I have this one friend who constantly nags me for filling my stomach with snacks and desserts instead of actual food? And while I admit that I do have a tendency to opt for Mango Snow Ice from Cha Me. Cha instead of his preferred choice of Spare Ribs on Rice (really, I just can't be bothered to work my way around bones for sustenance) for lunch, it's not as if I never adhere to a regular eating routine. In my defense, I just happen to intentionally leave room after meals to allow for a larger sweets intake afterwards.
Likewise, this was the case with Roselle.
No more than four tables were situated for dining purposes; a L-shaped cashier area and brick-formed an industrial kitchen at the back of the tiny space. The sole remaining door led to a homey bathroom whose sink was in major need of a drainage check-up.
Natural lighting was scarce inside the establishment, and almost nonexistent once a lineup began to form near the ordering counter. It wasn't as if the dining area served as a good spot either, as the overhead pot lights made for seriously annoying glare spots. But this wasn't the downtown core's J-Town; it was intended to cater to the demands of students and fusion food-lovers alike by providing a spot to grab a quick meal.
The name "Teara Lab", as explained by one of the owners present at this event, had resulted from combining "tea" with a place where recipes were developed from scratch (ie. a "laboratory"). He described his creation as a restaurant where all elements of the sandwich menu had been crafted and developed in-house; along with food items, he also wanted to make aware that bubble tea options were available as well. As for "ra" of "Teara" though, he candidly admitted that it had simply been added to evoke more of a Japanese-sounding name.
Despite being less expansive than Subway or Quiznos, I found the menu to feature enough distinctly different options to satisfy majority of student tastebuds. The beverage selection was also pretty diverse, and consisted of the most popular drinks from leading bubble tea chains.
Instead of preparing each item in the sequence in which they had been ordered, the kitchen had chosen to group several similar orders together. This meant that less popular items were delivered last, much to my dismay.
We first concluded that it would be impossible to go about the consumption process in a dignified manner. The chef was a generous man, and even went as far to overload each sandwich with more components than it was capable of holding. Curry sauce oozed between my lips, while bits of shredded lettuce escaped my guest's hands. Where were the plastic knifes when you needed them?
Teara Lab had provided napkins in excess, but one of the lab coat-donning members of staff coldly informed me that plastic knifes really "weren't a thing". Alright then.
The doors to Toronto's first fusion sandwich shop will open on May 27th, so give them a try!