There’s a little (tiny, really) Japanese cafe tucked in the corner of Warden and Highway 7 that WW and I frequent. It’s not visible from the main road, faces directly into a parking lot, is so small that a baseball team would barely fit in there, and doesn’t even have it’s own bathroom.
It also lacks an English name.
It’s all a bit mysterious, really.
The first time WW brought me here, I had to triple glance at the place to make sure that it’s actually there. Even now I still have to frequently stop and pinch myself to make sure that this cafe isn’t just the product of an overexhausted imagination.
This cafe is Dan Dan Wu, which is my best approximation at creating a Chinese pinyin spelling of how the sign outside the cafe would be read in Mandarin. It’s a strange little place, run and operated by mainland Chinese people but offering an assortment of Japanese dishes, in particular Japanese-style burgers.
When I say Japanese burgers, I don’t mean the rice burgers or lettuce leaf burgers present in the mainstream Japanese chains like MOS Burger. Canada actually has an extremely slow uptake on opening Asian franchises (Chatime and Bulgogi Brothers being notable recent exceptions). It’s actually a pretty regular burger, but the meat and sauce is prepared in a way that in unmistakably reminiscent of Japanese restaurants. And like I said, its location is the very definition of ‘hidden’. Fortunately. it’s also endlessly delicious and very reasonably priced.
On this occasion, I ordered the Japanese fish burger (without a doubt my favourite menu item) and WW had a pork cutlet bento box. My parents came along too, but for the sake of brevity I will just expound on the dishes that the two of us had.
My fish burger was a vision of pure loveliness, and tasted even better. The batter was thin and crisp, the meat was flaky and tender, and the sauce is so tasty you’d think you’d gone to heaven. Tasty, tasty heaven. The whole is very reasonably priced too, at $4.99 it’s less than many Wendy’s or Burger King’s burgers, and trust me this one is MUCH tastier than any of them. Did I mention that this whole thing was tasty? Tasty. It’s a good word.
WW’s pork chop is a bit of a mixed bag. The seaweed salad it came with was very good, and the overall sauce that they cooked the pork in was also delicious (sweet but not overbearing, with just a hint of richness), but on this occasion there were bits of the meat that were a bit dry. I gladly overlooked this though, as everything else was overwhelmingly…yep…tasty.
The best part was that everything was reasonably priced! Four of us ended up spending around $35 after everything, and everyone except me (the poor sod who bought a burger as opposed to combos like everybody else) got a free drink thrown in for good measure too.
The only major weakness of the restaurants is its size. As I’ve said above, the place is tiny. Now to its credit, it doesn’t feel cramped at all. It’s quite bright and airy, considering its dimensions. But the small size renders it absolutely impossible to book for group dinners (if there’s 10 of you then you practically chartered the whole restaurant) and also causes a lack of bathrooms. Seriously, you have to all but take a bus ride and get a transfer in order to get to the washroom, which is located in the next building.
But all in all, a definite must try. It’s a little tricky to find, but I think it’s worth it.
Now if only they’d come up with an English name. I mean, it’s only CANADA, after all.
–Final verdict: Mari Makan!
(Dan Dan Wu) Cafe
3623 Hwy 7 East
Markham, ON L3R 8X6