In search of Muk (pronounced mook) a Korean appetizer from a good Korean restaurants
I used to eat often at Chung Gi Wah at Yonge and Finch, but it closed down recently (after almost 10 years at the supposedly cursed location! :'( ) and I loved it so much from there. Chung Gi Wah was a Japanese and Korean restaurant.
Anyhow, its just a simple little appetizer that's brought out before every meal, like the seaweed salad and cold rice noodles (can't recall the name of them at the moment) but i love it. And not every restaurant serves it.
If you know of one that does, please let me know :)
i find that restos that usually serve a lot of banchan (side dishes/appetizers) will include one type of muk. I've found them served at korea house (on bloor/christie area), Il Bun Ji (also in bloor/christie area) and Shilla Dynasty (1161 Weston Rd @ lawrence) -- these are my fave korean restos in reverse order (shilla is the best for quality tho really out of teh ways for me).
that said, you can sometimes find them in the korean grocery stores, packaged near the cashier counters (PAT, Galleria, some smaller places). Also, the korean grocery stores (along with some chinese stores, T&T) sell make-your-own boxes of powdered "gelatin/muk" which are not too bad -- muk is very easy to make if time-consuming. the dipping sauce is usually just some soy sauce with sesame oil, chili powder, toasted sesame seeds and scallions.
One of my fav restaurants my family and I go to a lot is called 'Mul Rae Bang' (Bloor/Christie) located on the east side of Christie, right beside the subway station.
They usually serve the muk first alongside a spicy pickled radish dish with a marinated raw fish called 'hong uh hae'(I tried to get the spelling as close as possible, lol) Then the banchan follow shortly before the meal is served. Their dishes are probably among the closest to Korean homecooking that I've tasted in Toronto.
Yeah, too bad Chung Gi Wah closed down. And you are right, not all korean restaurants serve muk. There are several restaurants that usually serve them around Yonge & Steeles area. One is Seoul Ok, located on Yonge St. north of Steeles, on the east side, in a little plaza. Another one is Han Il Kwan, in a plaza west of Yonge St., on north side of Steeles Ave West. You can also pick them up at Galleria Shopping mall in powder form, or pre-cooked.