Nami on Adelaide had been the original pick, though a reservation had been refused for a Saturday lunch. This prompted a re-evaluation of other options, eventually pointing in the direction of an unexplored eatery in Chinatown.
Undoubtedly the brightest spots in the establishment were the bar stools immediately facing the open preparation area. Between the larger tables in the back dining area and the smaller ones in the lounge, both proved dim though visually appealing.
The lounge area, in particular, was exceptionally sophisticated in terms of a (well-cushioned) L-shaped booth seating along the wall and industrial-style light fixtures. Resting on each circular table was a booklet listing alcoholic offerings and utensils (including a lengthy pair of chopsticks); later provided was a jug of water such that guests could refill their own glasses as necessary.
The Cereal Prawn Tart, shown as flat discs bearing tiny strands of microgreens from my Insta-research, bore great resemblances to mini savoury muffins in actuality. The trio was served atop a single curry leaf, each dusted with a crunchy and impossibly salty cereal crumble. Intertwined between heavy doses of sodium was a pungent spice that succeeded in stripped the interior of one's mouth of moisture.
The only factor found to be odd was how the salmon belly emerged lukewarm instead of steaming.
I couldn't stomach more than two spoonfuls of the purple rice: while it was as coarse and chewy as the traditional Korean version, the grains were stale and the sriracha-like ssamjang sauce was much too spicy to handle.
The tonkatsu bites were tender, however the soft, shockingly sweet coating took us by surprise. More reminiscent of Mott's applesauce than tangy sweet and sour dressing, it was an unmistably bizarre profile.
Washrooms took the form of individual, gender-separated stalls. It was beyond my reasoning why a restaurant of such high seating capacity had limited restroom space to two (or maybe three?) stalls. Regardless, the interior boasted enough illumination and cleanliness.
For the adventurous beings out there, feel free to attempt. But don't say I didn't warn you.
Sadly, lunch had left me too full to attempt the beautiful creation. Moreover, the compact cafe extended not a single vacancy. A Kinako Latte was taken to go intead.
The establishment has been fully operational since last summer, but I had never really looked into it. Its very location in tourist central was one of the factors that persuaded from initial investigation.
Would it be another pricey tourist trap? Is the concept of an open bar (literally) and arcade too messy to handle?
Online reservations were unavailable, so the sole option of trial was same-day, in-person requests. That being said, wait times were minimal. Once the previous session's users vacated the premises, apparatus was disinfected, and electronic waivers were signed, guests could stash their belongings in lockers and suit up.
Doors shown on the VR screen were, in fact, real doors that users that could open and enter. The rays fired from the handheld guns could be felt reflecting off the ground and onto one's legs. At one point, there was even a mist of "slime" from one of the ghosts in the story.
However, one should also note that individual games required fewer credits than Playdium. One-person games ranged between 4-6 credits, whereas Playdium easily charges 5-8 credits per play. The sole exception at The Rec Room was the photo booth, which rang in 28 credits; in reality though, this is the monetary equivalent of three dollars, which isn't a particularly hefty price tag.
At this point, it is also important to point that the quality of the redemption prizes. As opposed to the tacky plastic jewelry and low-quality stuffed toys at Playdium, The Rec Room featured surprisingly useful items, and at lower points redemption levels. Frankly speaking, the joy of an arcade normally resides in the engagement of games anyway, though I'm certain no one would mind ending off the evening with a new portable battery or set of monogrammed shot glasses.
I can't quite say I'm fond of the random plastic cups of beers in crowded areas, though it is an innovative touch to a downtown entertainment centre.
The day wrapped up with a hectic attempt to fulfill errands before the next train departed, however the despicable TTC closure hindered the process.
Two missed trains later, I settled for dinner in the form of a hearty bowl of Gyuudon takeout from Gyugyuya.