SeoulCity: Any reviews?
- HarryLloyd Feb 23, 2007 04:05 AM
I just noticed this place yesterday. has anyone been? What did you have? how was it?
I posted a detailed (and highly positive review) in the earlier linked thread but wanted to add that my parents have been pack a few times since and had similarly excellent experiences. The only note of caution would be the tasting menu which offers 3, 4, and 5 dishes at a relatively low-cost. They ordered it and found the dishes were identical to the appetizer menu so you might as well order what you want a la carte.
I do recommend you try them.
I arrived at the restaurant a quite a bit early and was able to chat with some of the staff and sample some wine. Very friendly staff and a good range of available wines.
I started with the Grilled Octopus Salad which I found very very good with some nice heat to it. For my main I had the Braised Beef Short Ribs. The rib itself I found just ok with nothing special about it. The crispy rice patty below it though was amazing however. For desert I had the Creme Brule Trio (Ginger,GreenTea,Red Bean). I liked the ginger one the best as it had that nice potent ginger bite to it. The other were good but I could have eaten the ginger one all night.
It was great to have dinner with people who love to chat about food. I definitely left with a smile on my face! Looking forward to the next one!
I ordered similar items to mikijm.
My appetizer was the crab cakes, which were good and very crabby, but not really spicy as I'd have expected based on the description. If I'd ordered them in a regular, vaguely European restaurant, I'd have thought them very good, but I was expecting some Korean twist on them, and they didn't really have that.
The braised beef short ribs were, as mikijm noted, really nothing special. Good, but not interesting, and accompanied by some fairly bland veggies (and I normally love me some bok choy). The crispy rice patty thing was the best thing I ate all night by a landslide. It was wonderful.
The creme brulee trio was interesting. I thought the Ginger Cinnamon was overwhelmed by the cinnamon and I didn't taste any noticeable ginger flavour in it, at all. The green tea was good but a bit watery. I really, really enjoyed the red bean and loved the heavier texture that the red bean gave to it--though others were decidedly less impressed by that than I was.
I also think I may have ordered badly.
The vegetarian dumpling soup was a bland broth with 4 spicy dumplings. The 4 mushroom rice bowl was a generous serving, but I found it underflavoured. I wouldn't order either dish again.
That being said, the bite I had of someone else's crab cake was delicious. So were the spoonfuls of another diner's creme brulee trio.
The best part of the evening was the company.
throwing my few cents in.
i was happy service wise that the waitress (before we ordered) obliged to doing separate bills even though i even offered to group it into bunches of four at the least. was not happy that no one returned my phone calls for a reservation the first couple of weeks.
soju comfort, fanatastic. but of course how is southern comfort and pear liquor plus pear juice not fantastic. the oxtail ravioli sounds like how i had it last... lacking depth and incredibly salty, although we did complain/tell them so they don't seem to be changing that anytime soon. the cured salmon pancakes were good again but seemed less in quantity of salmon and the pancakes were more messily put together. salmon does overpower the pancakes which just end up tasting a little greasy when all put together. i ended up getting the special, yu ke, which was a beef carpaccio with bruinoised asian pear and a salty vinegar sauce. sauce overpowered a bit but great flavour and texture contrasts all around. midtowngirl's dumplings were great! tender moist flavourful meat in a fairly thin crisp dumpling wrapper and good dipping sauce.
i really enjoyed my 4 mushroom rice dish, unlike phoenikia, but i think i did enjoy it for it's sort of subtleness due to they types of mushroom they included (enoki, shitake, king and oyster) since the king seemed to make up the majority of the dish. i still found full flavour in it and was every once in a while hit with a small amount of black pepper... not sure if that was intentional. btw, enoki mushrooms should probably be cooked even though they're pretty looking raw. short ribs were good, tender but as others have mentioned not exceptional compared to many other restaurants that offer it. didn't end up trying to fried rice cake nor the veggies. the seafood paella, which i've had before and enjoyed, looked dried otu this time around with tiny mussels and overcooked shrimp. a real shame. cod was lovely in flavour and cooked well, but still.. didn't really seem necessarily better than other restaurants doing it up.
no desserts on our end, but before we received our apps we had small dishes of picked daikon (or radish or something?), marinated/pickled garlic scapes and kimchi (hint of spice but no serious pungency from fermentation) and they were pretty decent to pick at. rounded out my meal with green tea that had essence of roasted rice and was poured plentifully after they found time to steep it in the large pot.
really enjoyed the company, loved how everytime it came to dig in a dish i was pretty much foisted upon with bites of everyone elses food.
also btw, i think for the first half hour or so we were the only people there and then past 8 other tables were pretty much full. however, it didn't seem like there was a lot of turnover in the night.
Jumping in with the rest. I have to agree with everyone, the highlight of the evening for me was meeting and chatting with the other 'hounds -- what fun to put faces, real names and personalities to the screen names. I only wish we could have found a good way to interact with the other half of the table.
I had the crab cakes, which I enjoyed very much, though it wasn't as spicy as I was expecting. My main was the short rib, which was tasty, but nothing extraordinary. The crispy panko-crusted rice patty was indeed the highlight of the dish -- I loved how the crisp edges soaked up the sauce to make for a lovely chewy/crispy bite.
The nicest surprise for me were midtowngirl's fried dumplings. When I saw them on the menu, I thought "great, another plate of over-fried, greasy mandu". But they turned out to be light and crispy with a nicely flavoured pork filling.
All in all, the food was fine, not earth shattering. It's definitely not meant to be an "authentic" Korean joint. It uses Korean flavours/cooking as a jumping off point (sort of like what Xacutti does with Indian). I don't imagine it being a destination restaurant, but I can see it being a nice, casual evening out with friends.
a common thread in all of this is that, no, it's not your typical korean fare but as torontojo put it i don't think the korean aspect is much more than an influence of ingredients. it didn't really occur to me, but xacutti is a good comparison.
for the atmosphere though... i'd much rather go to seoulcity than ninth gate which supposidly brings you the authentic korean as we know it in a much more upscale setting. if only they were cooking it like the shops on bloor west, perhaps i could justify the doubled cost, but their rendition is rather poor.
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the company and good conversation. Unfortunately, I would rate the food as "good" at best.
We started with a lemon and soju cocktail each, not bad for $6 each but not too distinctive either.
We shared the mandoo dumplings, which were quite good and greaseless with a tasty dipping sauce to boot. Not so enthusiastic about the fried chili shrimp, much more bland than expected and no garnish or dip in sight.
Well chosen little wine list. We enjoyed an organic Tempranillo and a perrenial favourite, the Pierre Sparr Gewurtztraminer.
For mains, my wife chose the Korean paella. It was undistinctive and a very small portion for the $16 price tag. I had the kalbi ribs, not very well balanced flavours as it was excessively sweet. Again, the portion was very small, I doubt that it was even 4oz. of meat and it was chewier than marinated kalbi should have been. Small bit of veg on my plate, only 2 tiny bok choy. They offered brown rice with the braised short ribs main but, when we asked for some, we were told that they didn't have any. We chose not to indulge in dessert and found our bill quite pricey at $105 with tip. For that kind of money and those small portions, they need to put a whole lot more quality on that plate. I don't think that I am motivated to go back, when I can eat twice at other quality Korean restaurants for the same money.
Based on the quality of the dinner companions alone I would say we had an excellent evening out! Conversation was mostly about food and there was lots of sharing.
I had the Fried Dumplings as a starter which I enjoyed. The pork stuffing was light and tasty and they came with a soy dipping sauce that had a spicy kick to it. For my main I had the black cod with miso glaze which was melt-in-my-mouth perfectly done. It came with steamed rice and a side of baby bokchoy. The bokchoy was quite garlicky and salty, which I liked, but could be a bit strong for some.
There was a post a while ago about access for people with disabilities in a lot of restaurants in Toronto because the washrooms are often down in the basement so I was interested to note that although it is a small restaurant, Seoul City's washrooms are on the main level.
It was a very enjoyable evening, though I think I may have made the wrong choices off the menu! Based on what I tasted...
Hits: The French Seoul martini, a mix of soju, chambord and pineapple juice. Kimchi crab cakes had a nice texture. Those who tried it raved about the crispy rice cake that came with the short ribs. Creme brulee sampler for dessert, featuring a trio of flavours (including green tea and red bean).
Misses: The oxtail ravioli soup was extremely bland, the only taste coming from salt and the stray green onion. Bulgogi was fine, but could have used a shot of pepper paste or other seasonings.
There are a few pictures of the evening's meal at http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbcurio/....
I really enjoyed my crab cakes. I didn't mind that the kimchi was subtle. It added and didn't distract which I liked. Even though I'm not a fan of the deep fried, I did enjoy a piece of Midtowngirl's fried dumplings. I found Jamie's oxtail to be bland. He warned me about the salty broth so I stayed clear of it when sampling his appetizer. I enjoyed a piece of Pinstripe's carpaccio though I thought it was an odd special for a korean fuzion menu! For my main I had the black cod also which was tasty and perfectly cooked. Not as good as the black cod at Lee's though IMO but quite good.
I was very impressed with the service. I thought our waitress did a great job with our group of 13. It was attentive and never felt intrusive. We did experience a slight draft from the door at the beginning of the night but disappeared as the evening went on. Either the wind died down or our temperatures rose with the bottomless pot of tea we had going! It was fantastic to meet everyone and I'm looking forward to the next outing.