Michelin chefs pick Toronto’s best new restaurants: Anna Chen, Alma

Toronto’s dining scene has been a whirlwind of dynamic, diverse and eclectic this year, as evidenced by our curated list of the 12 best new restaurants. We believe in getting the real scoop from insiders, which is why we tapped into the city’s culinary elite, from Michelin stars to celebrity chefs, to bring you their top picks.

We start with Anna Chen, owner-chef of Alma, a Bib Gourmand recipient praised by the Michelin Guide for its dazzling presence in Bloordale Village. We asked her to share her thoughts on the best new addition to the city’s dining scene. Keep reading to discover her exciting selection.

Chef Chen’s pick: Som Tum Jinda

“Som Tum Jinda is my top favourite restaurant that has opened in the last 18 months. If it was closer to the west end, I would order it at least once a week” says Chen. And when it comes to her favourite dishes, there are plenty to choose from!  “I love the Tum Puu Nam Pla  —green papaya and salted crab salad. If you are into spicy food and can handle the heat, they can really dial up the spice level on this. It has a great balance of sweet, spicy and sour notes. My other favourites are the Kor Moo Yang — grilled pork jowl and Khoo Noew Mamuag — mango coconut sticky rice with sesame seed. Som tum Jinda is also extremely affordable. You can totally get a delicious meal under $50, and you wont be leaving hungry.”

Som Tum Jinda

An array of Thai dishes from Toronto restaurant Som Tum Jinda.

This Allan Gardens basement is one of Toronto’s best new restaurants. Far from the watered-down Momofuku iterations still hawking ramen to tourists, Som Tum Jinda feels like the real thing. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re not in Laos anymore. Gerrard Street East vibrates with Som Tum Tod ($16, fried papaya salad) spicybenough to cloud your eyes against all the local cannabis dispensaries. Som Tum Jinda, which earned a Michelin recommendation in Thailand, is a result of familial connections. Wassawan Chansopa, the scion of a famous Thai and Cambodian cooking family, came to Toronto to attend George Brown, stayed and then things got spicy. Chansopa is 26 and his place looks it — slapdash, corny, inventive — and his duck, fried wings and inventive Thai finger food will make you wonder what else in life you missed, all those years wasting time ordering pad Thai at all those other restaurants.You’re more likely to order Som Tum Jinda through Uber Eats than to experience its tom zab ($14, pork rib, lemon grass soup) in the eclectic Gerrard East basement —but either way, it’s a win. 76 Gerrard St. E. Fun Fact: Som Tum Jinda features nine variations on the traditional papaya salad.

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