Good Korean spot along Yonge St.
I'm looking for a decent Korean restaurant along the Yonge line. I know there are a lot near the Yonge & Finch area, but don't know which one is good. I've tried OWL, and I think that place is OKAY (good for late night though since it is open 24hrs). Does anyone have any suggestions??
I'm not really looking for any specific dish, but if you can suggest, that would be great! =D
I was just about to reply and say I wouldn't recommend Joons!
I just tried it last week for the first time. I was hopeful and it looked promising since almost all the tables were filled and this place was recommended when I was asking about a ddakgalbi place in town. I just spent 7 months in Korea and I ate this at least twice a week since it was one of my favorite dishes. Funny enough, I never tried it in Toronto before I went to Korea, didn't even know it existed!
We ordered the ddakgalbi with cheese and noodle.
They bring the raw ingredients (cabbage, chicken, and carrot sticks instead of the listed sweet potato) to the table and cook it on the tabletop. Their grill heat isn't high enough, even though it's set on high, because the dish becomes watery. Their sauce, although spicy hot, is missing a lot of the spices that makes ddakgalbi sooo good. I don't know exactly what goes into it, but it was missing a lot of the flavour that real ddakgalbi sauce should have. Traditionally, it should also be served with a big pile of greens to wrap the food so you can pop it into your mouth. So, overall I wasn't too impressed with Joon's
I like Nakwon on the southwest corner of Yonge and Finch. They have a good goat stew dish called yeomsotang that I haven't found anywhere else. They also do table cooking, but it's about $40/2ppl.
Buk Chang Dong on Yonge St. south of Finch is a modest resto - an offshoot of the original Buk Chang Dong on Bloor St. near the Christie subway station - with just six or seven menu items, most of them soups/stews priced at $8 (taxes included). I find it eminently satisfying every time I go, when it's invariably crowded - as is the downtown location - with Koreans living in the nearby condos. Indeed, my table is usually the only one that's not Korean. Referring to CoffeeAddict416's above complaint about substandard food at many Korean restaurants, I knoweth not where Buk Chang Dong stands in such a pecking order. But the locals seem to love it, and I find the dishes - which I suspect are little more than basic Korean nourishment - mighty tasty and filling. Nothing fancy, mind, but service is brisk and professional, and the joint is overall kind of fun. Someone's momma could doubtless do it better, but I don't know someone's momma well enough to ask her to do Korean for me. Besides, someone's momma can ALWAYS do it better - my momma could do brisket and cabbage borscht better than any deli on earth. But momma's gone now, so I make do with Caplansky's, Pancer's and Centre Street Deli instead.
The only beef I have with Buk Chang Dong uptown is that it's hard to find free parking nearby (I maintain free parking is a civil right) and the Green Hornets - or whatever they're called nowadays - are ruthlessly rigorous up there on Yonge St. I once saw one wheel up to the block Buk Chang Dong occupies at about 8:50 p.m. - 10 minutes before parking becomes free on Yonge St. - and start writing tickets. It was enough to almost put me off my feed.
it's been a while since i've been to buk chang dong uptown but if memory serves me, there are a few free spots at the back of this restaurant, you have to go up one of the side streets and then turn into the alleyway to get to the back of the resto - most of those korean restos lining yonge st have a few free spots behind their resto and u can walk in the back door.
buk chang dong does rank pretty high in terms of soon tofu stew places in t.o.: they're reliable, consistent and cheap. i have to say (only partly tongue-in-cheek) that it is a favourite pastime of many a korean in t.o. to eat at a korean resto then come out complaining about the food ;-) --- i accuse my parents of doing this but realize i'm as guilty as they... you are right, most korean mommas can do it better than these places but there is a generally accepted 'rule' (for lack of a better word) that the more side dishes, the better the meal as the korean meal revolves around the accompaniments to the rice (whether you are a visitor in a home or a patron at a restaurant) and none of the korean restos in t.o. really live up to that cultural standard we've grown up with so many a korean walk out feeling less than 'welcomed' ....
yes i'm guilty too of making the dissing of korean restos a hobby!
That said I feel like i should contribute something positive.
Ka Chi in Kensington i always mention as the best korean resto i've been to for their specific items. Their potato and rice flour pancakes are a bit greasy but totally loaded with ingredients. That's the way it should be!
Their soon tofu is great too. When i get a hankering for some i would go there in a second.
In the yonge/bloor korean resto scene I have only been to Oja Noodle house I think it is. It was pretty decent. My friend had the kalbi and I thought it was a bit too sweet but they use thte "emperor" cut which is always good (although i've never seen "cali" cut at a resto except at AYCE korean bbq).
I had ... soon tofu. I use this dish as a measure of the entire restaurant (if they have it on the menu). And it was pretty good there too. I actually found bits and pieces of dried anchovies at the bottom which is always a good sign that stock was made with good ingredients. They also had a good amount of ingredients in there including nice bright fresh greens and a raw egg thrown on top to finish.
The reason i use soon tofu as a guideline? It's dead simple to make but requires care and attention to details to make. It's like maybe.... bouillabaisse? Soooooo good when done correctly but soooooo bad when done poorly.
cofeeaddict, my mom and i would have to agree with your last comment but would say that most korean food - not just soon tofu - is quite simple, in ingredients as well as technique ....the difference comes out in the care taken with preparation.....while that may apply to other cuisines, i'd say that most of korean cuisine does not rely on use of really 'rare' things like shark fin, dried-for-many-years abalone, etc like chinese cuisine, so it is quite feasible to do it right here in canada, if only the care were there!
I like Witches Table (Yonge and Wellsley), but don't get the sushi, stick to the Korean food. There's a lot of Korean BBQ places, too, like Korean Gril House at Bloor and at Dundas, and also Grill Time, at Yonge and College. There's another Korean place Yummy's near Yonge and Wellsley, but I've never been. These aren't as authentic as the ones near bloor and bathurst, but they are on the yonge line.
I wouldn't call them not "authentic" but the caliber of cooking is lower than other places. But overall I think the caliber of Korean cooking in this town is pretty abysmal especially when you consider just how many Korean people live here.
Korean food for the most part isn't even that difficult to make. It's like Italian food in that you just need really really fresh ingredients and you can make stuff taste fantastic. Most places i think skimp on their ingredients because it affects their bottom line. The thing is it wuld cost just a tiny bit more to use better product but most places don't seem to wanna go the extra mile.
I think it has something to do with the mindset of Torontonians in general WRT to food. People would rather eat mediocre food for cheap than pay a bit more and get quality food.
One example of a place I thought was great but failed because I think it was too "expensive" was Ninth Gate near the st lawrence. Now i heard for the most part the food wasn't great but when i went early in it's life i thought the food was prepared very well! Prices were about 25-50% more than say bloor street but I can imagine that would induce a lot of sticker shock in people used to paying a lot less for Korean food. It would be akin to someone used to say swatow prices and then expecting the same price at say Pearl.
My disclaimer is that I'm korean and I'm a pretty harsh judge of korean food only because it's a big part of my life. I also see food through the filter of home cooking from my mom, my aunts, and my late grandmother so i could be judging places a little unfairly!
I also realize my rant is a bit all over the place. My apologies!
i have to concur with CoffeeAddict416 about the appalling calibre of korean cuisine in this town -- altho i think i'd lay the blame mostly on the korean restaurant owner/operators in t.o. (not torontonians in general, bc i can well think of many who would be willing to pay the price for a quality meal) - most of the resto owners/operators are not chefs by training nor have extensive restaurant experience. the cuisine offered here is uninspired and lack the range of what you'd find in seoul, or even other parts of asia (so i'm told by friends who have had better korean food in hong kong than in toronto)
seeing the evolution of the foodcourt at Galleria gives me some hope that in the not too distant future we may see more creative korean restos here that offer more than the usual list of stews and grills....