Exotic Flavours + Perfect Execution + LOBSTER MASHED POTATOES = Toben Food by Design

One of the most important parts of enjoying a wedding, work function—or, let’s be real, ANY event—is the food. Work functions with the same pasta salad (sidenote: how does every catering company seem to make the same gross pasta salad?) seem to be never-ending, and catering fare doesn’t usually excite.

When we went to Twisted – Pop Up Restaurant hosted by 2nd Floor Events and catered by Chef Toben Kochman of Toben Food by Design, we were expecting the traditional catering fare with maybe a slider or two (if we were lucky). What Chef Toben explained, though, is that he and his chefs have travelled the world looking to be inspired by food, and the international flavour and careful attention to the eating experience was clear from the very first bite.

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My first bite happened to be a little pillow of deep fried Cantonese mushroom rice, which was perfectly seasoned and crisp. The incredibly friendly wait staff circled with tuna tartare in a crispy cone, setting the stage for an international dinner that had the best of all worlds.

The amuse bouche was jerk-seared ahi tuna, where the nutmeg really brought out the savoury elements of the tuna. The accompanying plantain chip was a nice little touch of Caribbean flavour.

The first course, called “Tastes of Heirloom Tomato” was wonderful—but it wasn’t the tomatoes that made it so. If you haven’t ever had mango kimchee, run (don’t walk) to WHEREVER you can to get your hands on some. It was the perfect blend of salty, sweet, and hot, and the ripe mango texture held up. The mango kimchee alone could be the focal point of a dish.

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The menu mentioned “lobster mash,” and Siobhan and I sat down with fingers crossed that the dish was as good as we imagined. Spoiler alert: it was! Crispy, tender lime-leaf sesame fried chicken was placed on top of hearty mashed potatoes with perfectly tender nuggets of lobster, all with a Khao Soy curry sauce that was both subtle and powerful.

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The beef short rib, which happens to be one of our favourite foods, was also perfectly tender. The beef short rib sat atop a bibimpap dumpling with a fried egg on the side. It’s evident with every bite that Torben and his team really think about the composition of an entire plate, and take risks that really pay off. Each element complemented the other, and only added—never overpowered. Mixing and matching flavours and textures in each bite made for a delightful experience.

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The dessert trio was a little bit of a let down. The desserts were a little ambitious and competed with each other, while none was quite right.

Thanks to the genius of Chef Toben and his team, the food was unique and daring, but accessible at the same time. The flavours blended together in perfect harmony. Thanks to Twisted – Pop Up Restaurant, you can also experience Toben’s new delicious street style menu. With seatings left on August 12 and 13 – tickets sell for $45 each and will take you through a culinary adventure.

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