This Restaurant’s Commitment to Detail Is Bonkers and We Love It

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Yeah, we get it: The dishes at Atomix in New York City are dazzling. Just read all the reviews! But the thing that makes Atomix a true experience comes down to all the meticulously sourced details surrounding the food. The otherworldly ceramics. The personal collection of chopsticks generously shared. The menu presented on graphic flashcards—and coveted by every diner who comes through (I have two sets!).

For chef JP Park and general manager Ellia Park, who also run the more casual Atoboy just two blocks away, the presentation is about more than simply showing off their taste in the good stuff: It’s about handing the mic to young Korean creatives just like them.

“I want Atomix to be a way to introduce young Korean talent,” JP says. “There aren’t many channels to enter the market otherwise.”

Here, the couple uses their sumptuous halibut dish to show how each detail of their sleek, fine-dining restaurant contributes to that mission.

1. The Food: JP blends French (brown butter) and Korean (doenjang, a fermented bean paste) staples for jjim, Atomix’s steamed fish course. “The nutty flavor of the brown butter complements the deeply rooted umami of the jang,” he says. The sauce is then poured over a round of silky halibut, spoon-tender hunks of butternut squash, and fatty foie gras.

atomix chop sticks

Photo by Alex Lau

Take your pick from Ellia’s vast collection of chopsticks.

2. The Chopsticks: “When you go to a Japanese restaurant, you pick your own sake cup,” Ellia says. “I wanted to do the same.” So she lets diners choose their own set of chopsticks, crafted by different Korean artists, from her personal collection of 40 sets. She picked them up over the last two years from different shops throughout Seoul.

2. The Plate: Ceramicist Youme Oh, who also happens to be JP’s cousin, crafted this jade-hued ceramic bowl by hand to mimic traditional Korean wares. For the rest of the plates, the Parks commissioned all South Korean makers, including up-and-comers like artist Eunyoung Kown to more established names like porcelain master Namhee Kim.

atomix lede

Photo by Alex Lau

Gotta catch ’em all.

3. The Menu: Each dish on the tasting menu comes with one of these cards: The front side features a South Korean artist’s drawing inspired by JP’s dish sketches (Oh made this one), while the back details every component of the dish, from the sauces to the accompanying banchan.

4. The Spoon: Ellia stumbled upon these simultaneously rustic- and modern-looking spoons at Jeo Jip (저집), an old-school ceramics shop in Seoul. Each copper utensil is made by hand, hence the tiny variations.

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They beat their captives with a fish carving, and they played Russian roulette. Court documents detail bizarre Toronto kidnapping

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“I’m (going to) untie your bro,” mumbled the teenaged kidnapper to his prisoner’s brother on the other end of the phone.

“Get the three (thousand dollars) and then we’re gonna meet, okay? Fam, I, I … I trust you fam. I’ll put one in this kid early morning tomorrow if nothing is going on fam.”

The captor, who wasn’t a family member, wanted $10,000 to release his two 16-year-old abductees, unaware Toronto police were listening and recording the April 20, 2016 phone call. Hours earlier, police obtained an emergency wiretap to capture the ransom negotiations and money exchange details.

It’s an urban crime tale featuring scenes straight out of a Quentin Tarantino crime movie; they include a condo shootout, a game of Russian roulette and forced sex acts.

It’s also a case underscoring the intractable problem of uncooperative witnesses, even when they’ve been victimized, and the challenges they pose for police and prosecutors trying to bring perpetrators to justice.

Earlier this fall, Superior Court Justice Anne Molloy convicted the 17-year-old ringleader, identified in court as T.G., of kidnapping, firearms and drug trafficking.

While he can’t be identified because of his age, Molloy found him to be a gun-toting, street-level drug dealer with a taste for expensive cognac and lavish spending on cars and short-term rental accommodations. “T.G. was clearly engaged in a criminal lifestyle, as evidence in part by his participation in the kidnapping,” she wrote in a 24-page decision.

Molloy dismissed all charges against his co-accused, M.R.

About an hour before his arrest, T.G. was spotted on a high-rise balcony, “smoking, singing, and pointing to a stack of money he had in one hand.” When heavily armed Emergency Task force officers busted through the door they found street-level drug paraphernalia, fentanyl-laced heroin, crack cocaine and $1,900 in cash.

In early December, Lincoln Richards and Rushine Rowe, in their early 20s, both pleaded guilty for their roles in the kidnapping.

The two captives can’t be identified because of safety concerns.

Their ordeal began at an April 18, 2016, party gone awry in a unit on the 25th floor at 300 Front St., a downtown Toronto building with a reputation as a hot spot for short-term renters throwing parties.

Using the name Antowuan Adams, T.G. paid cash for Unit 2509 — it was customary for him in early 2016, when he was blowing about $4,000 a month on cars and condos, the judge wrote in her decision.

Richards, a rapper known as Ranski, brought two 16-year-olds to the party. One was an outsider, hailing from an area in northwest Toronto known as Queen’s Drive. Most of the partiers were associated with the city’s hardscrabble Lawrence Heights and Driftwood neighbourhoods.

Around 3:30 a.m., uninvited members of “the Queen’s Drive group” showed up at the building, the judge wrote summarizing the evening’s events. Richards, Rowe and two youths left the party to find them, but didn’t, and headed back to the 25th-floor condo. When the elevator door opened, the Queen’s Drive members were in the hallway.

Guns were drawn, bullets fired, surveillance footage recording some of the mayhem.

Police found evidence of shootings in three separate areas of the building and casings from at least two separate guns. Despite this, no one was injured.

T.G. and his associates blamed the 16-year-olds for disclosing the location of the party to the interlopers.

The bandits fled the condo tower and headed for a townhouse in Swansea, near High Park, where Richards lived with his mother. There, the teens were tied to chairs and beaten repeatedly, one of them pistol-whipped in the head.

While Richards stayed behind to clean up the mess, the group took their tied-up captives to two different apartments in Lawrence Heights. There, they were subjected to more beatings, one of them attacked by an assailant using a wooden carving of a fish, grabbed from a wall.

Digital photos of the bound and bloodied pair were sent to members of the Queen’s Drive group.

The Crown also alleged the kidnappers forced the teens to perform sexual acts on each other, which they videotaped to ensure their demands for $10,000 in ransom were met.

An older brother, a convicted drug dealer who knew some of the kidnappers, received a photo showing the captors threatening to cut off his finger with scissors.

Their mother, who learned of the kidnapping from her older son, confronted Richards on the street wearing her son’s jacket. “Your son is in this predicament right now because of what he did so anything that happens to your son he deserves,” Richards, who flashed his gun, told her.

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, the teen’s mother made a $3,000 downpayment on the ransom and he was released at a Husky gas station. It was his grandmother who alerted the cops, who got the emergency wire as a result. The arrests followed later.

After he was set free, the teen gave a detailed three-hour statement to police about his ordeal. “They were playing Russian roulette with us, putting one bullet in … and spinning it,” he told them. One shot went “right by my head.”

But he eventually realized he would be required to testify in court.

“Who does such a thing?” the exhausted teen asked the officers.

“Who does what?” one of them asked back.

“Come to trial and you going to look at me and I am going to say, ‘yeah, this guy he kidnapped me.’ ”

After that he clammed up — and recanted everything he had already told them.

Despite this, prosecutors Elizabeth Nadeau and Glenn Brotherston were able to get his statement admitted into court. (The other victim also refused to cooperate.)

To prove their case, led by Toronto Police Detectives Sergio Brito and Brandon Robinson, the Crown attorneys relied on what the judge called “substantial independent” corroborative evidence, which included fingerprints, surveillance footage, wiretaps — and a broken carving of a fish.

Next month, prosecutors are seeking to have T.G. sentenced as an adult. Rowe and Richards are also scheduled for sentencing in January.

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy

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Ottawa to detail Canada’s new official poverty measure on Tuesday

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OTTAWA—The federal government will detail a new way to measure poverty across Canada on Tuesday, as it pledges billions of dollars to reduce homelessness and build more affordable housing over the next decade.

Adam Vaughan, the Liberal MP for Spadina—Fort York and parliamentary secretary to the social development minister, confirmed to the Star that the government will explain details of its official “poverty line” on Tuesday. Vaughan said the poverty line will be set at different levels in regions across the country to reflect social and economic circumstances such as the cost of housing.

A homeless person is seen in downtown Toronto in January 2018. The federal government is pledging billions of dollars to reduce poverty across Canada.
A homeless person is seen in downtown Toronto in January 2018. The federal government is pledging billions of dollars to reduce poverty across Canada.  (Christopher Katsarov / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The goal, he said, is to establish a better way to measure who needs more social assistance as Ottawa works to reduce poverty by 50 per cent over the next 12 years.

“It’ll give you a clearer understanding of who has been lifted out (of poverty), who is still in,” Vaughan said, pointing to a government announcement in August that promised legislation to create an official poverty line.

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the Huffington Post last week that the Liberal government would introduce that legislation in the coming days. He told the website that such a bill would hold future governments accountable to poverty reduction efforts like the Liberal goal of lifting 650,000 Canadians out of poverty by next year. “Future federal governments will need to live up to that unless they change the law,” he said.

Read more:

Ottawa, province ink deal to preserve 130,000 social housing units

Opinion | It’s time for politicians to take food insecurity and poverty seriously

Duclos is scheduled to make an announcement at an Ottawa food bank Tuesday morning.

As Vaughan explained, Canada currently uses a series of measures for poverty, such as the “market basket measure,” which defines low income based on the cost of basic goods and services like transportation, food, clothing and housing. Statistics Canada also uses a “low income cut off” that counts Canadian households that spend a larger share of income on necessities like food, shelter and clothing. There are different cut offs based on the size of a community and how many people live in a household.

Anti-poverty groups such as Campaign 2000 have advocated for an official poverty line because they say it is necessary to establish reduction targets and timelines.

The Liberal government has pledged to spend $40 billion from 2017 to 2027 on its national housing strategy. The plan aims to create 100,000 new housing units and repair 300,000 units over that decade to address urgent housing needs of low-income Canadians and cut chronic homelessness by 50 per cent. It also includes $2.2 billion over 10 years to tackle homelessness.

The NDP has accused the government of being too slow to spend this housing money, much of which isn’t scheduled to roll out until after next year’s federal election.

On Monday, Duclos announced details of how the money will roll out — with $43 million going to the territories over nine years and cities gaining more access to $1.25 billion available through the government’s homelessness strategy.

With files from The Canadian Press

Alex Ballingall is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @aballinga

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