sweet potato tempura, lightly crispy and depth in the flavours. Their hot and sour soup too ($5), Chinese-style with tofu, bamboo shoots, egg, and covered in black mushrooms, was more sweet than sour, but had depth to the broth that would keep me coming back for more.
Their spicy salmon sushi pizza was a hefty $11 and could have used a thinner layer of rice tempura, but the sweet sauce it was drizzled with made it worth it. Next time I will try the California sushi pizza, with slices of avocados spiking out between layers of fried rice patty.
The drink menu has a notable selection of red and white wine, beer, non-alcoholic beverages like limonade and San Pellegrino sodas, as well as martinis (of note, mangotini and lychee for $9 each) and bar mixes (from Canadian club to Tanqueray No. Ten gin).
For mains, Cravings had all my favourites: lightly breaded General Tao chicken, Szechuan style, doused in a sweet star anise sauce, and pad thai ($12), stir-fried rice noodles in tamarind fish sauce. Both were sweet, which is to my taste, and was served in large portions. The chicken required a steamed rice to be ordered on the side, but one order was easily enough for 2-3 people. Their sushi rolls are what stole the show: their gold dragon roll ($13) was fresh tempura-battered shrimp, cucumber, and caviar with a yin and yang of sliced salmon and avocado decorating the top. The fire and ice roll ($12) had contrasting layers of crunchy and smooth texture and sweet and spicy flavor from the filling that is topped with a thick drizzle of spicy mayo. It features tempura shrimp, crab meat, caviar, chili pepper, and grilled snappe.
For dessert, I can never say no to green tea ice cream ($6) (although they also had taro and coconut flavours to choose from) – which they served in two large scoops topped with a giant strawberry.
It might not be the best Asian fusion restaurant in the entire city, but it tops the charts for midtown/uptown Asian cuisine. The service was phenomenal (maybe even too good – I couldn't have a sip of water without it being refilled) and the décor is classy, which is reflected in the prices being much higher than some of its downtown competitors. However, it's the kind of restaurant you can count on to fulfill your expectations and please a large group of people with varying palates. And when you have cravings you need to satisfy – you'll want to pick a restaurant you know you can count on.