Song Cook's Authentic Korean Restaurant (Thornhill)

Song Cook serves up authentic Korean cuisine and a lot of it (good luck narrowing down your order from their extensive spiral bound menu). The restaurant has an equally large dining room that’s separated into areas with regular tables or tatami sitting, if you’re in for a truly authentic experience. As a warning, the tatami tables are the real deal: there’s no hidden cut out holes so your legs can dangle, therefore a meal could really be an endurance for your core and flexibility.


Luckily, service at Song Cook is speedy, so unless you want to stay for hours, food arrives quickly after placing your order. The menu lists dishes by category (noodles, saam, rice dishes, etc.), but pay attention to the prices as some are large platters best shared amongst groups of five or more. 

Take the haemul pajun ($27.99), the seafood and green onion pancake could be mistaken for a medium pan pizza. Its sheer size allows for large chunks of octopus, shrimp, and green onion to be incorporated into the batter, which is really like an omelette with glutinous flour added for a bit of chewiness. By itself the pancake can be a bit bland, but a dip into the sweet soy sauce makes it delicious.

Another platter that feeds a crowd is the jap chae ($26.99), the warm chewy glass noodles tossed in a fragrant sesame oil soy sauce with beef and vegetables. It’s a decent version of the dish but surprisingly expensive for what you ultimately receive.  


The last of huge shared plates we tried included:
  • Tang suk yuk ($24.99), a sweet and sour chicken whose sauce, although not the vibrant red variety found in Chinese restaurants, is still flavourful. However, there’s just way too much breading on the chicken itself … really the speck of meat in the middle could be anything.

  • On the other hand, the spicy don ka su ($16.99) didn’t skimp on the meat, with the cast-iron skillet holding two long large pork cutlets. The dish is best eaten right out of the fryer, when the breading hasn’t gotten soggy from the thick spicy sauce the cutlets are smothered in. Overall, the don ka su could have been delicious (I loved the kick from the sauce), but the breading had a stale aftertaste and needed more seasoning.
 

As a warning, their grilled ssam dishes don’t actually include the lettuce wraps (for this you’ll need to add $5). The sam kyup sal consisted of three slices of relatively thick pork belly ($12.99). It lacked any flavour on its own, so really required the sweet bean paste and garlic oil that’s included on the side. Without the actual lettuce and herb garnishes the dish is pretty plain. The LA kalbi ($21.99) was better given the short ribs are marinated in a sweet garlic sauce, so is still tasty on its own. Like the jap chae, the kalbi was good, but not outstanding to warrant the much higher price compared to other Korean restaurants.


Not everything at Song Cooks is overpriced; most of their noodle and rice dishes are competitively sized and priced. I loved the chewy doughy noodles used in the ja jang myun ($8.99), but would have liked a bit more salt in the thick black bean sauce and the dish served hotter.


Their del sot bibimbap ($11.99) is fantastic with plenty of toppings and the most wonderful crispy golden crust develops where the sticky rice meets the hot stone bowl. The red bean sauce it arrives with seems spicier, so use less to begin with as you can always add more.


The ddukbokki ($8.99) is stir fried in a similar spicy sauce and intensely flavoured. It’s such a simple but satisfying dish – the logs of chewy rice cakes is addicting. To make it even more filling, we added ramen noodles ($1.00), which is great for ensuring every ounce of the spicy sauce is soaked up.


Perhaps what I like most about Song Cooks is the atmosphere … the restaurant is such a great laid-back anything-goes environment. While some establishments may give dirty looks to large rowdy tables, the staff at Song Cook join in the celebration, even demonstrating and introducing us to new drinking games. It’s that friendly attitude that makes me want to return for another order of bibimbap to wash down the 'Hulk Smash'. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Thornhill, Canada
 Address: 72 Steeles Avenue West

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Song Cook's Authentic Korean Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Pomegranate (Toronto)


I was introduced to Pomegranate after meeting a Persian women dining by herself at a restaurant. Normally, I would never intrude on someone’s quiet time, but the tables were close together and she noticed me snapping photos of my food. Always in search of good authentic restaurants, I enquired about delicious Persian restaurants within Toronto. Pomegranate, she noted, was a small place, but the food is great and one of her favourite restaurants to visit.

The colourful tapestry adorning the wall instantly put me in a cheerful mood. Despite visiting as soon as the restaurant opened, light aromas of spices were already wafting throughout the dining area, a promise of the flavours to come. The women didn’t lie, it’s a small restaurant with perhaps a dozen tables, so consider making a reservation - even with our weeknight visit, we secured one of the last unreserved tables.

While waiting for our mains, we shared an order of the kashke-e bademjaan ($7.95), which wasn’t big, but rich enough to satisfy our table of four with a couple tablespoons each. A bed of soft charred eggplant is topped with Persian whey, garlic, walnuts and caramelized onions. The starter comes with a basket of hot lightly toasted soft pita bread that’s perfect for scooping up a bit of everything to get all the flavours and crunch. The whey had a light creamy consistency and when mixed with the garlic almost had a tahini feel to it.


I’m always partial of lamb dishes when visiting a Persian, Indian or Greek restaurant. Hence, immediately the queymeh ($15.50) called to me. The hearty stew is great for spooning over the basmati rice where the tomato saffron sauce could mix with the long grains of rice - oh if only I had saved some of the pita bread to dip into the stew as well!


The dish had a surprisingly sour finish due to the sun-dried lime added to the braised lamb and yellow split peas. It took a couple of forkfuls to get used to it, but afterwards I rather like the citrusy finish that helped mellow out the otherwise heavier stew. Yet, I wished all the sides accompanying it wasn’t also sour:  the shirazi salad was finely diced vegetables tossed with citrus; even the mixed greens had a vinegar and oil dressing. Anything, even a reduced balsamic vinaigrette with the mixed green, would have helped to provide contrast within the platter.

To end, a cup of the Persian chai ($2). The black tea isn’t as strong as its Indian counterpart, lacking the lovely cardamom scent (it just smelt like orange pekoe) and the spices steeped with the tea is evident but muted. If you prefer a weaker tea, the Persian chai may be a good choice. For me, I’d just stick with the tried and true mint version next time.


City dwellers are often guarded and like to exist within their own bubbles. Admittedly, I’m no different, not one to strike up conversations with a stranger. Sometimes, it’s nice to break through our comfort zone and get to know someone. Sure, we may never see them again, but what we learn from them could be interesting, useful, and delicious.

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 420 College Street

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


The Pomegranate Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Burger's Priest (Toronto)


When I heard about the line-ups (and disappointment when patties run out) at the Burger’s Priest, I knew I’d want to try the establishment, but the hype would have to die down first. Now that multiple locations have opened across Toronto and even Uber Eats delivers their product, my desires are fulfilled.    

My first bite was into the California classic ($8.87 with an extra $5.62 for a combo) after an evening of drinking by their Adelaide location. Luckily, there was no queue (compared to lunch hour) and within twenty minutes I was biting into a soft juicy meat patty.


The burger was decadent, the relatively thick patty sandwiched between a buttered and toasted bun resembling grilled cheese bread. Although the beef patty didn’t have that lovely char and smoky barbeque taste I love with burgers, there was still a strong beef flavour to make it standout. Containing cheese, sautéed onion, lettuce and tomato, the burger had all the classic toppings. However, the “secret sauce” noted on the menu became lost. Altogether, a delicious burger.

My second experience with Burger’s Priest was a delivery through Uber Eats from their North York outpost. The wait was understandably much longer, so long that I was a bit worried the sandwich would arrive cold. However, the regular hamburger ($6.83) was still warm, albeit the “smoke” ($1.79) or slices of deep-fried panko crusted jalapenos became soggy.


With the regular bun, you could taste the beef patty more although the burger didn’t standout compared to other premium fast food eateries – the buttered and toasted bun really makes it special. The four small rounds of jalapenos was a bit disappointing adding a light heat but no crunch or smoke.

Their fries, although somewhat expensive to add on, is a huge portion and can easily be shared. The fresh cut potato is soft with crispy edges (very similar to Swiss Chalet’s fries) and salty enough that no condiments are required.


All in all, you’ll get a good meal at the Burger’s Priest, their product is good. However, would I ever wait an hour to have it? Never … it’s not that good. Luckily, for you and I, the hype has died down. Long live the Priest.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 212 Adelaide Street West

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


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Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



The Burger's Priest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato The Burger's Priest Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shanghai Dim Sum 上海城隍廟小吃 (Toronto)


Everything about Shanghai Dim Sum is small. First, their parking lot that can perhaps park a dozen cars if everyone meticulously stays within the diagonal lines. Then, the dining room, a little square of a thing that has so many tables jammed into it that it’d be surprising if your back isn’t brushing up against a neighbor. Even their dishes are but a mere portion of the heaping bowls of noodles found in congee places, but there’s still enough to leave you full when augmented by their namesake dish.

What people come to Shanghai Dim Sum for is their steamed silk skin xiao long bao. Arriving four to an order, each dumpling is a comforting package filled with scalding hot broth within a thin translucent wrapper. For these, the restaurant also offers them at a low price: the pork filled at $0.99 for first order and $2.99 for second, another version adds crab to the pork for a $1 more ($1.99 for first and $3.99 for second).

They look identical, with the exception of the tip of one that’s dyed yellow to help the restaurant distinguish them. I’ll admit, the crab is non-existent except for a faint taste in the background (a hit or miss as can be fishy some visits or sweet during others). But, with the low prices why not try both even if the crab one lacks shellfish?

Shanghai Dim Sum is the first place I’ve been to that even offers a pan fried version of the soup filled dumplings ($1.99 for first and $3.99 for second). Try to resist biting into one as soon as the plate arrives, your tongue will thank me later. I love the combination of the soft soupy pork filling and the crispy dough wrapper, what a dish.


You can also have a meal of rice and accompaniments at the restaurant, although the dishes are also small and really made for a table of four. The traditional stewed whole fish with chili sauce ($9.99) arrives deep fried and smothered in a tangy sweet spicy sauce that is has a Thai influence to it. It’s your run of the mill frozen fish that’s been deep fried and slathered in sauce; it’s not great, but at least it isn’t fishy.


Their boiled chicken with chili sauce ($8.99) sounds plain but something about the tender dark meat sitting in sesame paste and chili oil is really delicious. As a warning, the dish is served cool so the chili oil can congeal a bit. The dish is particularly refreshing in the summer time.


Personally, I’d stick with the restaurant’s dim sum and noodle dishes. Their noodle in soup is fantastic with thin strands of chewy ones sitting in a salty flavourful broth. The beef brisket ($8.99) has a hint of spice in the soup and the meat arrives in large chunks that aren’t overly fatty. Although I wouldn’t classify the brisket as tender, it’s also not tough, but could be challenging for people with false teeth.


For older visitors, their pork chop noodle in soup ($6.99) may be easier to chew through, the marinated chop a decent thickness and precut into slices to make it easier to share.


With a fair number of desserts to choose from, our smaller table went with the kusa mochi ($3.99), which descends from Japan and not Shanghai. However, the chewy pieces of glutinous flour filled with tons of sweet red bean paste is a nice ending. Since the mochi is steamed, the dessert is lighter than the typical pan fried or fried sweets that are traditional to Shanghai.


In the end, all the small dishes were worth struggling to find parking and waiting twenty minutes to squish into a small table. Sometimes it’s nice to remember that good things do come in small soup filled packages.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 4401 Sheppard Avenue East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Shanghai Dim Sum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Good Taste Casserole Rice 知味煲仔饭 (Markham)


If you’re looking for a filling meal for about $10, fast food restaurants isn’t the best choice. In the corner of a busy Chinese plaza sits Good Taste Casserole Rice. Here their combos are so large that sharing three amongst four people is perfect. Aside from the hefty pot of rice, each also arrives with soup and boiled vegetables.


The soup is piping hot after being steamed in individual pots. Inside the clear broth holds cubes of pork, papaya and white fungus. It’s unsalted so you’ll need a liberal sprinkling from the shaker at the table.

With dozens of casserole rice options to choose from, what to order depends not only on your preference but also the amount of crispy rice crust you prefer - in my opinion, the best part of the dish. Otherwise, you're really just eating baked rice with meat; why wait half an hour for that?

Although the preserved meats is normally not one of my favourite toppings, for casserole rice it's the best option as there’s less moisture resulting in a thick golden crispy crust. The assorted preserved meat ($10.99) contains lap cheung (sweet Chinese cured sausage), preserved duck, pork and fish so you get a bit of everything to sample. Good Taste doesn’t skimp on the ingredients with plenty of each.

With the salted fish and minced pork ($8.99), there's still a layer of crust on the bottom, but the thickness diminishes and isn't quite as crispy. With a fair amount of salted fish chunks, the casserole let’s off a pungent aroma – heavenly if you enjoy the ingredient, like dried sweaty socks if you don’t.


By the time you’re having a casserole rice topped with something like pork spareribs and black bean ($7.99) the crust becomes non-existent and tends to be hard and chewy. Of course, the spareribs is meatier and there’s a decent serving of it for the low price.


In the end, weather you enjoy a thick and crunchy crust or just a pot of soft moist rice, there’s an array to choose from at Good Taste Casserole Rice. Plus, the sheer amount of food you receive will be healthier and more filling than a burger combo any day.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 8392 Kennedy Road (Unit A9)
                  

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Good Taste Casserole Rice Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kub Khao Thai Eatery (Toronto)


Don’t let their location at an independent gas station scare you, the Thai food at Kub Khao is legit. The store front dining room may look dingy, but the seating area at the back is colourful and cheerful, the tapestry reminiscent of the lovely woven textiles across Thailand. Accordingly, if décor is important, ask to be sat in the back.

Sadly, their moo ping ($6.95) wasn’t the slightly spicy version I found at Destination Thailand, but still decent. The grilled pork skewer are glazed in a sweet tangy tamarind sauce with more on the side. They’re hot and tender, served quickly so they’re almost as fresh as a street vendor handing you one fresh from the grill.


The chicken pad kee mao ($11.95) uses wide flat rice noodles stir fried with egg and vegetables. It may look like your run-of-the-mill noodles, but watch out for the whole green peppercorns hidden throughout, which adds an earthy heat to the dish (albeit more subdued that the strong black peppercorn).


With the shrimp paste coating the rice kernels, the smoked chili fried rice ($10.95) was delicious – something I’d definitely order again. This works well as a vegetarian dish incorporating tofu puffs that add a soft crunchiness against the tender rice. Even though there was a chili on the menu, the rice wasn’t spicy, rather having a nice savoury essence.


As you scoop the beef green curry ($11.95), get to the bottom of the bowl as the chopped banana peppers settles there. For the first serving, I found it was just creamy and sweet from the coconut milk – still good but far too commercial tasting. I even had to ask for hot sauce just to give it heat. However, the second serving, after reaching the chili sediments at the bottom, we felt the tinge of spice, which really makes the curry. Although the dish already comes with steamed rice you should opt for an extra order ($2), why waste any of the lovely sauce, the best part of the curry.


Perhaps it was due to the holiday season, but there were only two people working at the front of the house during our week night visit. Even though service was slow (due to the sheer size of the restaurant that needs to be managed by two workers), I must commend how quickly they were operating.

The mom and pop operation means stir fried dishes come out slowly, so I’d suggest getting some appetizers if you’re hungry as they arrive quicker. Moreover, the noodle and rice dishes aren’t overly large so a couple of starters amongst a table of four isn’t a lot. Just be patient. Eating at Kub Khao may not be speedy, but what you’ll get is much better than the ketchup-laced pad thai of the suburbs any day.  

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3561 Sheppard Avenue East
 Website: http://kubkhao.ca/

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Kub Khao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Salad King (Toronto)

Any University student from Toronto’s downtown core has likely visited Salad King – in fact, Ryerson students even get a 20% discount if they go during the off hours of 2-5pm. Their meals cater to price conscious hungry students with affordable price points and fairly large portions.

Take their crispy spring rolls ($4.80), it arrives three to an order and each are a fair size. Even though they were predominantly filled with bean vermicelli, there was still ample flavour from the oyster sauce laced vegetables and bamboo shoots. Since they were freshly out of the fryer, they arrived scorching hot; crispy and satisfying.


The tom yum soup ($3.80) was also a decent sized bowl. Containing little in terms of ingredients (merely sliced white mushrooms and coriander), nonetheless, the broth was nicely spiced without being overly acidic or powerful. It’s a similar base that’s used in the street noodle soup ($9.25), a delicious main I’ve had in the past when I was craving the soup in a heartier meal form.


Having had their chicken phud thai in the past ($9.95) (a decent version although not as “authentic” as places like Pai), the kari noodles ($9.95) proved to be an interesting rendition of the rice noodles – still incorporating egg, vegetables and bean sprout, but the sweet and sour tamarind sauce replaced with curry.

The kari’s only flaw is the curry powder itself, which sticks to the rice noodles making it hard to stir fry evenly. It’s not the most appetizing when you end up with a mouthful of the strong spicy and slightly bitter powder. Perhaps diluting it with a bit of water and making a slurry will help ensure a more even coating on the noodles.

You can really disregard the number of chilies on their menu as they allow you to customize spicy dishes from medium (a little kick) to a range of chilies starting at one (nice) and ending at twenty (may cause stomach upset - at least you’re warned).

I’ve never gotten more than three chilies (start mopping your brow) because that’s spicy enough. I’ve also never left hungry … with $20 you’re bound to be sedated or even leave with doggy bag in tow.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 340 Yonge Street 

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Salad King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato