Korean

The Dish

Restaurants

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The owner of Playa Cabana is bringing Korean-Mexican fusion to Bloor West

Dave Sidhu

Sidhu outside Playa Cabana Hacienda (Image: Cara Habayeb)

Playa Cabana owner Dave Sidhu is stretching the Mexican mold with Barrio Coreano, a new Korean-inspired taqueria set to open at 642 Bloor West in the fall. The announcement follows the launch of rival taqueria La Carnita’s new Americana-themed restaurant Home of the Brave and comes just a month after the opening of Playa Cabana Hacienda, the third location of Sidhu’s trendy taco chain. The new taqueria will serve some familiar Playa standards, plus Korean-Mexican dishes like tacos stuffed with kalbi beef and gochujang fried chicken. [PostCity]     




The Dish

Food Events

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Chefs from A-OK and Buca teamed up to create an ultra-trendy Korean mash-up at l’Ouvrier

Jang-Do Dinner at L'Ouvrier

(Image: Renée Suen)

Fusion used to be a dirty word in culinary circles, shorthand for chintzy, ill-conceived dishes that subbed gimmickry for taste. Now, in the post-Momofuku era, trendy new restaurants are once again serving shamelessly inauthentic—but often delicious—east-meets west concoctions: Mexican tortas stuffed with bulgogi, fried chicken drenched in gochujang and bowls of ramen spiked with Cheez Whiz. On Monday, chef Chris Jang from A-OK Foods and Buca sous-chef Yong Soo Do took over the kitchen at l’Ouvrier on Dundas West to serve a hyper-modern Korean feast inflected with French, Italian and Canadian flavours and techniques. The result: ricotta-tofu panna cotta, watermelon rind kimchee and chilled ramen laced with black garlic and chocolate. Here, a slideshow of the six-course meal.

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The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Oddseoul, the Korean hipster dive from the brothers behind Swish

Oddseoul’s Korean cheesesteak (Image: Megan Leahy)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Oddseoul  1 star½
90 Ossington Ave.

From Leeto and Leemo Han, the brothers behind Swish by Han in the Financial District, comes this new Ossington dive. It follows a winning formula: deliciously junky Asian-American bar snacks, cheap tall cans, bourbon cocktails and a ragged dining room.

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The Dish

New Reviews

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Review: Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food, Baldwin Street’s two-in-one Korean restaurant

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

SEE ALL NEW REVIEWS
Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food  1 star½
1 Baldwin St., 647-748-0083
yakitoribar.ca

Restaurateur Sang Kim helped bring clubby Asian food to Toronto in the early oughties at Blowfish and Ki. Now he’s gone lo-fi with his two-in-one spot on Baldwin: Yakitori Bar, specializing in Korean kebabs, occupies the front of the room, while Seoul Food, a takeout stand, is in the back.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Korean fried chicken pop-up Dubon is coming to Baldwin Village in early April

(Image: Dubon Chicken)

A new pop-up restaurant called Dubon Chicken is taking over Elle M’a Dit on April 8, 9 and 10 to serve its take on the latest trend in fried poultry: Korean fried chicken. Dubon’s wings are twice-fried, brushed with either soy garlic or hot pepper sauce and served with pickled daikon and slaw (former Sen5es executive chef Vincent Leung consulted on the recipes). Should the pop-up prove successful (and the trend sufficiently long-lasting), look for Dubon to open a permanent restaurant down the road. [Dubon Chicken]

The Dish

Must-Try

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Must-Try: the Bulgogi Torta from A-OK Foods, a Mexican-Korean spin on a fast food classic

Monday Must-Try: A-OK Burger

The fundamental insight behind the addictive Bulgogi Torta from A-OK Foods: few sandwiches are as satisfying as a good, old-fashioned Big Mac. For this cheeky Mexican-Korean creation, chef Chris Jang stuffs sweet grilled rib-eye, a healthy dollop of guacamole and shredded lettuce inside a mayo-slicked Wonder Bread bun, along with a little melted provolone (bracing house pickles are on the side). The resulting sandwich is sweet, salty and fatty, and it melts in your mouth just like the McDonald’s original. Unlike the McDonald’s burger, however, there’s no gastronomical shame associated with ordering it. $7.50

A-OK Foods, 930 Queen St. W., second floor, 647-352-2243, aokfoods.ca, @AOKfoods

The Dish

Recipes

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Recipe: Pork buns from Swish by Han, a down-and-dirty Korean take on the trendy snack

Recipe: Pork buns
Toronto Life Recipes | Brunch
PORK BUNS
By Leemo and Leeto Han
Swish by Han

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The Informer

Events

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The Weekender: Super Bowl XLVII Party, Tristan und Isolde and five other items on our to-do list

Ben Heppner as Tristan before a projection by Bill Viola in the COC’s production of Trisan und Isolde (Image: Michael Cooper)

1. KUUMBA (FREE!)
Harbourfront kicks off Black History Month with the 17th edition of its annual Kuumba festival (“kuumba” means “creativity” in Swahili). Highlights include a would-be 10th anniversary celebration for the recently departed Trane Studio, a performance by soul and spoken word artist Dwayne Morgan and The Story Of Lover’s Rock, a documentary about the titular British reggae genre. There’s also storytelling, dance workshops and drum circles where kids can learn about the history of various instruments. February 1–3. Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000, harbourfrontcentre.com

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The Dish

Trend Watch

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Trend we Love: Philly cheese steak, spotted in low- and middlebrow incarnations

The traditional cheese steak from I Went to Philly, and OddSeoul’s Koreanized version

Those who’ve grown weary of sanctimonious locavorism will welcome the sudden ubiquity of the Philly cheese steak on Toronto menus. The greasy cafeteria staple, in its traditional incarnation, is an oozing mountain of sliced rib-eye, grilled vegetables, hot peppers and Cheez Whiz piled into a squishy bun. It arrives on red checked paper, sends a rivulet of dribbling cheese down your shirtfront and defiantly flaunts its lowbrow junk factor in the face of fresh-and-local ideals. Here are some of the traditional and revamped versions we’ve spotted on menus around the city of late:

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: OddSeoul, the new Ossington Korean restaurant from the brothers behind Swish by Han

Introducing: OddSeoul

(Image: Megan Leahy)

Hot on the heels of Rock Lobster’s opening, brothers Leemo and Leeto Han have launched Ossington’s newest restaurant, OddSeoul. Those acquainted with their popular Wellington Street American-Korean restaurant Swish by Han will find the hip-hop and reclaimed wood aesthetic familiar, but instead of serving downtown lunchers, OddSeoul is pegged as a place for a night out, complete with mood lighting and bar-height communal tables. Most of the decor was sourced from a friend’s dad’s junkyard, including a host of ’90s boom boxes, a glowing red “Prescriptions” sign and an old Olympic diving board cut down to a bar shelf. The food is of similarly mongrel origins: the Hans are not about pretty plates, but instead try to elevate Korean staples with global flavours.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co., a pair of new restaurants on the corner of Baldwin and McCaul

Introducing: Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co.

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

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.

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The Dish

Openings

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Introducing: A-OK Foods, a new ramen and snack bar from the owners of Yours Truly

Introducing: A-OK Foods

(Image: Renée Suen)

Earlier this year, Yours Truly shifted to an all-tasting-menu format, eliminating the popular bar snacks that had helped build the restaurant’s good name. Now, owners Matt CherkasDan Hawkins and Aleem Jamal-Kabani are bringing some of those favourites back at A-OK Foods, a new snack and ramen bar open for lunch and dinner on Queen West between Ursa and County General. The changing menu, led by head chef Chris Jang, features Chinese, Korean and Mexican flavours, but the big draw will no doubt be the chewy house-made ramen noodles, a rarity in Toronto, made on a special machine imported from Korea and then aged for up to three days.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Sang Kim is opening a pair of new restaurants on Baldwin: Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food

Close watchers of Baldwin Village have no doubt noticed the butcher paper in the windows at 1 Baldwin Street. Coming soon to the former Baldwin Palace Restaurant space are not one but two restaurants from restaurateur Sang Kim: Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food. (Kim, who previously helped launch Koko Share Bar, Ki and Blowfish, has adorned the door with a giant question mark, and is savvily building up hype for his December 1 launch with a behind-the-scenes blog.) Kim told us that although the two restaurants technically share one  space, there’s a partition between them, and each will have a distinct feel and atmosphere.

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The Dish

Food TV

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Recipe to Riches reviewed, episode 4: Triple “S” Korean Meatballs

Recipe to Riches reviewed: Triple “S” Korean Meatball

RECIPE TO RICHES Season 2, Episode 4

This week on Recipe to Riches, things got a touch gritty. For the first time this season, the show’s usual rapid-fire montage of home cooks vying for a spot in the final three was cut with shaky, behind-the-scenes footage of them rushing about to prepare their dishes for the judges. Likewise, the competitors, normally a polite bunch, didn’t hold back, taking sarcastic potshots at each other’s dishes and replacing the usual optimistic sign-offs with bitter parting shots. Is Canada’s most polite reality program showing a little teeth? We sure hope so.

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The Dish

Restaurants

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Weekly Lunch Pick: hearty Korean takeout at downtown’s revamped ID Bulgogi

(Image: Andrew Brudz)

Don’t be fooled by the sign on the awning or the menu, both of which still refer to the space by its former moniker, Bob’s Bulgogi. The tiny Victoria Street Korean takeout joint has received a stylish makeover to go with its new name, ID Bulgogi, complete with matte black tiles from floor to ceiling, industrial lighting, Korean artifacts and, yes, shellacked barnwood tables. It seats about four, so the steady stream of downtowners mostly opt for takeout, which they squirrel back to their offices. 

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