Showing posts with label banchan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label banchan. Show all posts

Owl of Minerva (Toronto) for delivery

Note: Prices in post are based on regular menu prices and may be higher when using delivery services

Aside from soup-based noodles, a comforting dish I crave in the winter is pork bone soup. There’s almost a primal sense of survival in picking up the massive hunk of bone in your hands and trying to get to as many of the meaty bits as possible, dissecting and sucking until it’s picked clean. Kam ja tang is served in most Korean restaurants, but Owl of Minerva introduced the dish to me and it’s where I return for a fix.

As difficult as it is to transport, Owl does delivery and takeout - the kam ja tang ($10.99) is vacuum sealed so that no drop of the fragrant soup is lost. Without the hot stone bowl, it’s warm on arrival, so we always re-heat it in a pot before tucking in. It needs to be enjoyed in its full glory: blistering hot, burning the fingers, and stinging the tongue. No pain, no delicious gain.

While waiting for the pork bone to re-heat, snack on an order of gu man du ($10.99). The deep-fried dumplings still surprisingly crispy and hot despite also being entombed in plastic. Truthfully, I’d much rather Owl switch to a piece of tin foil to wrap the beef dumpling instead of using so much plastic. We can all benefit from less waste and if someone wanted to re-heat the dumplings in the toaster oven, the tin foil will even save the customer a preparation step.

Back to the pork bone. Once it’s bubbling hot and placed into a bowl, here’s how I like to enjoy my kam ja tang: I help cool it slightly by placing a couple of pieces of kimchi into the bowl. I prefer the fermented cabbage hot and enjoy that extra bit of umami spice that the sauce adds to the broth. Then, it’s a hands-on marathon – first picking off the easy bits of meat with chopsticks, before switching to the primal eating ritual described earlier.

In between it all, I place bit-sized pieces of steam rice on a spoon before adding some broth to the utensil and getting a delicious mouthful of the salty garlicky soup. Some like to add all the rice into the broth and mix it with the meat, creating a Korean congee. I like mine separated, bite by bite. To each their own.

Once the pork bone is done, it’s down to the cabbage with rice. And if I’m feeling particularly ravenous, the hunks of soft potatoes will round out the meal. A meal from Owl of Minerva leaves you stuffed and almost uncomfortably full. It’s my quintessential meal during the winter, where a girl needs to eat to survive. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: Various locations (we ordered from Yonge and Finch)
 Delivery: Uber, Skip the Dishes
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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never order again
  • 6 - decent for delivery and takeout, but there's better
  • 7 - this is good, for delivery and takeout
  • 8 - great for delivery and takeout, it's almost like you're in a restaurant
  • 9 -  wow, it's like I'm eating at a restaurant
  • 10 - I'd happily order this for delivery or takeout instead of dining in any day!


Is That It? I Want More!

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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
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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:


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