rain is located in the heart of the entertainment district in downtown Toronto. This vibrant and modern restaurant was once the site of Toronto’s first women’s prison. It no longer holds prisoners but the food and décor is unmistakably captivating. Guy Rubino, the executive chef, treats each dish as a blank canvas and artfully creates mouthwatering Asian cuisine.
In a city where everyone’s always moving on to the next best thing, no one can get over Rain. The celebrities can’t, and our readers can’t either. And now that the fickle heat has moved on to newer and shinier (if you can imagine) venues, the Rain concept is showing it’s true strength as not just a slick space, but a quality food emporium.
To keep the beautiful people coming back, the dining room still remains still as good-looking as its patrons. And Keith Rushbrook, Dan Menchions and Jenny Lee of Toronto’s II By IV design firm, had that in mind all along. The transformation of this former prison for women into a spot so slick, it was meant to keep you coming back, even after it’s newness has worn off.
Inspired by the palette and textures of Southeast Asia the lounge remains true its namesake metaphor; two 15-foot waterfalls cascade down one wall, owning the space, while a partition of frosted glass, with a window cavity, separates the dining from the lounge space. Low tables behind a barricade of giant bamboo or share the illuminated communal table for 20. The charcoal grey concave barstools have seats of molded foam. On the left is the circular entrance to the unisex washroom area.
Frontmen Michael and Guy Rubino’s much-lauded dishes haven’t slipped a notch. The offered 13 dishes ($9–$25) and five sides ($5–$8) are meant for sharing. A dish of marinated grilled tofu with grilled mushroom plays middleman to the complex textures of sweet Japanese eggplant, zesty greens, all seasoned with soy and light grill char.
Miso-marinated cod, grilled perfectly, is set on a smooth black stone and surrounded with Japanese salad of tatsoi greens and daikon sprouts; Roast tandoori duck breast with a honey-sweetened sauce. Deep-fried plump shrimp in tempura batter cloaked in shiso leaves on wooden rods with a salad of nori, the sauce a yuzu ponzu in a wooden box for dipping.
Creative desserts are heavy on the chocolate theme: a layered array of gingersnap, chocolate ganache and cashews topped with a fat lychee; bananas coated with soya noodles and dark chocolate is sweetly bitter.
After devouring all of this, the month you waited for a reservation seems truly fitting.
Water streaming down smooth slate and bubbling over river rock echoes the name. Technolounge tunes and a minimalist setting of black and white decor, geometric shapes and chrome tables attract a chic clientele. Pan-Asian menu includes fire-roasted Japanese sirloin, salmon teriyaki and Peking Muscovy duck. Tues.-Sat. Entrees: $9-$30.