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Korean restaurants in Toronto?

suddenly susan Sep 3, 2008 10:36 AM

I'm visiting the city for a few weeks and need to get my kimchi on. What are some of your favorite picks for Korean food? I'm looking for everything from hole-in-the-wall joints to nicer places where I can take my K-food newbies in Toronto.

(I've searched the board on this topic but all the posts are more than a year old. Love to have more recent opinions.)

Thanks!

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  1. a
    ascendance Sep 3, 2008 12:48 PM

    While it's really Korean-Chinese food (read: jajang myun and sweet sour pork), Taste of Magic on Bloor, between Bathurst and Christie is an old reliable for me. Of the many places I've been to in town, it's my favourite for jajang myun.

    1. d
      DDD Sep 3, 2008 01:18 PM

      I really like Chodong Soon Tofu - west end - on Dundas just east of Kipling...worth the drive/free parking lot. Great kimchee, amazing fresh/soft tofu, the spicy chicken dish is also fab, our fave is the dolsot bibimbop though.

      1. Recyclor Sep 3, 2008 01:23 PM

        I like Onara Onara at 648 Bloor St W, when in the hood there are many others to check out and with a few good Korean grocery stores around, if you have the means, you can pick up all the ingredients to make your own feast at home...or at least a variety of banchan to snack on...I love those fermented black beans!!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Recyclor
          suddenly susan Sep 4, 2008 04:16 PM

          I went to the big Korean market (down the steps) on Bloor St. and walked out with four grocery bags full of K-goodies. (Of course, one of the bags contained a huge 4-liter jar of kimchi!)

          1. re: Recyclor
            suddenly susan Sep 19, 2008 08:16 PM

            I had lunch at Onara Onara yesterday. Good dolsot bibim bap. The place is smaller and cozier than Ka-chi down the street but I'd say the food is similar in quality.

            Also scored two bags of Korean groceries at the P.A.T. market nearby. Yay! More kimchi!!

          2. j
            Jar Sep 3, 2008 01:35 PM

            In the city a few weeks, Susan, before you leave, you must Suddenly get up Yonge St. N. of Steeles to the Galleria Supermarket. If you have never been there, they have a large variety of different kimchees. And so very much more, Korean, Korean. Several fast food in Supermarket restaurants, if needing just a quick taste, a bakery, sampling on weekends, etc. Worth browsing an hour and you don't need a large cart, they have these wonderful 2 wheelers for smaller purchases!!! Adding a quick P.S., get a great big bag of the Korean Roasted Barley Tea, so many items for home!!!!!

            1. suddenly susan Sep 3, 2008 02:41 PM

              Cool. Thanks for the recc's, everybody. My friend tells me that aside from Onara Onara, the other places are a bit far from where we are. I think I'll check out the Bloor St. restaurants then pick up a big jar of kimchi to stank up the fridge. LOL.

              1. c
                chalenegirl Sep 3, 2008 10:09 PM

                My reccs are downtown only, since i live downtown.

                i like Ka-Chi. the original one is on Bloor st, east of Christie subway station. It's on the very corner and is always pretty packed. the Food is delicious, and so cheap. it's a hole in th wall, but the food speaks for itself. They opened a second location on Spadina, on the street of the Pho Hung (i can't rememebr the name of the street, maybe someone else will know). It is righter and cleaner than the original version, and the food is good, but not as good as the Bloor location.

                If i'm not in the mood for pork bone soup, and tofu stew, i'll go to Rol San. It's on Queen st west, West of Bathurst. the food is good and offers more ambiance than Ka-Chi.The service is great.

                12 Replies
                1. re: chalenegirl
                  Teep Sep 4, 2008 07:38 AM

                  Rol San is Chinese on Spadina, not Korean. You must be thinking of something else...

                  The whole strip from Christie to Bathurst on Bloor is considered "Korean Town" and most of the restos have been there for a while, so year-old posts would still be valid.

                  1. re: Teep
                    c
                    chalenegirl Sep 4, 2008 09:41 AM

                    Oops, thanks Teep. I meant: San Korean Restaurant Located at 676 Queen Street West.

                    1. re: chalenegirl
                      c
                      cowhound Sep 4, 2008 09:57 AM

                      San changed ownership about a year ago.

                      1. re: cowhound
                        c
                        chalenegirl Sep 4, 2008 10:02 AM

                        OK, thanks for that. I was there about 4 months ago, and it was still good so maybe the OP may want to try it, if they were in the Queen west area.

                  2. re: chalenegirl
                    suddenly susan Sep 4, 2008 04:12 PM

                    The S.O. and I went to Ka-Chi on Bloor St. today. Chalenegirl, you were right about the prices; sooo cheap! The two of us ordered three dishes and struggled to finish them all even tho they were delish and the S.O. eats like a horse.

                    We shared the 떡라볶이 (tuck-ra-bokki) which is something i don't usually see in Korean restaurants in the States. It's chewy rice cakes simmered in a spicy-sweet kochu-jang sauce with ramen noodles and fish cakes. It's the kind of comfort food dish you get in cheap-o fast food joints in Korea for $3. The version served at Ka-Chi (still a bargain at $6.50) was less spicy than what you get in Korea but I actually preferred it that way because it didn't sear the taste buds off my tongue and I was able to taste the rest of my meal.

                    I also had a gynormous bibimbap with bulgogi and the S.O. had soon du-bu chigae (a bubbling bowl of silky tofu in a brick-red spicy broth). Both were pretty good, considering their low price tag of $7.50 or so each.

                    The service was friendly enough. A word of caution: Do not use their washroom unless you REALLY have to. You've been warned.

                    I walked along Bloor and I can't wait to try the other places.
                    What do you guys think of Korea House and Buk Chang Dong Soon Du Bu? I'm figuring that Buk Chang Dong is pretty authentic because they only have the sign in Korea. LOL.

                    I'm here till mid-October so please keep the Korean recc's coming.

                    Thanks!

                    1. re: suddenly susan
                      k
                      KevinB Sep 5, 2008 01:47 PM

                      Most of the newer Korean spots are in North York - luckily, it's right on the subway line, so it's no less convenient than getting to the Bloor West K-town. Just get off at Finch and walk south, or get off at Sheppard, and walk north. There must be 20-30 spots to choose from.

                      1. re: KevinB
                        suddenly susan Sep 6, 2008 10:09 AM

                        I'll see if I can make my way there. Thanks~

                      2. re: suddenly susan
                        j
                        juno Sep 5, 2008 02:15 PM

                        Buk Chang Dong, on Bloor St. just east of the Christie subway station, is my favorite go-to Korean joint on that stretch of Koreatown. It has just a half dozen offerings, all at $8, tax included, (unless the prices have jumped recently), almost all of which are substantial Korean soups/stews with assorted toppings. Just slightly more expensive than Ka-Chi, but - in my view - a cut or two above in quality. Invariably busy with serious eaters, most of them older than the Ka-Chi crowd. There's a branch of Buk Chang Dong on north Yonge St., near Finch Ave., with exactly the same menu and prices, and just as good.

                        1. re: juno
                          suddenly susan Sep 6, 2008 10:08 AM

                          Awesome. I love soon du bu chigae and I can't wait to try the stews at Buk Chang Dong. Thanks for the input.

                          1. re: juno
                            suddenly susan Oct 16, 2008 03:27 PM

                            I had lunch at Buk Chang Dong recently and thought it was awesome. All the stews were hearty and delicious. I had the Mandu Soon Dubu and the S.O. had the Kimchi Soon Dubu. I also loved the rice cooked in the stone pot served with water at the end. It's clear that they don't take short cuts here while some of the other places in the nabe do. The food is good enough that you don't mind the cramped and charmless decor.

                            Thanks for the recc!

                          2. re: suddenly susan
                            e
                            e8ghtmileshigh Nov 17, 2008 01:58 AM

                            "The service was friendly enough. A word of caution: Do not use their washroom unless you REALLY have to. You've been warned."

                            thats my number 1 reason to not eat somewhere. dirty washroom=dirty kitchen

                          3. re: chalenegirl
                            num nums Sep 19, 2008 08:42 PM

                            The 2nd location of Ka-Chi is on St. Andrew just west of Spadina. It's in the area known as Kensington Market which borders on Chinatown. So, on the slim chance you have any room left in your stomachs, there are lots of other chowish places nearby.

                          4. BokChoi Sep 19, 2008 09:33 PM

                            If you were in the mood for Korean BBQ, I have liked Sariwan at Yonge and Steeles. Their Kalbi was nicely marinated and very tender. No photo of the ribs, but I have a photo of the pork belly they serve:
                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

                            Their ginseng tea is also quite nice and herby.

                            Cheers!

                            19 Replies
                            1. re: BokChoi
                              f
                              foodlandian Sep 20, 2008 08:37 PM

                              Sariwon on Yonge, north of Steeles has the BEST korean BBQ in all of Toronto. You cannot get better than this in Toronto. Their non-BBQ dishes are also worth your $$. I just had dinner there, the marniated gal-bi and mool-nangmyun (cold noodle soup). Their noodle soup is 2nd best in Toronto, after Jo-sun-ok, which is also on Yonge, north of steeles. But the only thing good there is the nangmyun.

                              1. re: foodlandian
                                skylineR33 Sep 20, 2008 08:49 PM

                                really ? Have you tried Arirang in Mississauga ? It is comparable.

                                1. re: foodlandian
                                  BokChoi Sep 24, 2008 05:25 PM

                                  foodlandian, I haven't tried Jo-sun-ok yet. Thanks for the tip. Always on the lookout for new food in my area.

                                  skylineR33 - anything on the east end IYO?

                                  Actually found an old photo of the kalbi: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-snowpea/2885663579/

                                  Close-up of grilling action (kalbi): http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...
                                  Cheers!

                                  1. re: BokChoi
                                    skylineR33 Sep 24, 2008 08:09 PM

                                    I do not know any place that is good in the east end. But there are a couple of places that are good in Mississauga which are recommended by my Korean friends as they now prefer Korean restaurants in the west more than those on Yonge street.

                                    1. re: BokChoi
                                      grandgourmand Sep 25, 2008 04:18 AM

                                      Ok that close up shot put Sariwon on my list of places to definitely visit. The grill looks just like this one in LA (Park's) I went to earlier this year, and the meat quality looks above average, for sure.

                                      1. re: grandgourmand
                                        BokChoi Sep 25, 2008 05:50 AM

                                        Glad the photo was of some assistance, grandgourmand! Hope you enjoy it. Let me know your thoughts once you have. I am always on a look out for something better if you happen to come across something that beats Sariwan.

                                        Thanks skylineR33 for the response. My regular dining group usually isn't up for Korean BBQ, unless it's close by, and we all live in the East end - so it will be tough to drag them across town for Korean food. Dim sum at Grand is a different story though...
                                        Let me know if you find any great finds in the East end though. Thanks

                                    2. re: foodlandian
                                      Chester Eleganté Oct 8, 2008 12:16 PM

                                      Cho Sun Ok's mul naengmyun is excellent, and arguably the best to some, but the thing is that their version comes with a large dollop of hot sauce, and they will actually refuse to serve it to you sans sauce ("But," they protest, "without the sauce, it is not delicious!!")!

                                      I prefer the versions without the hot sauce, as I look to order this dish as a great coolant on a hot summer day. The version at Sariwon is indeed very good, and acts as a superb complement to their kalbi.

                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naengmyeon

                                      1. re: Chester Eleganté
                                        w
                                        whatstasty Nov 17, 2009 07:59 PM

                                        where's Cho Sun Ok? I have crazy naengmyun cravings sometimes..

                                        1. re: whatstasty
                                          Teep Nov 18, 2009 06:21 AM

                                          BibimQ at 597 Yonge serves naengmyun but I don't think it's listed on the menu. I saw Koreans eating it there before I knew what it is - just saw the steel bowl, egg, veggies and noodles in soup. Have to try it some time.

                                          1. re: whatstasty
                                            jlunar Nov 18, 2009 06:29 AM

                                            I loooove Cho Sun Ok's mul naeng myun. And of their ban chan, this:
                                            http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlunar/2...

                                            is my fave. Thankfully, they serve cold noodle all year!!

                                            -----
                                            Cho Sun Ok
                                            7353 Yonge St, Markham, ON L3T, CA

                                      2. re: BokChoi
                                        suddenly susan Sep 26, 2008 03:15 PM

                                        Sariwan is kind of far for me. What's the best Korean restaurant in downtown Toronto, preferably near Bloor St?

                                        1. re: suddenly susan
                                          b
                                          berbere Sep 26, 2008 03:49 PM

                                          if you are looking for a full menu traditional korean place on bloor st, between bathurst and christie, there are several restos that have been around for at least 20-30 years which include korea house, seoul house (i may have the wrong english transl here) and il bun ji: they offer the traditional spreads unlike places like buk chang dong or owl... il bun ji is quite good despite holding itself out as a sushi/japanese place, the korean fare is very good with lots of side dishes and large portions. i'd recommend the traditional kalbi (rather than the LA style), their jjampong is good (hot), as are the other soups - prepare to share and roll home.

                                          1. re: berbere
                                            suddenly susan Sep 26, 2008 04:16 PM

                                            Thanks! Of the three you mentioned (Korea House, Seoul House, Il Bun Ji), which do you think has the best decor and is good for a group of 6 people?

                                            1. re: suddenly susan
                                              b
                                              berbere Sep 26, 2008 07:24 PM

                                              hmm, as i said, these are the older restos in town and so their decor is admittedly kinda stale - for a group of 6, you should be able to get a booth at il bun ji and the others.... i think i prefer il bun ji over the others, but seoul house is good too. il bun ji's decor is more japanese and seoul house is traditional korean -- they are all on the same side of bloor (north) and so you could easily just walk and pop your head in to see if it appeals to you before deciding.

                                          2. re: suddenly susan
                                            BokChoi Sep 26, 2008 04:37 PM

                                            Sorry suddenly_susan, I am more familiar with the Northern Korean Town. Hope the others can assist you. I have only had mediocre Korean food on Bloor, so I cannot recommend a satisfying meal there - I probably chose restaurants poorly.

                                            Cheers!

                                            1. re: BokChoi
                                              1sweetpea Nov 14, 2008 06:49 PM

                                              I haven't been to Il Bun Ji in a couple of years, but I've never had a bad meal there. I tend to stick to the Mae Woon Tang (spicy fish soup) or the Hwe Dup Bap (raw fish with vegetables, rice and spicy sauce. Both are great. The one drawback at Il Bun Ji is that their kalbi is cooked in the kitchen. They don't have table grills. There's a place at Weston Road and Eglinton that is popular with Koreans. My Korean friend told me her parents go there when they're in Toronto. I'm not sure of its name. I also like Seoul House at Dufferin and Orfus Road. It does a mix of Korean, Japanese and Chinese, but their Saengsun Chigae (spicy fish soup) and Hwe Dup Bap are both very good.

                                              1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                suddenly susan Jul 30, 2009 06:50 PM

                                                Four of us went to Il Bun Ji and had table top BBQ in one of the private rooms. Were you by yourself or just ordering one portion? Most Korean restaurants only allow table top BBQ for a minimum of two portions.

                                                1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                  1sweetpea Dec 9, 2009 08:48 AM

                                                  Just an update to my own post more than a year ago. I was at Il Bun Ji last week and noticed that the menus have been updated. Kalbi is now available to be cooked at the table. There were other table cooking options as well, though I don't recall the details. My hwae dup bap was as delicious as ever, but my friend commented that her bi bim bap was a bit on the small side and had very little beef in it. I found the banchan to be on the tame side. In particular, the kimchi was very dry and not spicy at all. I do love that all meals begin with a small bowl of savoury rice porridge. It's a nice touch and a great way to curb the desire to overeat.

                                                  I keep meaning to try Korea House, but I somehow always wind up at Il Bun Ji. Can anyone recommend dishes at the more traditional Korean restaurants along Bloor St.?

                                                  1. re: 1sweetpea
                                                    c
                                                    cheapncheerful Dec 9, 2009 09:08 AM

                                                    I quite like Korea House- I'm fond of their kim chi jegae which is pretty traditional. They make their own dumplings and they're quite nice too- fried or steamed. Their side dishes are always excellent and plentiful too- they mix it up a bit.
                                                    Korea House doesn't get much space on CH, but for me, it's generally a great place for solid Korean fare.

                                          3. j
                                            Jax Nov 15, 2008 08:09 AM

                                            I'll put in my enthusiastic vote for Joon's on Bloor near Bathurst (also in north Koreatown, but I haven't tried that one). They serve tak kalbi (chicken in spicy sauce with cabbage, sweet potatoes and rice cake). You can add extras like cheese or more rice cakes, and it's cooked on a table top pan. Afterwards you can add rice with sesame oil to mix with leftover sauce and bits. They also have a few variations on the menu including a curry version, and a few other dishes. It's my go-to place for Korean food newbies, because it's what I ate when I was a newbie living in Seoul. Delish!

                                            -----
                                            Joons Restaurant
                                            605 Bloor W, Toronto, ON M6G1K5, CA

                                            Joons Restaurant
                                            4852 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M2N5N2, CA

                                            1. m
                                              mchuchra Oct 26, 2009 05:59 PM

                                              We really like Manna on Dundas West about halfway between Islington and Kipling. The owner / chef runs a great little shop, with emphasis on home style Korean food and hospitality.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mchuchra
                                                s
                                                Squiggles Oct 26, 2009 06:36 PM

                                                Check out the thread on Manna here - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/661286

                                              2. jlunar Oct 26, 2009 09:07 PM

                                                Ajuker on Bloor for K-fried chicken. Really good. 7-8 banchan. Also like the hot chicken. With a bowl of rice. So good! Open late.

                                                -----
                                                Afc Ajuker Canada
                                                680 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1L2, CA

                                                1. p
                                                  piru Dec 10, 2009 07:43 PM

                                                  I just tried this new place on k town in downtown, called Henna or Hanna Gom Tang, right across the korean grocery store, they have the best hand cut noodles on a beef broth thats been simmering for more than 24 hr called gom tang, and i had their sliced pork with spicy daikon on the side that you wrap on a nappa leaves!! the BEST i have ever tried.!!!! TRUST ME!
                                                  Gom tang is like the chicken noodle soup for koreans, if you need that extra boost for your body that is coming down with cold or flu, thats what they eat! and it taste so good!

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