East Meets West: Western Food with an Asian Flair (Markham) by Steph Chiu
Fusion restaurants have become very trendy in the restaurant scene lately, and it’s not hard to see why: the possibilities for a chef’s imagination are endless, and consumers are always looking for something new and innovative to try. That’s why I was excited to hear about a newly-opened fusion restaurant in Markham called Inspire Restaurant, located on Main Street Markham (just north of Highway 7).
Inspire Restaurant is the brainchild of two experienced local chefs (read more here). With their diverse backgrounds in different types of ethnic cuisine, it only seems natural that their own venture into the restaurant business would be fusion style. Inspire serves up Western with a distinct Asian flair from a mix of such cuisines as Korean, Indian, and Japanese, among others. This Asian influence is even reflected in their logo: the word “Inspire” contains a Chinese character within the “P” (which is also in the shape of a Japanese cherry blossom tree if I’m not mistaken). This character, 食, translates to “eat”.
So what can you expect to find on the menu? Think prime rib burgers with kimchi and pickled vegetables, butter chicken penne, and pulled pork fries. The menu changes once in a while, but you can view what’s currently available here.
I visited on a Sunday for lunch; it was early so there was only one other party besides ourselves. Seating is limited, so I would recommend reservations if you are visiting with a larger group or at dinner time. The decor is simple and modern with lots of wood architecture and black sofa seating.
On weekends a brunch menu is offered in addition to the normal lunch, but we decided to order off the lunch menu. Here is what we ordered:
Pulled Pork Waffle: Time-Honored Braised Pulled Pork + Apple Chutney + Fresh Homemade Waffles + Honey ($12) – This was absolutely delicious! The waffles were freshly-made (we could smell them as we were eagerly awaiting our food!) and tasted very light. I personally prefer waffles to be a bit on the crisper side, but these were more soft. The pulled pork had a slight kick to it but my favourite part was the sweet apple chutney. Combined with the drizzle of honey on top, the combination of flavours in this dish was an absolute delight. I would highly recommend this dish! The waffles can also be ordered with fried chicken, which I intend to try in the future.
Far East Burger: Grade Prime Beef Patty + Grilled Pineapple + Taro Root Shavings + Mango Mayo on a brioche bun with choice of fries or salad ($13) – I’m usually not a burger person, but I couldn’t resist this unique pairing of East and West flavours. The first thing I noticed was how perfectly toasted the bun was; I’m of the opinion that bread tastes best when toasted, so I loved that this bun was done right. The homemade beef patty (certified angus prime grade) was fresh and the grilled pineapple an excellent complement the sweet brioche bun. The mango mayo (requested on the side – also pictured is the honey vinaigrette salad dressing) was a welcome change from plain mayo with a hint of mango flavour in it. However, the taro root shavings were the star of the dish for me, adding a delicious crunch and subtle flavour that brought all the other flavours together nicely.
Lucky for me, Inspire is close to home, so you can be sure that I will be back to try more of their delicious food. If you’re looking for a unique take on fusion cuisine but don’t want to venture too far away from Western classics, I’d suggest you give Inspire a try. The setting is beautiful for a casual but sophisticated meal with friends, and the vibe is both humble and friendly. The waitress was friendly and happy to answer all my questions about the food. It is clear that food quality and the homemade aspect are very important to the chefs here, which was great to see. An added bonus is the beautiful plating of the food, like this deconstructed crème brûlée. It truly begs the question: food or art?
Sneak Peek: My next post will be about Savour York Region, a local foodie event where restaurants feature prix fixe lunch and/or dinner menus for patrons to get great food at amazing prices ($15-20 for lunch, $25-35 for dinner). This event runs until November 2nd so you have about a week left to take advantage of this excellent offer. A full list of participating restaurants and menus can be found here. (Most restaurants are in the Vaughan region, although others are in Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Newmarket, and Markham.)