#FOOD: SHAN SHAN CAFE | LA PETITE COLLINE
There are few places that can excite us enough to come out almost weekly during a Pandemic. And for us, Shan Shan Cafe, also known as La Petite Colline, was the one spot we couldn’t get enough of.
The elegant space which sadly couldn’t host indoor dining until only this past weekend as the province entered Phase III of its reopening, is now ready to be enjoyed. We were so thrilled to be invited for a private tasting of their Dine-In Menu, having devoured many of their takeaway items in recent months, namely their breads and incomparable Toast sandwiches.
The menu is the amalgamation of ideas from Pastry Chef and Bread Master Vivi Ju and also Chef Willett, both imports by way of Taiwan. Its offerings are what I’d peg as part of a new wave of Asian Cuisine fused with European flare. High-quality ingredients and innovative techniques are the philosophy behind Shan Shan Cafe/La Petite Colline, elevating several classics. You think you’d know all there is to know about Chinese bakery staple Pineapple Buns, until you’ve tried their take on it. And wait till you try it with Ice Cream, a limited time offering on their Summer Take Out menu.
Shan Shan translates in Chinese to “mountain” and such is the imagery behind the establishment’s branding. You literally are elevated to the great heights when you try their Nama Shokupan, a Japanese Milk Bread. Even someone accustomed to the most basic store-bought variety of white bread would know they are experiencing something truly unique and special when they try the loaf stamped with the “Shan Shan” logo.
Our server Leo tells us about the commitment its staff take to be the best. Bakers arrive around 5 AM daily for their 11:30 AM rush. In its initial opening, weekends saw hour+ long queues outside the shop. When it closes usually by 7 PM, most breads and bakery items are sold out completely. Hotter items like their delectable Garlic Cream Cheese Bread, often sell-out right at opening.
Service staff are attentive and exceptional from the servers and hosts to the individuals shuttling online orders out to customers in an orderly system. If you don’t know what to choose, chances are asking your server will garner you a recommendation you’ll love. Case in point, I always order their Housemade Iced Coffee which is better than anything I can make at home, and I have a fancy coffee maker. Wanting something new, Leo pointed me to their Iced Grapefruit Honey Soda, which beautifully captures all the notes of grapefruit we love – sweet, tart and bitter.
While the establishment isn’t particularly a large dining space, it is great in height, elegant, modern and understated. Its Robin’s Egg Blue and gold wall panels exude sophistication and class, as do its clean white and earthy tones.
Not to get you too excited, but Shan Shan Cafe/La Petite Colline‘s official Grand Opening takes place July 25-26, 2021. You will be thrilled to know that customers will benefit from 30% off everything. And it is recommended you order online in advance, scheduling a pick-up on their store site. Note, they are closed Tuesdays.
Here’s what we’ve tried and loved thus far:
Truffle Yam Fries – truffle oil, ketchup & garlic mayo. These fries boast an intense truffle flavour.
Chicken Lollipops – popular dine-in item. Frenched chicken wings, house mayo, lemon, mixed greens. Every bite is meaty and that mayo is incredible. Eat while hot.
Smoked Salmon Toast – a real showstopper and personal favourite. Smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, dill cream cheese, lettuce, house mayo. There are various options of this Sandwich and the Short Rib option also is great. A must-try.
Seafood Pesto – shrimp, calamari, scallop, pesto sauce, parmesan cheese, toasted bread, (contains nuts). A bit oily, but very flavourful and impactful.
Short Rib Omurice – another centerpiece item on the menu. Sous vide short ribs, fried rice-filled omelette, mushrooms, demi-glace, contains mushrooms. You might want to ask for the beef a little more rare if that’s your thing.
House Iced Coffee – we learned these coffee beans are from a Hamilton, Ontario supplier. There apparently are a combination of three different milks, creating a creamy magic storm. You can adjust ice level and sweetness.
Iced Grapefruit Honey Soda – bitter, sweet and sour. Perfectly captures the essence of grapefruit without an artificial syrup.
Iced Lychee Lime Soda – so flavourful, it tastes like a Cocktail almost. Love the grated lime zest which packs a punch.
Pineapple Bun – by using natural fermentation method, each bun has a unique texture and a richer taste. You must try this with Ice Cream!
Mentaiko Baguette – housemade mentaiko sauce with French baguette, crispy and chewy. Love the chew this bread has with a very unique texture and tons of umami flavour.
Garlic Cream Cheese Bread – a real showstopper which always sells-out. Crispy garlic bread filled with cream cheese. Will make you forget about bagels.
Nama Shokupan – outstanding loaf of bread. Texture is soft and moist, with a hint of milky flavour. You slice it yourself. In a class of its own.
Red Bean Custard Danish – little hits of custard paired with red bean bits. Taking ideas we are familiar with and making them magical.
Basque Burnt Cheesecake – cream cheese, whipping cream, free-run farm eggs, madagascar vanilla beans, maldon sea salt flakes on the side. A decadent treat.
Shan Shan Cafe | La Petite Colline is located at:
3355 Steeles Avenue East, Unit C 5 & 6,
Toronto, ON, Canada M2H 0A7
Learn more about them here.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)