From some of Toronto’s top chefs comes Canada’s first “chef-driven community market”. All in one building, Assembly features seventeen different small “booths”, set up in a food court-esque fashion, each showcasing a different type of cuisine. There is something here for everyone no matter how you eat or what you are craving; you’ll find plenty of organic, vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, meat, seafood, and even desserts!
Upon walking into Assembly at 111 Richmond Street, I was struck by the relaxed vibe of the place. Most food courts give off an aura of rushed food and bright lights with very little care put in. Assembly’s modern decor, great music, and lots of smiling people gave off an impression that the food I was about to eat had been prepared with care by people who care.
It took a while for me to decide what to get – as per usual – so I decided to try a few dishes (also as per usual :). I started with a vegetarian mezze board from Reyna, a Lebanese-inspired cocktail and snack bar with a main location in Yorkville. The platter was beautiful, and included olives, roasted peppers, labaneh with zaatar, ricotta cheese with honey, babaghanoush, manchego cheese, and more assorted veggies, with pita, breadsticks, and bread. This reusable wood board looked like art and was shared by my family, and there were no complaints while we all sampled our favourites from the delicious spread! We also ordered the vegan Reyna Salad, which included a ton of veggies topped with a tahini dressing – they even made it with special care for my sister’s nut allergy! My mother and sister raved about the flavours, and I really enjoyed it even though a few of the vegetables would no normally be things I would like, which shows again that it’s worth trying everything at least once!
For my first main course (yes, there was more than one), I decided to get the honey kimchi chicken from Mira Mira, which is a catering company with a commitment to using good food. Now, I don’t normally like kimchi, but this organic chicken was grilled to perfection, and I LOVED the flavour combination – it is something I definitely recommend! On the side, there was a huge kale salad with nutritional yeast – always a delicious staple in my diet and I loved every forkful! Also from Mira Mira, my mom got their BBQ Okra plate, which came with shishito peppers (one of my favourite tapas dishes), a purple cabbage slaw, roasted cauliflower with their housemade queso that my mom loved – all vegan and very creative and unique! Mira Mira caters to both meat-eaters and vegetarians happily! Plus, they offer Vam’s kombucha and Elxr organic cold-pressed juices.
While my mom and I explored new menus and foods, my brother and sister and cousin explored a classic and family favourite – Hibiscus Cafe‘s crepes (see my review of their Kensington Market location here). Their buckwheat crepes are vegan, organic and gluten-free! This small plant-based cafe also has incredibly amazing homemade vegan ice cream made with organic ingredients – you won’t believe that my favourite flavour is the mocha which is mung bean based!! My dad also got a squash and ginger soup from them, which he loved and noted how it warmed him right up!
My little brother, being the bottomless pit he is, also tried a DOP margherita pizza from The Good Son (my original review of their restaurant can be found here), and although it was a little bit salty for my personal taste, he loved it and ate it all, even after having a crepe from Hibiscus!
After finishing my vegetable platter, sampling everyone else’s selections and my large plate of kimchi chicken and kale salad, I decided to try a dish at the other end of the spectrum – a ramen bowl. This bowl from Ramen Isshin contained vegan noodles, vegetable broth, tofu, miso, and green onion – I ordered chili oil on the side, but dumped it all in right away it was great! The spice from the chili oil mingled with the hot broth and noodles to create a palate sensation unlike any ramen I’ve had before!
For dessert, as mentioned before, we enjoyed Hibiscus Cafe’s vegan ice cream – my mom and I got mocha, while my brother got a double-scoop of two flavours that would not normally go together, but weird combinations run in our family!
I can’t wait to go back to Assembly soon to try the new menu items that roll out as the space progresses, including tasting items from nutbar, which was already closed when we were there (my review of their space on Yonge Street is here)!
Assembly is a great place to bring friends, family, and colleagues for a relaxed meal prepared by great people who care in an awesome atmosphere! The tables are beautiful whether you are on your own, part of a small group or a larger one, the space is very clean and the food is varied to make everyone happy – so go and explore and enjoy new foods in this vibrant space.