Chat Bar is a Chinese barbecue spot specializing in skewered up eats and skewer hot pot.
The first restaurant in the city to focus solely on this traditionally northern Chinese street food to Toronto, Chat Bar already has locations in Scarborough and Unionville.
This bustling two-floor location is the flagship spot. It’s three times the size of the other locations, but the first level is usually packed by dinnertime, with guests spilling upward as the night goes on.
Barbecued skewer culture, or chuan’r (pronounced ‘chwar’), is synonymous with social drinking culture in China, so there’s a bar-like vibe here, supplemented by the sounds of Chinese rap and the smell of cumin in the air.
Through the kitchen window, you can watch the nonstop flipping of skewers overtop charcoal flames.
The menu offers 60 different types of meats, seafood, and veggies to choose from. The server will stack your orders on a small heated plate with candles underneath.
A must-order are the Fanny Bay oysters (6 for $20.95), sourced from Scarborough’s Diana’s Seafood.
The signature garlic mixture that goes on top, which is made in-house, is ridiculously addictive.
That same garlic sauce goes on the scallops (5 for $19.95), which are hidden underneath a pile of rice noodles.
Lamb skewers (4 for $6.95) come from New Zealand and are marinated overnight with an incredibly tasty secret recipe of over 30 ingredients.
There are tons of adventurous bites, like beef heart artery or intestines-wrapped garlic, mixed with more common items like chicken wings for less adventurous palates. They usually all come with four piece per order.
Master Han’s rice cakes ($4.99) are a pretty reliable crowd pleaser.
You also can’t go wrong with a plate of gooey cheese and corn for $6.95.
Another way to eat your skewers is in a cauldron-sized pot of boiling chicken and pork bone soup ($20.95), which includes five items from a list.
The beef, cuttlefish, and fish balls are probably the best way to go here, though the veggie options like seaweed and lotus root are tasty as well.
Finish it off with something sweet, like skewered pineapple or banana slices.