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Ka Chi Korean Restaurant- Shocking, unbelievably rude service!

Let me preface story this with a few points:

1) I like the food at Ka Chi. I've eaten at many of the Korean eateries around Christie and I think that it stands up pretty well.

2) I don't particularly care about service. Growing up, when my family ate out, we ate mostly at the sort of reasonably priced Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants where the maxim “bad atmosphere, good food” often holds true. My mom grew up in Singapore raised us to enjoy tasty, unpretentious food.

3) I don't make a habit of complaining on the internet (and I don't post on these forums very often.) I find it heartbreaking when a restaurant gets an overly terrible review that lingers on the internet like slow poison. Take this post as a sign of how angry I am.

So, myself and a very good long-time friend were enjoying a meal at the Ka Chi. I don't think that we were eating particularly slowly but we were chatting and enjoying each other's company. I still had soup in my bowl, when one of the waiters came up to us and suggested we should leave because the restaurant was full and he wanted to seat new diners. We both found this incredibly rude but we cut short our conversation and started to leave.

My friend paid the bill but did not leave a tip. I don't recall ever not leaving a tip but I would have done the same in this case. The man running the place was so upset about this that, as we were leaving, he YELLED at us (somewhat redundantly) “Get out of here! Get out of here! Don't ever come back!”, and so forth until we were out the door.

Let me just me be clear that neither us was rude to anybody. The bill was paid and we had every right not to tip-- many people, I think, would have done the same. In other words, we did nothing that deserved being yelled at in front of a crowded restaurant as if we had done something illegal. It was the sort of experience that ruins an evening.

Anyway, the next time you go out for Korean food around Christie, you might consider patronizing one of the many other restaurants that aren't run by psychos.

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  1. Pity! You should have recorded the whole incidence and post it on Youtube!

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA I'm sorry, I"m sure it wasn't funny but same thing happened to my friend at another restaurant before and I'm always amused at the audacity of some people.

      Ah I can kinda understand about the waiter situation though, cause if there was a lot of people waiting they'll probably really pissed off so I'll probably get some people to leave quicker, I don't know how he talked to you though.

      But wow that man. I'm used to cheap Asian places and I'm a bit shocked. I'll stick to the one near Chinatown...

      1. I'm in a minority here, perhaps only me, but I've always felt Ka-Chi is overrated, I've never understood its loyal following. I've eaten at both locations several times, after the first it was against my better judgement, but having faith in CH, I've returned several times to see if I was missing something, I wasn't.
        My issues aren't with service; it's neither good nor bad , just kids with part-time jobs. The problem for me is the food. It's nothing special at all, the banchan are served in sample size quantity and whenever I've ordered a meat dish, the paucity of the meat is appalling. The last time I went to the one in Kensington, I ordered a beef bibimbap and there was no meat to be seen. I almost sent it back thinking the server had misunderstood me and had sent a vegetarian version by mistake. It wasn't until, after much excavation, I found the gram of beef that I realized I was "wrong".

        3 Replies
        1. re: ziggystardust

          I'm with you! I think Ka Chi is way overrated.
          Strangely, much of the staff at the Koreatown location is Chinese, and in my limited experience the place seems to be way more popular with Chinese diners than Korean ones (I speak Chinese and some Korean). When I began to stare at staff speaking Chinese, one quickly switched to Korean. But basically my sense has been that Ka-Chi serves Korean food for a Chinese clientele.
          When I've been, the food was OK (except for the worst kimchee I've eaten in my life), the food spicy but not flavorful (unlike the soondubu place 2-3 doors West of Ka-Chi), and so loaded with MSG I nearly passed out.
          No more Ka-Chi for me!

          1. re: plumsauce

            Whether it's Chinese, Japanese or Korean owned, I don't know what race has to do with this. I just went to Zen for Japanese Sushi and ~80% of the clientele were Chinese, including 2 of the 3 sushi chefs behind the bar and they serve one of the best sushi in the city regardless of the race of the clientele or staff.

            1. re: syoung

              Yeah, who cares what ethnic background the ownership or cooks or clientele come from. Totally irrelevant and not sure why it would be mentioned like this.

              Also, I'm extremely sensitive to MSG, and I've never had any sort of reaction at Ka-Chi.

        2. Was it the younger guy with very good english? Everytime I've been there he's been the server and can't imagine that could happen. To be honest it sounds like we are hearing only one side of the story. I am definitely not a so called "ka chi loyalist".

          Could it be possible your friend had some choice words with the guy when paying the bill?

          1 Reply
          1. re: szw

            Honestly, no. My friend is not a "choice words" kind of person. The guy asked him why he didn't leave a tip, he said something like "we were hardly done eating" and then buddy hit the roof.
            It probably wasn't the person you are thinking of. It was an older gentleman.
            Anyway, It seems to me that if your restaurant is full, you should count your blessings rather than pushing people out the door. It's not like we were really taking our time. I don't recall there being a lot of people waiting.

            ziggystardust - where do you go for Korean?

          2. Ka Chi is very mediocre to me too. Though I like going to Ajuker for their fried chicken and hot chicken. It really depends on your dish, I guess!

            Ka Chi
            612 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

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

            1 Reply
            1. re: jlunar

              Agreed Ka Chi actually made my wife nearly pass out due to the MSG. She's korean too. I had hives all over my body. I know MSG is sort of unavoidable at Korean and Chinese places but neither of us have experienced it quite like at Ka Chi.

            2. That's terrible! I've also experienced bad service at Ka Chi, though at the one in Chinatown.

              My boyfriend has an onion allergy and had asked for his dish to have no onions. They didn't cook with the onions but when his food was ready, they plated it on a bed of white onions (geniuses, aren't they?). My boyfriend still couldn't eat it and said as much. They told him that they didn't cook with onions, he doesn't have to eat the onions, therefore, they did nothing wrong. They flat-out refused to remove the cost of the dish and said any replacement dishes would also be charged at full price. Ridiculous.

              1. Apollo; I'm afraid I haven't had much luck with Korean food in Toronto. The best I've had so far is at Yummy BBQ at Bloor/Bathurst. The good news there is the food is good, quantity is ample and the price is reasonable. The bad news is that it's lacking in atmosphere as it's basically a cafeteria kind of fast food place. I don't want to hijack your post but I've posted myself about finding a decent Korean place downtown. My situation is I have a friend who's never tried Korean food and wants to, I've thought of Yummy but the atmosphere isn't too nice, others recommended Ka-Chi but I'm too embarrassed to take him there as it's a rip off and they do tend to rush you out. So on behalf of both of us, any good Korean places downtown NOT including Ka-Chi?

                11 Replies
                1. re: ziggystardust

                  there is a Miga location under contruction on Bloor at Palmerston. It was dormant for many months, perhaps because of the recession. I've never been to the one in Mississauga but I heard its good. I live close by so looking forward to it.

                  1. re: ziggystardust

                    I stopped going to that location of Yummy BBQ after I had an odd reaction to a meal there. Might have been unrelated, because I went there a lot before with no problems, but I'm not taking any chances.

                    1. re: ziggystardust

                      Why not Joons for dak galbi, or Buk Chang Dong for soon tofu or bibimbap? They're both tasty, friendly (in my experience), and i think good for introducing someone to Korean food. You can get decent bbq and fuller menus around there too (Mirak and Mulraebang around the corner on Christie), although the best places are up north.

                      1. re: rks

                        Mul Rae Bang-A is now on Bloor, just east of Christie. I know because I tried to have my birthday there, and its now a Tim Hortons.

                        Instead we went to Il Bun Ji and had a below average meal, but a fun time on account of the large private dining booths.

                        I like Korean Village, but its hit and miss.

                        1. re: Everythingtarian

                          Ah, haven't been there in a bit I guess. I still prefer my first two recs though...I like the places that mainly specialize in one particular thing. Restaurants in korea tend to be that way.

                        2. re: rks

                          Thanks, I think I'll give Buk Chang Dong a try.

                        3. re: ziggystardust

                          I'm not a Korean connaisseur, but I had a nice meal at San on Queen

                          1. re: clamnectar

                            Funny. I had dinner last night at Il Bun Ji and although my hwae dup bap was as good as ever, my friend noted that her bi bim bap contained less meat and was a bit of a stingy serving compared to cheaper places on the strip. I was also a bit disappointed with the banchan selection and quality. The kimchi was particularly weak. What places along Bloor do a better than average job with bibimbap and other standards? What about hwae dup bap (mixed salad with diced sashimi and a drizzle of roasted sesame oil -- rice and spicy-sweet gochu jang sauce served on the side)?

                            I'll definitely avoid Ka-Chi after reading this thread. With so many Korean restaurants in the area, there's no reason on earth to subject myself to abuse from staff and owners for lingering a few extra minutes after a tasty meal with a companion. It's also my prerogative whether or not to tip and how much.

                            1. re: clamnectar

                              I can't recommend San. Wed I was there for the 3rd time ever and again disappointed.

                              The meals I've had there incl the seafood tofu soup, the bulgogi dinner box and the beef soup with vermicelli.

                              I've found the meat always tough and the seafood to be mostly the little bits from the bottom of a frozen bag. The soups are also really salty.

                              A dining companion tried the fried chicken in sweet sauce and didn't like the coating or the sauce.

                              The boiled dumpling appetizer was the only thing that seemed alright, though small in portion to price.

                              1. re: chocabot

                                Didn't San change hands a while back?...Marimba!

                                1. re: Marimba

                                  it did. i have only visited during the new ownership.

                          2. I've been to both locations of Ka Chi. The one at Christie, i have tried their mandoo, pork bone soup, bulgogi and squid on rice dishes without any issue, except I did find they were skimpy with the meat. this other time i tried some ramen dish that turned me off the place. haven't been back to that location since. I've been to the Kensington location for lunch a few times this past year and it's been fine. I've never seen it packed so never felt rushed. I don't live in the downtown area anymore, but my default korean fix used to be Umji Bunshik/Two Thumbs (across the street). It's a smaller, more humble looking establishment but has more of a homey feel to the place and you can see the ladies hard at work in the kitchen there. I always ordered the bulgogi or bulgogi/squid on rice, and the meat portions were fairly generous. I also had the mandoo in soup which tasted like it was homemade. They only gave one or two small banchan but the entrees were good enough that it could be overlooked. I haven't been there in at least 3 years so I don't know what it's like now. I'm not defending Ka Chi's rude treatment but most of these small korean restos in the christie/bloor area with sub $7 meals tend to be like fast food, just eat and go. Not for lingering.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: wizenhymmer

                              This is shocking. KaChi on Bloor & Palmerston is my go to Korean place. I've only ever had good experiences here with the food and the service, nothing to write home about. They bring out the food and clean up after you. Good enough for me! Never been rushed out but I do know exactly which man the original poster was talking about. He looks like he can be a bit of a dck.

                              Umji Bunshik used to be a great place but after the last time there (about 2 years ago), I would never go back. Brought some out of towners for some authentic korean food and it was horrible. We ordered 5 different dishes and all were quite bland. Pretty embarrassing after raving about the restaurant!

                              1. re: hotsauce28

                                Honestly, I agree. I continue to go to the Palmerston Ka-Chi frequently, and I love it. I've also been to many of the other places mentioned here… also good.

                                A couple of things I will concede. Ka Chi is extremely stingy with the protein in their bibimbaps and a few other dishes. HOWEVER, many of their other dishes, indeed most dishes there, have a veritable ABUNDANCE of meat. Which makes their stinginess with the bibimbaps very curious, and yes, frustrating. Stinginess aside I think those dishes are still very good, and I like ordering them. That said, many other Korean places are also light on the protein in bibimbaps. Perhaps this is a normal aspect for this particular dish? I have no idea. But could be, given other Korean places seem to follow a similar MO with bibimbap.

                                As to the OP's experience. The owner, who is very nice to me, is kind of nutty. He is very sensitive to people loitering. I think this is fairly justifiable as Ka-Chi is very small and always packed with long lines. If I had to watch countless people leisurely savour a $7.95 bowl for 2 blissfully unaware hours at the expense of turning a table I would probably become irritated after a while too. In fact, I know I would. And I’d be right. Add to this the fact that the owner is absolutely a bit loopy, the OP's experience does not surprise me. Also, my guess is the OP probably stayed longer than they are recalling. I wasn’t there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the stay was considerably longer than they believe it was. And if that is the case, common customer courtesy says you really can’t milk a cheapo meal when there are people out the door and the owners must seat them to keep them happy and make money. You just can’t. But again, I wasn’t there, so I don’t know.

                                One thing is certain, staff, be it a manager or owner or whoever does not have the right to treat a customer this way over this kind of thing - if this is what indeed happened. It's not bright, and not cool.

                                Is Ka-Chi the best for Korean? No. But it is a damn serviceable restaurant and I'm not sure where all the hate comes from.

                            2. Magic; I can't speak for the others but I think you're exciting yourself by using the word "hate". I don't hate it, I just think it's overhyped mediocrity and not good value.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ziggystardust

                                Well semantics aside I think the general feeling towards Ka-Chi is one of dislike. Certainly on Chowhound. Which is fine, we all are entitled to our opinions right. Call it hate or whatever word you feel comfortable with, my point is that I'm saddened about the general lack of love Ka-Chi receives on the boards. Over hyped? I think you'll find, if you do some searches, Ka-Chi is definitely not over hyped. Many, if not most comments, are pretty negative. Thus my question. I'm not that excited really, just wondering and expressing an opinion as we all are. No? I'm as cool as pickled cucumber my friend :)

                                1. re: magic

                                  Point taken Magic, and thanks for your reply, but I must disagree; in my experience previous to this thread, most of what I've read has been positive about Ka Chi. As you quite rightly say, we're all entitled to our opinion. If you like it, do continue to support it. Sadly, we'll not meet up there to debate the relative merits of the place.

                              2. I've had similar experiences at restaurants around Christie, but sadly these experiences seem to happen at many Korean restaurants in GTA. I find your experience at a Korean restaurant solely relies on whether or not you are Korean (or at the very least speak it fluently).

                                I had a terrible experience at a Korean restaurant called Yuki by Yorkdale mall on Dufferin. The waitress wouldn't refill our 3 side dishes (she said "it's money"). Funny thing, my dad speaks fluent Korean (I don't speak a word) and any time we had been there with him, we were served more than 6 types of side dishes, refills-no problem, and smiles to boot. I told her this, she rolled her eyes at me, and gave us just the kimchi refill, and left the other 2 dishes empty. We weren't rushed out like you were at Ka-Chi, but still the feeling of bad service just seems so common with Korean restaurants.

                                I have the joy of experiencing two types of Korean service. One with a Korean speaker and one without. Trust me, it's way better with. No comparison. If the situation were reversed and all "non-English" speakers were treated poorly at Western restaurants why... it's inconveivable!

                                Sadly, I have yet to find a Korean restaurant in the GTA that doesn't discriminate based on what language you speak.

                                1. I finally tried Buk Chang Dong last week. Thanks for the recs, I won't be revisiting Ka Chi again, and I've found a nice, authentic place to take my Korean food newbie friend. For those who haven't tried it, it's great Korean food served at a reasonable price. Something I really liked about it and other restaurants could learn from; they only have maybe ten items on the menu. There's something to be said for focusing on your strengths in a few dishes rather than trying to serve absolutely everything under the sun as many other restaurants make the mistake of doing.

                                  1. I've never had issues with the service at Ka Chi, but I don't go very often. I'd love to try other Korean restaurants, except so few have vegetarian options. Anyone know any veggie-friendly Korean places?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: piccola

                                      Buk Chang Dong, mentioned above, has, among its narrow half-dozen or so menu choices, one veggie option, which I invariably order when I find myself in the neighborhood. Very tasty. Always good service. It's my go-to Korean spot out that way, and its uptown sibling on north Yonge St., also named Buk Chang Dong, is where I go when I'm hankering for Korean north of Sheppard Ave. Both are consistently good.

                                      1. re: juno

                                        Hey, thanks! What's the lone veggie option?

                                        1. re: piccola

                                          probably the vegetarian bibimbap. I think they might also have a veg "SoonDubu" at Buk Chang.

                                          1. re: hotsauce28

                                            The one vegetarian choice at Buk Chang Dong is, as hotsauce28 has observed, a vegetable soon tofu, a substantial soup/stew surrounded by four side dishes, and priced at $8, taxes included. One of the most satisfying deals in that part of town. I don't think I recall seeing a vegetarian bibimbap listed on the menu, though, as hotsauce28 has also suggested - but then, it has been a month or two since I was last in the place. Maybe they'll whip up that dish only upon request. Most dishes on the menu come in at $8, taxes included, a price that hasn't changed in years, though the portions seem to have shrunk very slightly recently. But still, a helluva good deal.

                                            1. re: juno

                                              Yes, Juno you're right. They don't have a veg bibimbap on the menu. My g/f always asked for it specifically without the meat and it's never a problem.

                                              Depending on the server, sometimes there a language issue but for the most part, they get it right.

                                              1. re: juno

                                                Oh, good -- I was hoping it was the tofu! I'll give it a shot for sure.

                                      2. I went to Ka Chi last week, and while the food was okay, the service was deplorable. I never, ever take the time to complain about restaurants...it's got to be REALLY bad for me to write about it, so when I looked up Ka Chi and found your review...it was like my story all over again.....

                                        My friend and I get to the restaurant and sit outside at the patio. We waited about 15 minutes for our friend and during this time, the waiter came over at least 5 times asking us if we were really expecting someone. Once the friend arrived, the owner came out and told us to order immediately . His words were, "stop wasting time and order."

                                        When we finished eating, my two friends were going over photos of a recent trip to Europe. I could see the owner from inside, speaking in Korean and waving at us. He made a waiter come out and tell us we needed to pay right away. I put down $20 and waited for my friends to pay. The owner thought we had all paid and he came over to take the money. When I told him we hadn't all paid yet, he became even more angry and waited for everyone to pay the tab. When he was about to walk away with the money, I told him that he was being very rude. He agreed that he was rude, but he said we were even more rude because we were wasting time in his restaurant. He said if we were eating hundreds of dollars worth of food, it would be okay to linger, but we weren't. I told him I was never coming back to the restaurant, and he said, "please don't come back, any of you, I don't want to see any of you again. Leave now, leave right now." He repeated this about 12 times or so. Everyone on the patio was staring and couldn't figure out what was going on. We couldn't even leave from the front door. We had to go out the back way like criminals. I was shaking as we left. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

                                        Apollo, I wish I had read your review before I went there.....

                                        Ka Chi
                                        612 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Giulia_F

                                          I'm surprise this place still lives..

                                          I am so annoyed and bothered about my recent visit to Ka Chi that I'm determined to deter as many people as possible from going there.

                                          Last Friday, a friend of mine and I dined at Ka Chi. The food was acceptable (my standards are not incredibly high) and for the most part, the wait staff were prompt and accurate with our orders (but certainly not friendly). After our meal, we signaled for the bill and waited, and waited, and waited for it to come. We didn't mind since the restaurant was relatively busy but after waiting almost 15-20 minutes we decided to just pay at the counter (which is common for some Asian places and we had also paid at the front at Ka Chi before as well). When we arrived at the cashier, the owner was in the middle of an intense argument with one of the waiters who served us. He was berating him in Korean but kudos to the waiter who kept snapping back. From my very broken Korean, I gathered that the owner had given another table the wrong bill but was determined to make his waiter admit to it.

                                          In any event, my friend and I looked at each other and started talking about where we should head to for dessert. After waiting another 10 minutes (I can attest to the full 10 minutes of standing since I was getting worried about our parking meter), both the owner and the waiter still did not acknowledge our presence. I proceeded to clear my throat and suggest that we only wanted to pay the bill and get on our merry way. The owner, in a state of complete fury, turned to me and began yelling: "Shut up! Shut up! We are very busy right now!" he exclaimed. I couldn't believe it .. I was so taken aback that I started laughing! But that only infuriated the owner even more. He began yelling even louder "Stop laughing! Shut up! I said shut up! Stop talking and stop laughing! Can't you see how busy we are? I said shut up!" At that point, I just wanted to get out of there. The neighboring tables were looking at him but he was completely undeterred in his anger. The waiter finally pulled out our bill and we dropped our money and left. Unbelievable.

                                          All I can say is that I can't see myself ever dining there again.

                                          Ka Chi
                                          612 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G1K7, CA

                                          1. re: mettle

                                            Maybe it's all part of an unannounced floor show at Ka Chi. It's entirely possible: easily-annoyed proprietor whimsically berates random customers, like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld, for the amusement - and astonishment - of other customers. And no cover charge. Alas, I've never been treated to such fun and games in my infrequent visits to Ka Chi, perhaps because I usually turn up for lunch, when it's not too busy. And then I leave almost immediately after eating - because you eat at Ka Chi, you most definitely do not dine. Perhaps next time I'll dawdle a little, just to see what transpires in the entertainment department.

                                            But if I want a more serene atmosphere, I'll trot a couple blocks west to Buk Chang Dong, where the food's more consistent, and the clientele more mature - and some of whom look like they wouldn't take too kindly to any proprietor who might try to include them in the floor show.

                                            Even better, I now mostly take Korean sustenance at Cho Sun OK (a tip I picked up on this board), way, way north on Yonge St. at Clark (some blocks north of Steeles Ave.), where the menu is somewhat more imaginative - a killer cold noodle dish is on offer - the banchan are promptly refilled and the serving staff are charming, even to non-Koreans like me.

                                            Agreed, it's a safari for the younger, non-car-driving customers of Bloor St. W. eateries. Which is just as well, I suppose. Because the place is invariably busy and it's hard enough as it is to secure a table at dinner. Still, if you should get up there somehow, think of all the fun you're missing at Ka Chi, where the customer is always wrong.