Té (Toronto)

There’s a cheekiness to Té that I enjoy. The French flair added to “tea” to form their name, the unexpected breezy décor that flies in the face of traditional Korean restaurants, or even the silent black and white Sailor Moon that graces the television in their bar area. Té is different and certainly won’t please everyone.

Starting with the rustic look of their kimchi devilled eggs ($7 for 3). The yolks are mixed with sesame oil and kimchi paste, instead of creamy mayonnaise, creating a stiffer paste to pipe back into the egg white. I could certainly taste the nutty oil that always makes my taste buds sing, but would have liked more of the gochujong as there wasn’t much heat to the egg. In fact, aside from the sesame oil these tasted like any other deviled egg. Swapping the bacon bits for chopped kimchi may give it that element it’s missing and make the dish vegetarian-friendly to boot.

Similarly, the kimchi was lost within the ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan mixture in the toasted kimchi ravioli ($13). Chances are any ingredient wouldn’t be able to hold up against the swiggle of honey wasabi pesto piped on top of the crispy ravioli as the wasabi was so pungent and overpowering. Some reviewers rave about this dish, but I found the panko crust made it too dry and the pasta was overly chewy. It’s not one I’d order again.

The bulgogi sliders ($15) were good with a pile of thinly sliced sweet-soy marinated sirloin topped adorned with a perfectly cooked quail egg, which is runny so makes for a messy first bite. The sliders would be even better if there wasn’t wasabi in the mayo (Té’s chef certainly loves wasabi) and the buns were warm and toasted.

If you really want to try the bulgogi I’d opt for one of the main dishes instead. Té’s bi bim bap ($17) follows a traditional recipe where the beef is accompanied by cold sesame-marinated vegetables and a fried egg. They swap out the white rice for nuttier purple rice instead and Té’s sweet chili sauce is thicker and spicier than other ones I’ve tried.

Sadly, the bi bim bap wasn’t presented in the typical hot stone bowl. That vessel is so important as it creates the crust on the bottom of the rice and the heat warms up the cold garnishes and sauce so that once everything is mixed together the flavours really melt and meld together.

There’s plenty of bulgogi on top of their mac and cheese ($18) and the pasta was excellent as well. I enjoyed the creamy gooey cheese sauce and the parmesan panko crisp on top adds a lovely textured crunch for those who want an extra pop of flavour.

Other stand-out dishes were the following small plates. The braised pork crostini ($14) features a juicy hunk of five spice-soy marinated pork belly that seeps into the crusty toasted bread. It’s simple but such a lovely bite.  

The pork belly and kimchi lettuce wrap ($14) was also a hit. In this dish, the pork belly is thinner and grilled to give it a lovely caramelized crust. Sitting on a layer of kimchi, pickled daikon, and crispy lettuce with a sweet garlicky chili paste the wrap is a lovely balanced bite and one of the better ssam I’ve had.

And you really can’t go wrong with freshly fried chicken ($9 for 2 pieces of $16 for 4 pieces) that arrives steaming hot and begging to be eaten. I’m glad Té left off the typical sweet, sour, and spicy red sauce and kept the chicken lightly dusted with five spice seasoned flour. It keeps the skin crispy and the chicken was juicy enough to not require any sauce.

It’s remarkable how much they create in-house, including a handful of baked goods. The butterscotch caramel cheesecake ($6) wouldn’t have been my first choice for dessert, but I’m glad we went with our server’s suggestion as it was a nice blend of sweet and gentle saltiness, and smooth cake with a bit of crunch from the toffee bits.

For those who’d rather drink their dessert, Té has plenty of cocktails to choose from at $14.50 each. The mango black Té is their play on a mango bubble tea except spiked with Scotch for a boozy adult take on the classic drink. It’s a tad gimmicky as the drink isn’t executed well given the mini tapioca pearls are rather hard and the straw not thick enough to actually allow them to pass with the tea.

The bobaless drinks were more my style, having sampled a lovely vivid-pink strawberry with Proescco cocktail that really hit the spot and their seasonal feature drink that is almost like a mojito incorporating lemonade so that it’s extra refreshing.

As a warning, service can be a tad slow, for drinks and food, as everything is freshly made - I wouldn’t dine there if you’re in a hurry or starving. Té should consider creating a banchan platter for the table, which they could split in advance into little dishes stacked on top of one another allowing servers to just grab-and-go. Patrons may be a little pissed that they’ll be charged for it (banchan is normally complementary at Korean restaurants), but at least it will help ease the wait and can even double as a “bar snack” for cocktails. They could even add their flair to the name… parTé platter perhaps?

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 70 Ossington Avenue

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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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