Showing posts with label Korean BBQ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korean BBQ. Show all posts

Little Piggy's (Toronto)


This Little Piggy went to the market and the market appears to be in Bloor West. The owners of Thornhill’s Piggy recently opened a second location downtown offering a condensed menu of Korean favourites. When Meet-Up group Eat N’ Mingle organized a dinner to the restaurant, Rey made it sound so delicious I had to try it out. The actual cost for the meet-up was $35 per person; regular prices are included below for reference.

Following traditions, a selection of banchan (side dishes) containing pickled vegetable and fermented kimchi arrives before the meal begins. Prior to the onslaught of meat and carbohydrates, I rather like the custom of eating vegetables first. After all, the salads help to negate the effects of pork belly, right? Aside from the flavourful sangchu geotjeori, a leafy salad dressed in a spicy vinaigrette, the restaurant also serves a mild iceburg topped with a creamy sesame dressing.

Their mixed BBQ combination ($41.95) contains pork belly, Korean-style beef and garlic pork. Personally, I prefer the meat marinated so you don’t need to rely on the garlic oil or bean paste condiments for flavour. Moreover, as the marinade’s sugars cook, they give off such a lovely aroma and leaves a lovely caramelized crust on the meat.


Luckily, Little Piggy’s beef was well infused with flavour: the restaurant uses fruits in their house-made sauces instead of just sugar. On the pork there’s a thick garlic and green onion paste that you can certainly smell as the meat cooks.


The restaurant uses a portable cooking plate, brought to the table only if Korean BBQ is ordered, helping to save space. However, the downfall of it not being built into the table is that while food cooks the juices and oil splash over the edge (sometimes giving you a sting on the arm). You’ll want to ensure drinks are nowhere near the cooking vessel unless you want an oily film on top.

In terms of starches, our meal had the typical favourites:
  • Japchae ($8.95): chewy glass noodles tossed in a sweet soy seasoning and slivered vegetables. The dish was decent and had we not inhaled it to start could have complimented the cooked meat nicely.

  • Tteokbokki ($7.95 additional $2.95 for the fish cake): sticky rice cakes smothered in a sweet gochujang sauce with onions and fish cakes. The sauce was too sugary for my taste – even a neighbouring table described theirs as sweet Ragu sauce. To be fair, ours still had a hit of the fiery kick from the red chili paste, it was simply overpowered by the sweetness. Additionally, we all agreed the tteokbokki needed more rice cakes – with a table of four we each only consumed about two rice cakes compared to the mountain of other ingredients on top.

I’d go for the UFO fried rice ($12.95) instead. Served in a hot cast-iron plate, the fried rice is surrounded by a thin steamed egg. The egg is good by itself or once mixed around into the rice and left for a while, starts to develop a lovely crust on the bottom. The saltiness from pieces of beef and bacon (?) and the crispy potato slivers on top makes for one interesting and tasty dish.



Something I’ve seen all over Instagram is their cheerful cocktails – the sweet fruit punch-like grapefruit soju ($7.95) arriving in a smiling cup that admittedly is infectious.


Additionally, another well photographed signature dish is the Oink Oink soft-serve ice cream ($2.95 for the dessert size) – don’t worry, despite the name there’s no pork in the dessert – a vanilla soft-serve topped with honeycomb. Although it makes for a great picture, the actual product isn’t the tastiest given the ice cream’s cold temperature causes the comb’s wax to harden. In the end, after trying the honey, you’re left with a chewy ball of wax to spit out.


My advice to the owners is to reformulate the dessert. If you’re going to title something “oink oink” why not actually add something pig related to it? A really thin piece of candied un-smoked bacon could pair better with cold soft-serve. After all, if this Little Piggy’s going to the market, it might as well bring something special.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 469 Bloor 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:

Little Piggy's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kobi Korean BBQ (Thornhill)

Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill

The smell of searing meat mixed with the faint caramelizing marinades gets me salivating. It’s agony having to wait for a table while visiting a Korean BBQ establishment, seeing the hot cast iron plates doing their duty and not enjoying the fruits of their labour. It’s difficult, but I try not to stare too much at fellow diners, my longing eyes likely making their meals uncomfortable.

If you don’t want to experience all this, call ahead to Kobi Korean BBQ to get a reservation. It’s packed during the weekends and even with a reservation it can be another 15-30 minute wait.

Also, go with at least four people. For the larger dishes, tables need to place at least two orders of each - although you’re able to mix-and-match amongst the options. For example, for their famed fondue BBQ platter, you can order the spicy chicken and cheese ($18.99) and the spicy squid and cheese ($19.99), they’ll get combined into a larger dish. The end product is predominantly onions, the chicken and squid relatively sparse, but everything is mixed into a wonderful flavourful sweet and spicy sauce.

Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill: chicken, squid and cheese

If you run out of cheese an additional order ($5.99), the equivalent of two cups (and you can tell as it’s served in a measuring cup), is available to add to the plate. With the excess onions I suggest you combine them with a couple of bowls of rice, cheese, kimchi and garlic into the hot plate and make your own fried rice. We also threw in some seared pork belly and it was fantastic!

The seafood pancake with garlic chives ($6.99) is one of the better ones I’ve had with tons of ingredients and a sweet soy on the side. As you’ll notice, there is no picture and this is largely due to the dishes coming out too quickly. With a third of the table already occupied by the BBQ hot plate and another third consumed by all the utensils and small dishes there’s no room for food. We literally had to throw the beef onto the hot plate and divvy up the pancake onto our plates to keep things flowing.

Since the hot plate utilizes so much real estate, it’d be a shame not to try some of their BBQ items (also a minimum of two items but can be combined). The marinated beef ribs ($24.99) was delicious, a satisfying thickness, tender and well flavoured.

Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill: beef

Meanwhile, while ordering the pork belly our waitress asked if we’d prefer a thick or thin cut. Answering “thick” she looked at us dubiously and suggested we switch to the thin instead. Who am I to argue against experience? So, the thinly sliced pork belly ($15.99) was placed instead. Not having tried the thicker cut, I really can’t see why it wouldn’t have suited us, but the thin ones ended up being fine – cooking quickly and there were more slices to go around – a quarter which ended up in the make-your-own fried rice.

Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill: pork belly

Accompanying the larger dishes were also a host of complimentary items:
  • Various banchan of spicy napa cabbage kimchi, turnip kimchi, pickled cucumbers, a sad portion of sesame oil laced green beans, and peanuts.
  • A bowl of steamed egg (seen in the cover photo). As always so delicious that I could have easily consumed the whole thing myself.
  • A bowl of spicy bean tofu soup placed in the middle of the cast iron plate so that it’s kept hot and bubbling the entire time.
  • Leafs of romaine lettuce, a napa and green onion slaw, thinly sliced raw red onions, slices of raw jalapeno, and garlic to wrap the BBQ meats into.
Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill: banchan

Despite the initial panic when all the food arrived and difficulties in capturing staff attention to get a refill of depleting condiments, we had a jovial and enjoyable dinner. The tightly packed table configuration does mean the circulation in the restaurant is poor and the dining room fills with smoke. If this bothers you and the weather is nice, ask to be seated outside where the view of the parking lot may not be the best but at least you won’t reek of cooked meat afterwards.

Kobi Korean BBQ Thornhill: patio

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 Steeles Avenue West

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:


KOBI Korean BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kookminhakgyo (Toronto)

Photo courtesy of Jes Lin
Finding authentic Korean restaurants in North York isn’t difficult, every step along Yonge between Sheppard and Steeles presents another option; what’s hard is choosing between all the choices. If it weren’t for a recommendation, I would have never stumbled into Kookminhakgyo – the store front is small and the plaza it’s situated in hidden amongst larger buildings.

Yet, it’s well known amongst locals as the restaurant had a constant stream of customers in hopes of settling into one of their ten circular tables, allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis. Kookminhakgyo’s surroundings is sparse but functional: the stainless steel tables easily cleaned and you can get messy on; the cushion lifts on the seat to protect coats and bags from smelling like food; and décor reminds you of a school or teenager’s room but uncluttered.


Not knowing how long it’d take to receive our food - quite quickly it turns out – we assumed an order of gaeran mari ($8.99) would be required. The Korean omelette was essentially just egg with green onions served with ketchup. I would have thought there’d be something more to it (chopped kimchi, a spicy paste), really anything to make it more “Korean”.  Nevertheless, as a plain omelette it was still tasty with its many layers and slightly gooey center.  


In terms of the actual BBQ, the Kookminhakgyo set ($57.99) will make any pork lover’s heart flutter, a large platter of the animal’s skirt meat, shoulder, jowl (or cheek) and belly (both with and without skin). Depending on your hunger, it’d be sufficient for three to four people.


It was the ideal dish for a first visit, to allow us to try everything and gauge what we like. The large slabs of pork belly were too heavy for me (although the fat renders off on the hot grill) and the jowl desperately needed seasoning. But, the large shoulder slices were a nice balance of moisture from the fat and meat and the skirt meat chewier but at least flavourful.  

I’m always partial to beef so we also ordered some beef skirt meat ($23.99), a decent sized portion cut into strips to allow you to easily wrap in lettuce.


After ordering, a flurry of side dishes, banchan (cabbage and radish kimchi), sauces (spicy and sweet bean paste), add ons (garlic oil, marinated jalapeno & onion) and lettuce appear. For our table of six, we received two orders of the garan jjim (regularly $6.99) a lovely fluffy steamed egg that would be fantastic with rice and a spicy soybean paste soup with bean sprouts.


Other than beer and soju, a popular drink diners ordered was the Bokbunja ($23.99). If you enjoy ice or dessert wines, you’ll like this Korean fruit wine made with black raspberries; as one friend describes it tasting like an alcoholic Ribena. It’s certainly an easy going drink, but awfully sweet to go well with grilled meats, for dessert perhaps.


Overall, it was a fun meal as meat was tossed on the grill, small plates passed around and hot meat wrapped in lettuce and topped with sauce and fixings. Yet, Kookminhakgyo has a limited menu (no kalbi) and the meat isn’t marinated so you really couldn’t eat it plain. Of course, some items such as pork belly can rightfully be left neutral, but the skirt meat and jowl would really benefit from a marinade. The small tables also make it hard for them to offer additional varieties of banchan; these small dishes are a highlight to having Korean BBQ! I was certainly missing the crunchy cucumbers, sesame laced bean sprouts and chewy soy beans.


Nonetheless, they did have fantastic service: staff frequently checked in on us to ensure depleted banchan and lettuce was replenished swiftly. After all, with their limited tables, serving food quickly and getting diners in-and-out is important – the whole meal lasted about an hour. So, you may not get the full experience, but the restaurant is a great option for those who want Korean BBQ but not sitting around for hours.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 6016 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:


Kookminhakgyo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato