Address: 339 William Ave
Phone: (204) 949-0424
The wooden bar and the embossed tin walls may be vintage, but inside Kay’s Deli, lunch-counter fare has been given a modern makeover.
Opening at the end of 2008, this Exchange District eatery infused life into the neighbourhood’s breakfast and lunch scene.
Named after owner Bokhi Yoon’s 5-year-old granddaughter, this hidden gem is only a few doors west of Red River College’s Princess Street campus. Like the college, the deli remains true to the building’s heritage, with a few modern exceptions. Well-preserved, original bronze and silver-pressed tin walls and a vaulted ceiling make a dramatic first impression. An industrial vent pipe with an attached set of chic black track lighting runs along the ceiling, taking the space into the 21st century.
Multiple blackboards behind the long counter list—in colourful chalk—the freshly prepared juices, soup, salad, wraps, paninis, and frittata.
The menu is built on fresh, creative and comforting ingredients. House-made soups lead the charge. Available on their own on or with a combo, two types of soup change daily. The carrot soup is simply outstanding. This puréed version is reminiscent of cinnamon-spiced Thanksgiving pumpkin pie—delicious, decadent and soothing in its familiarity.
A spinach, mango and jicama salad flecked with carrots and beets is also irresistible. Jicama, a vegetable common in Mexico and South America similar to water chestnuts, adds crunch and mild sweetness to the mix. Apple cider and mango vinaigrette, candied almonds and pomegranate reduction take noshers on a vacation from typical house greens. Maximize protein by adding a generous portion of juicy slow-roasted chicken breast.
That same tender chicken heats up in the jerk chicken and mango salsa wrap. Red onions, peppers, tomato, lettuce and a hit of sweet chilli sauce mambo on the tastebuds, each ingredient getting equal play in this tropical sensation.
The capicola panino is a well- constructed work of sandwich artistry. Inside a toasted ciabatta bun, cucumbers, shaved Italian ham and provolone are meticulously stacked in precise layers. A light streak of house-made roasted lemon garlic mayonnaise captures the flavours of Italy.
House-made veggie burgers are a tasty choice even for the most ardent carnivore. A pinch of cumin and chilli powder mixed with pecans, onions, carrots, and lentils are formed into delicate patties and topped with more fresh veggies. Tangy mango dill yogurt dressing subs in for mayo and an onion Kaiser bun wraps it up.
Featured frittatas (varieties change weekly) are the biggest departure from standard deli fare. The thick, crustless pie wedge has surprisingly smooth texture. Think silky tofu instead of fluffy quiche. A thin topping of mushroom and melted cheddar is then slathered in hunky, garden fresh tomato creole sauce. The subtle, yet complementary flavours make this dish a lovely light lunch option.
Substitute the deli’s bakery-sourced desserts with one of the freshly squeezed juices or smoothies for added health kick. Grandaughter Kay’s favourite is a blend of grape, orange, apple and strawberry. This sweet, tart drink is a vivid finale after all the fresh and healthy eats. Kay’s Deli is open Mon-Fri 9 am-6 pm.