Showing posts with label kalbi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kalbi. Show all posts

Crazy Don (Toronto)

If you’re starving and deep-fried pork products don’t faze you, Crazy Don may satisfy the hunger. Their combos offer the crispy donkatsu with either bacon kimchi fried rice or udon (both $15.95), a reasonable price for the ample portions. Aside from the main, the meal also comes with passable miso soup and a selection of crispy banchan (vegetarian side dishes)


The namesake pork cutlet could be better: ideally served on a cooling rack so the bottom doesn’t touch the plate and become mushy; more seasoning is required so that the only flavour doesn’t stem from the thickened Worcestershire sauce; and the meat cut thinner so it’s not as chewy.    


As for what to pair it with? It’s hard to go wrong with bacon kimchi fried rice – smoky bacon and spicy fermented cabbage goes so well with rice. The side isn’t even greasy, likely the bacon fat used in lieu of oil.


However, I prefer a bowl of udon; it doesn’t feel as heavy and the hot salty katsuobushi broth a nice respite against the dry cutlet. The bulgogi version arrives unadorned with beef, but push to the bottom and you’ll find a few slices of the thinly sliced meat. The meagre protein didn’t bother me too much, since there was already a fair sized donkatsu to get through. What I did find odd was the uncooked Shanhai bok choy on top – luckily the soup is scalding hot so a few minutes in the bowl helped wilt the vegetable. Thankfully, Crazy Don doesn’t skimp on the noodles, which are lightly cooked so they stay chewy throughout the meal.


In lieu of the donkatsu, LA kalbi ribs ($18.95 with fried rice or $19.95 with udon) can also accompany combos. While it doesn’t quite have the smoky barbequed taste normally found at Korean restaurants, it’s nonetheless tender and flavourful.


Out of the two proteins, I found the kalbi was better executed than the donkatsu. Who knows, maybe Crazy Don should consider rebranding itself Crazy Kal instead.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5175 Yonge 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:


Crazy Don Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ (Toronto)


With so many Japanese restaurants with a rendition of Gyu or Guu in their name, keeping them separate can be confusing. At the corner of Church and Jarvis, sits Gyu-Kaku that’s more barbeque house than izakaya… it also has nothing to do with the popular Vancouver chain. Instead, Gyu-Kaku is part of a 650-restaurant worldwide franchise (though none located in Japan), started in LA.

Although their menu focuses heavily on barbequed proteins, there are also a number of izakaya-like dishes on their a la carte menu. If you’re indecisive, choose from the “BBQ course” meals available - we went with the meat lovers for two ($60). With “meat lovers” in the title, you’d expect there to be tons of protein. Served in two stages, based on cooking time, it’s a smart way to avoid overcooking the meat. The first round included yaki-shabu beef, toro beef, and kalbi chuck short rib. With these thinner cuts, we were advised to cook them 30-60 seconds per side.


Since the yaki-shabu is the thinnest, these were done in no time. Depending on the slice, they were a bit chewy, given the brisket is also rather lean. Despite the thick layer of fat on the toro, it was also a tougher cut of beef, but as you chew through it, the melted fat covers the tongue mixing with the sweet caramelized glaze to create a lovely sauce. Meanwhile, the kalbi is a combination of the two, my favourite of the bunch.

All the meat arrives marinated and flavourful. However, if it’s not strong enough or you want to change the flavour profile, bottles of sweet, spicy (really sweet and spicy), and ponzu (slightly sour) dipping sauces are also available at every table.


As we reach the finishing point, a second helping of meat arrives including bistro-hanger steak, New York steak, and spicy pork. These thicker cuts require up to two minutes per side – since we’re getting full, waiting longer is a welcomed break. Taking the longest to cook, the thick slices of New York steak are good, but should have a peppery coating instead to give it that charbroiled taste. Meanwhile, the spicy pork definitely had a kick, which sort of sneaks up on you and gets you at the back of the throat before you realize what’s happening.


By far, our favourite protein was the bistro-hanger steak. It’s tender, juicy, and has a real full-bodied flavour. While good on its own or with a bite of over-watered sticky rice, I particularly enjoyed the hanger steak tucked into a piece of lettuce salvaged from the salad.

There were a few vegetable dishes included in the meal, but it’s not a lot. To start, a bowl of Gyu-Kaku salad - leafy green lettuce topped with shredded daikon and a creamy miso dressing. During the meal came a bowl of hot salty edamame and a foil packet of corn that’s re-heated on the grill. We also added on an order of kim chee ($4) to the dinner, since the crunchy spicy cabbage goes so well with barbequed meat.



As if there wasn’t already enough protein, an order of chicken karaage accompanies the meal; the deep fried nuggets of chicken really juicy and not too heavy given they’re only dusted with a light coating of flour.


To end, a scoop of ice cream (green tea, vanilla, or black sesame) - the coldness a welcomed respite after the hot barbeque meal.

The restaurant is a little warm, but thankfully not smoky. Gyu-Kaku uses a special grill that sucks the smoke into the bottom of the table and out through a vent; even with over a dozen of them in use, the restaurant was relatively smoke-free and I left not reeking of cooked meat. Staff are also regularly replace the metal grill plate (ours was changed three times), which also cuts down on the smoke and ensures the later slices of meat don’t have burnt pieces of sauce on them.

Compared to traditional Korean barbeque restaurant, Gyu-Kaku’s service is impeccable; staff checked in at regular intervals, we never had to ask someone to re-fill our water or bring more sauce. Gyu’s yakiniku dining is quite enjoyable. Thanks to the comfortable spacious tables and ingenious smoke sucking equipment, I can get my fill of grilled meats without smelling like it.     

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 81 Church 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:


Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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:


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


Sushi Moto (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 4901 Yonge Street
Website: http://sushimoto.ca/
Type of Meal: Dinner



Sushi Moto is a spacious place, there’s large booths and tables in the centre perfect for bigger groups.  Having been there before, my husband and I dropped by for more of the delicious sounding rolls they offered.


Being a little adventurous we ordered the spicy killer maki ($9.95). Sure the name sounds deadly and makes you sweat in anticipation of the spice but it ended up being bearable. Essentially a spicy tuna roll with red chillies (although the menu notes jalapeño) and avocado which is then deep fried so there's a crispy crust and the tuna cooks. The crunch is nice and the heat augments the spiciness. Luckily, the avocado helps to neutralize it a bit so you can still enjoy the flavours. The spicy killer is filled with flavour but is meant to be shared as quite heavy.


We also had our normal purchases the spicy salmon ($6.95) and dynamite ($9.95) maki. The spicy salmon is average with big chunks of salmon rolled with tempura bits and spicy mayo. Sushi Moto leaves the salmon in big pieces rather than chopped up into tiny bits, which I personally like.


The dynamite is large and filling with tempura shrimp, avocado, julienned cucumber, and fish roe. Also a decent roll it could have been even better if the shrimp were freshly fried.


Craving something hot and meaty we also ordered the kalbi ($9.95). Arriving on a sizzling plate with plenty of onions it's fragrant and hot. The thicker cut and sufficient marinade was appreciated but for the price I did expect more than two pieces cut up into smaller pieces.


Additionally, Sushi Moto provides complementary Japanese noodle soup (not quite sure what the soup base would be). And if all the television screens can’t keep you entertained their tea cups offer an interesting read.


Compared to our first experience, Sushi Moto has improved slightly with their food’s flavours. Personally, I feel it’s worth it to pay a bit more for their "special" maki as they tend to have more fillings and often offers a different take on the normal rolls. Other ones that sound interesting include the erotica, tataki attack and the pink lady, which I’m sure we’ll go back one day to try. 


Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!


Sariwon (Thornhill)

Location: Thornhill, Canada
Address: 7388 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Mentioning Korean barbeque in Toronto brings up images of all you can eat restaurants where diners cram around a small table and cook thinly sliced meat on a cast iron plate. The quality of the meat is usually subpar but the prices are cheap and food is plentiful.  Sariwon is where you can go to experience authentic Korean barbeque cooking in a comfortable environment.

Located in a retail plaza on the bottom of condo buildings, the location is surprisingly large with tons of tables and several tucked away in separate rooms.  Tables are spaced a comfortable distance away from each other so you don’t feel like you’re spying on you’re the cooking skills of your neighbours.
Sariwon serves an extensive menu with Korean non-barbeque dishes (pork bone soup, bibimbap, etc.) as well as a couple of pages dedicated to Chinese cuisine.  However, you get a sense to stay away from all these as everyone who comes generally gets their barbeque mains.  To be fair, it appears this is what they do best as the goon man doo (dumplings) ($6.95) we ordered to begin was pretty disappointing – tasteless pork filling wrapped in thin oily deep-fried dough.  It needed something more - vegetables to add some texture, sauce to give it some flavour, really anything to make it taste less like store bought frozen dumplings.

Before the mains arrived, two complimentary appetizers came first - salad with a homemade orange dressing and a vegetable omelette pancake.  Nothing that blows your mind but of course appreciated.  I particularly liked that their pancake wasn’t too doughy and had a fair amount of vegetables sprinkled throughout.

 Next came a boiling bowl of deonjang jjigae (soybean paste tofu soup) filled with cubes of tofu, slivers of vegetables, button mushrooms and pieces of octopus.  I could have just eaten that with a bowl of rice.  The savoury soup had just a hint of spice from the chilies in it and with the plethora of ingredients really became a hearty stew.




Deonjang jjigae


Finally our mains arrived, which required a trolley to serve with the abundance of banchan (small side dishes to share) that came with it.  In total, we received eight dishes (not all pictured) including:
  • Napa cabbage kimchi
  • Cucumber kimchi
  • Some sort of pickled vegetable (radish or coyote vegetable) in a jalapeño brine
  • Spicy blanched bean sprouts tossed in sesame oil
  • Julienned fish pancakes mixed in a sweet and sour vinaigrette
  • Oyster sauce (?) stir fried peanuts
  • Julienned raw potato salad
  • Stir fried dried shrimp in a sweet soy sauce

With the exception of the dried shrimp, I liked them all.  I appreciated that the kimchi was not too fermented so the vegetables retained their crispness.  The various flavours and acidity of the dishes went well with the heaviness of the meat. 
 

For the barbeque meats, we ordered sam kyub sal (pork belly) ($18.95) and yang yum kalbi (marinated beef short ribs) ($26.95).  The pork belly wasn’t what I expected; arriving like strips of bacon except being tasteless given it hadn’t been smoked or salted.  It was bland and after cooking tasted like grilled boiled pork so I wouldn’t order again.  The kalbi was much better, tender and marinated so that it was flavourful but not overpoweringly sweet.  Additionally, it was cut to a good thickness – not too thin that it overcooked easily but also not so thick that you felt you had to gnaw at it.  



A basket of crisp romaine lettuce and a green onion soy vinaigrette salad accompanied the meats so that you could wrap them like ssam.  Each person also received a dish of sweet bean paste of peppered sesame oil to add more flavour if required.  I really enjoyed the bean paste and finished every drop of it.
Lettuce dishes



Small bowls of soojong gwa (chilled ginger-cinnamon tea) finished off our meal.  The pieces of crushed ice floating in the sweet liquid were perfect after sitting beside the heat of the grill.



Sariwon is great place to go with a group of friends if you just want to take your time having dinner.  We didn’t feel rushed and the staff generally left us alone until we called them with the button situated on the wall beside our table.  The drinks were reasonably priced; bottles of Sapporo only set us back $5 apiece.  What you end up paying is comparable with the all-you-can-eat Korean barbeque places but you’re in a more comfortable environment.  The two meat dishes was more than enough to satisfy three people and we were stuffed given the soup, salad, rice and banchan that’s also served with it.  In the future, I’ll be visiting Sariwon when I want Korean barbeque.



Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10



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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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