Teara Lab is introducing Torontonians to a new take on fast casual: Japanese fusion burgers.
Across the street from the University of Toronto and a short walk from MaRS Discovery District, Teara Lab is perfectly situated at 181 College St. to attract hungry downtowners who are ready to experiment with new and innovative flavour combinations. But just what is a Japanese fusion burger?
That’s the question I was mulling over as I opened the door at Teara Lab and stepped into the recently renovated, newly opened space. I was greeted by a pair of smiling chefs in lab coats, and I knew instantly that I was in for a uniquely tasty experience.
First up was the teppanyaki teriyaki chicken burger. Teara Lab opts to use dark meat—the leg, rather than the more common breast—which is marinated for 12–24 hours in teriyaki sauce before being cooked to perfection and served on a bun with the garnishes you would expect … and then some. In addition to lettuce and tomatoes, this not-so-traditional burger boasts Havarti cheese, crispy onions, seaweed powder and wasabi mayo as toppings. Juicy meat, fresh veggies and a wonderfully spicy kick from the wasabi made the Lab’s chicken burger stand out as one of the best I’ve had in recent memory.
Next came the yuzu teriyaki fish burger, which won presentation points for its jet-black bun as soon as it was set down in front of me. Made with basa fish baked in Chef Frank Liu’s own yuzu teriyaki sauce, this burger comes with all of the above toppings and two types of mayo (wasabi and herb). Between scrumptious bites, I couldn’t help but inquire as to the curious bun shade. It turns out an earlier incarnation of the fish burger counted squid ink among its toppings, so the black bun was chosen to match the ink! The recipe change from squid ink to herb mayo is just one example of Liu’s commitment to constantly experimenting with Western-and Asian-inspired flavours in his quest to put together a menu of epic fusion burgers.
After washing down my burgers and their accompanying fries with Hokkaido milk tea and a matcha red bean slushy drink, I walked (read: rolled) home with a much-appreciated takeout bag (holding the pork belly sandwich featuring kimchi and avocado) and a satisfied grin. Japanese fusion burgers—who knew!
Staff: Amanda Plyley
Five years in Asia broadened Amanda’s horizons—and those of her tastebuds. From eating kimchi for breakfast to grabbing a midnight snack at Beijing’s night market, she’s always open to trying new foods. These days, you’ll often find her slurping ramen with her nose in a book somewhere in Toronto.
181 College St., Toronto | 647-351-6680 | tearalab.com
OPEN: Mon–Fri 11 am–9:30 pm • Sat 11 am–6:30 pm • Sun closed