After Baldwin Palace Restaurant closed, the space it vacated was originally meant to be a new Wild Wings franchise—but when the community successfully blocked the chain’s arrival five weeks ago, restaurateur Sang Kim (Ki, Blowfish) stepped in with a new proposal and started blogging all about it. On Saturday, just a little over 30 days later, Yakitori Bar opened to throngs of hungry students and locals, and Seoul Food Co., whose entrance is on McCaul, will be following suite in a couple weeks.
Yakitori Bar occupies the front part of the location and is decked out with the now-requisite barn wood, dark slate walls and black subway tiles, with TVs blaring Korean music videos. In the kitchen is chef Shin Aoyama, whose focus is, appropriately enough, on yakitori skewers, sold by the pair, with options like pork belly ($4.95), beef ribs ($5.95) and Hokkaido scallop ($6.25). There are also sides like a flight of kimchee ($3.95), with each type pickled for a different length of time, kimchee three ways ($4.95) and kimchee poutine ($5.95). For drinks, there are sake and soju cocktails, including a Gangnam Style cocktail ($7.07). There’s also the Yakitori Top Chef menu, which features specialty yakitori with recipes from Toronto chefs such as Francisco Alejandri (Agave y Aguacate), Rossy Earle (SupiCucu) and Matthew Basile (Fidel Gastro).
In the back of the space is Seoul Food Co., which will offer takeout Korean with a small stand-up bar for a quick meal. The space will include a bi bim bap bar, where customers can choose from types of rice, meat and vegetables, and another stand for Korean-inspired sandwiches made with bulgogi and kalbi. There will also be a small shop selling sauces and goods from local chefs, including SupiCucu’s hot sauce, Paula Costa’s Dragon’s Piri Piri and, naturally, Sang’s own Kickass Kimchee.