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May 17, 2012 01:32 PM

Origin: restaurant review - Cool vibe, tasty food but schizophrenic menu

I had been meaning to dine here for a long time as the chef is quite reputable. As such I had high expectations for the food. This is a tapas style restaurant where you are recommended to order about 8 dished to split between 2 people. While every dish on its own was rather tasty, the menu itself to me seemed schizophrenic. The food selections are largely Asian fusion but with the arrival mozzarella bars all over the city and oh-so trendy raw food, these elements seemed to have been added to the menu after the fact creating what can only be described as a somewhat inconsistent dinning experience. I am all for variety but jumping from Asian to Italian and back to Asian is a bit off putting. I would recommend to the wait staff that they bring out the food in the order in which it is best served i.e. bring me the raw food first, followed by something from the mozzarella bar, then the Asian fusion dishes. To me this would help a lot in creating a more pleasurable dining experience.

That being said, the food is delicious. I highly recommend the following:
• Bufala mozzarella + pear + rosemary oil + pine nuts + honey (I would actually order this as a dessert)
• Bufala mozzarella + confit tomato + basil + preserved lemon
• Japanese style tuna salad + Asian pear + avocado + spicy ponzu dressing
• Bangkok beef salad + peanut + mint + mango + fried shallot + nam jim dressing.

A note on the service: in a word it was terrific. The hostess was welcoming, our server was attentive and helpful in helping us choose from the menu.

On last thing: this restaurant did remind me very much of Kultura located right next door - both in respect to the atmosphere and the menu. Both places have that old historic building/modern décor and both have tapas style menus heavily influenced by Asian fusion cuisine. I would say choose Origin if what you are looking for is more of fun night out with a bit more of a bar atmosphere and choose Kultura if you are on a date as it’s a bit more quiet and the mod more romantic.

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  1. Kultura is NOT "right next door". It is a block away, east of Jarvis Street.

    1 Reply
    1. re: CarNut

      For the purposes of this review is it really so wrong to refer to it as a neighbouring resto? They are close to each other!

    2. The whole concept behind Origin's menu is sampling from all over the world, so it's not schizophrenic, it's deliberate.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TorontoJo

        The chef mentioned in some article that the name Origin referred to his background working in various types of restaurants, asian, italian, latin american etc.. So that all over the world is very much deliberate. Others have made this criticism, I think it was Pataki, that there was a problem with having so many different styles. I still don't get that, after all you did the ordering. If fish and cheese don't go together, then don't order them. If you weren't aware that the dishes would come out as they were ready, which seems to be the case with all our tapas bars, then that's a different story.