When I found out that the owners of Kupfert and Kim (review here) were opening another vegan restaurant under the name “Hello 123”, I decided to go check it out as close to the opening as possible. Hello 123, located just east of the Drake Hotel on Queen Street West has just opened, and I hope it remains there for a long time to come. Unlike K&K, which is a fast-food-style restaurant, Hello 123 features a full sit-down menu and a bar.
The space is on the corner of Queen Street West and occupies a space that used to be a variety store. Both of the street-facing sides of the restaurant have big windows that open, making it the perfect place for a warm summer night (or fall, as it happened to be…). Inside, it is a cool space with lots of wood, and exposed brick walls toward the back of the seating area, with a small open kitchen. The bar dominates the front of the space, with expansive drink choices lined up on shelves behind the counter. They even have kombucha on tap (something a LOT of places are starting to do nowadays!), which I LOVE! My mom and I decided to sit at a couple of bar stools facing Queen Street, in front of an open window, and we ordered fairly quickly.
To start, we got the 123 Loaded Sweet Potato (which included chimichurri, cashew cream, scallions, radish, arugula, coconut, and chili sin carne), which was very large and had a perfect flavour combination between the crisp, cool arugula and warm, savoury chili. We also enjoyed the Tempeh and Tomatillo (with their “house rub” and salsa verde), which was pieces of tempeh on little sticks (something I found very cute) with their sweet salsa verde – the leftover dip went great on the sweet potato! If you don’t like tempeh, or have never tried it, I wouldn’t order this starter, it has a very unique taste and texture that you have to be prepared for! For our main courses, my mom ordered the Spicy Bap (a bi bim bap bowl with brown rice, tofu, mushroom, kale, eggplant, carrot, kimchi, mung bean sprouts, and spicy gochujang sauce), which she enjoyed, while I opted for the obvious choice – the Smashed Avocado Burger, partly because it had avocado in the name, and partly because I LOVE a good burger! The salsa verde made another appearance on this dish, and it went REALLY well with the avocado!
Next time I go, I definitely want to try the Lettuce Wrap Paleo Party, which is a “make-your-own lettuce wrap” (I assume that means all of the ingredients are brought to your table and you assemble it yourself) with hemp and sunflower balls, cauliflower hummus, za’atar salsa, cucumber salad, roasted eggplant, rutabaga mash, carrots, chimichurri, tahini, and, according to the menu, fun.
Hello 123 is a great place to go if you are vegan or looking for smaller plant-based dishes, but would not be somewhere as friendly and tempting to meat-eaters as some other places in Toronto. I will definitely be back soon and really look forward to making my lettuce wrap!