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Jan 23, 2010 11:25 AM

Good Korean Restaurants?!

This is Jamie, my first time posting here.
For months, I was never motivated to write here, but after reading a few posts for Korean restaurant recommendations in Toronto, I AM MOTIVATED.

To begin with, I would like to point out that there are actually VERY FEW Korean restaurants in this city that would actually do okay in Korea instead of shutting down.

Anyways, I would like to recommend a few restaurants that IMHO, does best job with representing -real K-like- foods.

I am Korean myself, and IMHO, there aren't any GOOD K-restaurants in Christie; most of them serve foods loaded with msg, tastes very much like those 24hr delivery foods in KR. Nothing more than packaged foods. And YES, Ka-Chi and Buk-Chang-Dong too. For those of you who disagrees with me with the MSG part, sorry, you are wrong, you just got too used to the taste of it. Oh wait, to be fair, Ive never gone to the area since late 2008, so ya, maybe there are new restaurants there now that are better. I doubt it though, my friends still comes back and regret why they make the same mistake over and over again.

Now, Yonge n Finch. Fortunately, there is one K-restaurant that makes me wanna go time to time when I am too lazy to cook. The place is called Mat-Na-Son, Ive seen people talking about the place in this forum, and yes, they do quite alrite. Good portion of meal, and unlike sometimes during last year, their banchans aren't bad at all these days. However, if you ever go there, do not order from BoonSik section of the menu and never order any noodles dish. They are terrible. Other than that, I have no complainments.

Now, ignore all other K-restaurants at Yonge n Finch because they only give you bad appetite, go a little north of Cummer, and on your left, you will find a restaurant with a greenflag hanging called WonJoSoonDooBu. I dont think they have an English name for the restaurant though, so you will have to recognize the place by the greenflag. It is a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, however, their food is quite homemade, the kind of taste you would get at countrysides of Korea. They serve their rice in stonepots, and yes, they taste helluva better than normal steamrice. I would recommend their 1. seafood rice in a stonepot, 2. soysauce or hotsauce marinated crab (my japanese friends loved the soy sauce crab), 3. bean-curd dregs stew (Biji), 4. seafood pancake, and 5. Stonepot Tofu soup. Becareful with #5 though, I like it A LOT better than Buk-Chang-Dong's but some people think it tastes too homemade or mild. Their banchans are dissapointing sometimes, but in general, the place is quite good.

Now..again, ignore all other K-restaurants from there up to Yonge n Steels..None are good unfortunately. Go a bit more north of Steels and I think it's about two blocks south or Redlobster there, on your left, you will see a restaurant called Cho-Sun-Ok. This restaurant has never failed me so far, they have good variety of banchans and they are clean, service is always kind, you dont have to call and ask for banchan refills, they come and ask! IMHO this place best represents Korean eateries of THIS KIND in Toronto. The only negative part about this place is, they often have Flo-Rida or SeanKingston kind of music playing, and they definately dont go with the place. I just LOL.

There are some more K-restaurants that I like, but I won't mention them because I dont think their foods appeal to the general appetite these days. You will prolly think they taste too mild. So, three recommendations from me, 1. ChoSunOk, 2. MatNaSon, and 3. WonJo, from the best to not best.

Please note that I only go to restaurants in downtown area and North York, I would love to hear about other good places.

Hope this post helps some people finding good K-eateries!

*If anyone is ought to share info on good Japanese restaurants, that would be great. I go to Zen, Ematei, and Le Cafe Michi a lot, and very rarely to Inakaya for ankimo and beer!

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  1. I went to MatNaSon tonight on the reco of our Korean family friends, it was very fast, we had seafood soon du bu jigae, the banchan were very simple and ok. A bit boring.
    The wait staff were so kind and attentive.
    But I found the number of tables roasting meat in such a small place made me feeling like choking at times..
    The pork sizzle was eventually grossing me out.
    We usually have to go to Seoul House on Dufferin because our kids are still fairly untrained to eat tasty food and Seoul House has enough on the menu they can eat without them complaining and their space is big enough I don't smell like I was at a bbq table.when we eat there. But I am told by my Korean friends that Seoul House uses msg and the owners changed so the food is not like it used to be.

    I will try Cho-Sun-Ok next time I can get someone to watch the kids.

    Does anybody go to Woo Rae Ook just off Jane and Black Creek Drive? We used ot eat there ages ago when it was Sam Wan.

    Really I could just live on the banchan at a good restaurant.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Idas

      Oh ya, I have forgot to warn the pork / miso smell in MatNaSon. Yes, you are right, a lot of people likes to fry pork there, and the smell of it tend to get overwhelming. I always leave the coat in my car before entering the restaurant.

      I have been to WooRaeOok just a couple of years ago, they served many banchans and they tasted quite alrite, however, ChoSunOk serves better foods IMO. Of all food places Ive mentioned, only MatNaSon has such smell, the others don't.

      If you are the kind of person who can just live on the banchan, you are better off going to ChoSunOk. These days they serve marinated sweet pumpkins, kimchi, pickled cabbage, pickled radish, bean-sprouts, Oden, miso-paste marinated eggplant, spinach, and a few more which I cant recall. They give you quite a lot for the price you pay.

      Anways, good luck finding a restaurant of your taste.

      1. re: JamieJamie

        By the way, are we sure Mat Na Son does not use MSG? After my Soon Du Bu soup, my mouth tasted 100 times more garliky for 8 hours after eating. This has never happened to me making it at home nor at Seoul House. Even my SO had the same experience.
        Love to try Cho Sun OK

        1. re: JamieJamie

          where exactly is cho sun ok located?

          1. re: junkie

            // Cho Sun Ok 7353 Yonge St., Thornhill

   -- food. is. love.

      2. Not to mention that cho sun ok's cold noodle... is sooooo good.

        1. Wonjo aka Traditional Korean Restaurant's soondobu isn't mild at all imo, it arrives often very spicy, but also a great depth of flavour. They do have a mild version that has no chlili paste at all, so the soup colour is light.

          I have to say Il Bun Ji on the downtown strip still does it for me. They serve the best rendition of chap chae I've encountered in the city.

          Chosunok I tend to only go to in the summer for the cold noodles.

          MatNaSon I've passed many a times but have never been for some reason. Usually I head to Oh Geul Boh Geul when I'm by that block.

          1. What do you think about Chodang Soon Tofu on Dundas? I love it - it's in my neighbourhood and they make their tofu on site.

            5 Replies
            1. re: aimee9

              Chodang is my favourite place for soondubu!! Blows all the ones on Christie St out of the water, imo

              1. re: aimee9

                Any vegetarian options? I'd love me some fresh tofu.

                1. re: piccola

                  I seem to recall some veggie options, but I can't remember the specifics. Even if they don't have one explicitly on the menu, I'm sure they'll be able to accommodate you!

                  1. re: ekim256

                    Great, I'll give it a shot! Thanks for the rec.

                    1. re: piccola

                      If you haven't tried Chodang Soon Tofu, I definately recommend it. They do have a mushroom option (I'm looking at their take-out menu) for their soon tofu bowls and their other menu items can be made vegetarian (i.e. tabled cooked stews and bento box). The exact address is 5130A Dundas Street West. There was a steady stream of diners for a Thursday night - a great sign! Hope this place continues to do well.

              2. Has anyone gone to Woo Rae Ouk "Woo-Rae-Ouk" recently?
                1357 Weston Road
                Toronto, ON M6M 4R9
                (416) 241-8777
                We used to eat there weekly when it was San Wan and even when it changed to Woo Rae Ook for quite some time.
                It had amazing banchan dishes and their food never ever had msg back in the day (at times hard to find in today's resto's). And their kim makes me sigh...
                It is just off Jane St. and Weston (yeah, not the poshest area but the food made us go there often). It is because they were closed one day that we discovered Golden Crisp, IMHO the best fish and chip shop in Toronto (If you don't have issues with lard useage).