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May 27, 2008 10:20 AM

Not The Same Old Korean Food Again!

I'm a Toronto native, but have been living in Korea for the past 4 months on work.... and WOW, I've found soooo much good Korean food. There are so many dishes that seem really common here, but I haven't seen them on my visits to Korean restaurants in Toronto.
These are a few of the dishes I really like:

ddak galbi - chicken, sweet potato, green onion and rice cakes in a red sauce cooked at the table...noodles are also often added..

samgyetang - cornish hen stuffed with rice, ginseng, dates, and garlic... comes boiling hot in soup to the table

kalguksu - "knife cut noodles" in an anchovy broth with a bit of veggies (potato and zucchini)

albap - similar to dol soht bibimbap... it comes in a stone bowl and has rice with random veggies, but has fish roe and often a raw egg yolk

haejangguk - pork spine soup; kind of reminds me of gamjatang but less garlic-y/spicy

I'll miss them when I leave, along with a lot of other things i've grown used to here :)
Does anybody know where I could find these back home?

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  1. ddak galbi can be found at Joon's on Bloor in K-Town (the orange banner, below ground level).

    Albap can be found at Sushi Bada in yorkville or at Restaurant Kantharos (Dufferin and Steeles area)

    samgyetang is available at Ajuker Chicken on Bloor (in K-Town)

    1 Reply
    1. re: chocabot

      Awesome, I live uptown so I haven't explored downtown K-town so much, but it's great to know that I'll be able to have them if I get a craving.
      I've been to Ajuker in Thornhill only... I would've never guessed AFC would sell samgyetang :)
      Thanks chocabot!

    2. There is a place at Yonge, south of steeles which specializing in samgyetang called Apkujung restaurant.

      I have eaten haejangguk in a Korean restaurant in Mississauga on dundas (around dundas and Hwy 10), but I do not know the English name of it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: skylineR33

        The samgyetang at Apkujung wasn't very tasty, kind of bland. The one at To Dam Gol (Yonge and Cummer, between Steeles and Finch) was better, IIRC.

        1. re: Teep

          Agree, actually I do not have a good one in Toronto.

        2. re: skylineR33

          Was it "WOW Restaurant" at Dundas and Jaguar Valley? (tiny restaurant on north side of Dundas, a little bit east of Hwy 10, in a small plaza). Tasty stuff.

          1. re: mogo

            No, it is in another is full of Korean, the dishes are unlike those we see in other Korean restaurant, I guess it is the truly old style authentic ones like haejangguk.

            Agree that the quality of WOW is good ! They only use sesame oil, unlike those at Yonge and Finch (according to my korean friend).

        3. there's also a Joon's at Yonge/Sheppard that has ddak galbi.

          1. in term's of korean food up north, i've only been to "oh geul boh geul" on yonge (south of finch), soban (yonge and finch), ehwa/pear blossom (yonge and empress?), the owl of minerva (yonge and also at FMP), and "castle" (hwy 7 and commerce valley) and a soon tofu place (on yonge... the one with only 10 or so items on their menu)....

            i get the feeling that these places are not "real/traditional" korean places, but am i wrong? (i'm chinese btw) If so, what are other/better places to check out in the north (north york/markham, etc.)?

            1. That's great! Thank you guys :) I know I'll be able to find these and I'll see if it compares to the ones I've had here.

              I guess the only one I'm missing from my list is kalguksu. I've tried a few kalguksu places here and they seem to vary quite a lot in quality here too. A lot of places I tried give a watery version... I've only found one specialized place which does a really good job of it here (in Ulsan, Nam-gu, Mugeo-dong area!) .. nice thick flavourful soup!

              6 Replies
              1. re: sumashi

                personally as a korean, it is very disappointing that toronto does not have a good representation of korean food. it's much more diverse than you see here.

                and can i please comment that TRADITIONALLY, korean food from Seoul is mild and not very spicy, even for kimchi. spiciness comes from the southern regions of south korea. but since the public came to understand that spicy food is good for you (although too much could hurt), popular foods are turning spicy.

                my grandparents from both sides are from seoul, my parents were born in seoul, i was born in seoul. i remember i could not deal with spiciness growing up because my home food was not spicy. in case you wonder how korean people eat all kinds of spicy food. some of them prefer mild.

                just a thought... out of missing real & amazing korean food.

                1. re: exquisite

                  I agree because, looking at my list of foods listed, none of them are really spicy!
                  Maybe the ddak galbi can be pretty hot, but the rest are definitely not. Samgyetang and kalguksu are both very mild dishes, albap isn't eaten with hot sauce like bibimbap is, and haejangguk isn't very hot either.

                  1. re: sumashi

                    What do you think of Owl of Minerva in North York? Is that authentic at all? I see a lot of Korean students there but can never tell if it would be given a thumbs up by Chow Foodies...

                    1. re: Popdoggy

                      I don't know if I can give Owl of Minerva a fair review because I've only been there once, and it was after a really late night :) I'll have to try it again when I get back to Toronto to compare it.

                      One thing I do notice though.... I've only ever seen gamjatang here as a BIG dish, meant to be shared by at least 2 people. It's not single serving bowls, like in Toronto. If you want a smaller portion, you'll have to get haejangguk here, which is very similar.

                      1. re: sumashi

                        in north york, right next door to the owl of minerva, there's an "oh geul boh geul" .... that i frequent (just went last night with friends actually) .... we go there quite a bit because they have a pretty big menu, and the ladies are nice to us (none of us are korean) ... they have the pork bone soup in single portion for 7 dollars (dinner price, lunch is a bit cheaper i think)

                        oh geul boh geul, owl, and this coffee shop all share the same parking lot behind the building ...

                        what i've wondered is: is this quality of korean food considered good or standard? are there better restaurants in the area?

                      2. re: Popdoggy

                        I would say it's decent. If I want pork bone soup in Toronto, I guess I'd go there.