Showing posts with label ssam. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ssam. Show all posts

Orote (Toronto)


There's something about a tasting menu that gives me a thrill - it's oddly freeing to detach myself from decisions and just be ready to experience. Almost like a rollercoaster for eating where I strap myself in for a ride and hope the track is enjoyable.

Orote presents a six-course menu ($78) where there are some decisions: a choice of main course  and whether you want any of the supplementary ingredients and courses. It's not overly exhaustive, I settled on the fish and as a table we decided to add on everything we could. Let the ride begin.

It starts off slowly, as we made our way up the dinner hill. The thinly sliced pork belly with boiled daikon and pickled parrilla leaves is a dish that's better as a whole than each of the individual parts. Yet, the kitchen needs to work on balance: there's too much parrilla so the acidity overwhelms the delicate pork belly and the chunk of irregularly cut daikon makes it really difficult to create a roll. If these ingredients were smaller, the diner would have a better opportunity to taste the paper-thin pork belly and its dusting of savoury shrimp powder. 


We begin to pick up steam when the skewer of lobster and pumpkin robata arrives. It was fantastic, each bite augmented with black garlic and bits of walnut. The spices and grilled preparation gives the lobster such a unique taste that I couldn't register the protein during the first bite, wow was it meaty. 


As we make our way to the top of the plunge, I'm momentarily skeptical of the "salad" course... there's an awfully large portion of what looks like unadorned leafy greens. We're told to make sure to dig to the bottom where we'll find poached mussels and a wonderful consommé. All in all, I didn't mind the  leafy greens and sticks of daikon, it made for a nice cleanser between the grilled lobster and the following dumplings. I just wish the greens were quickly blanched so it wouldn't cause the rest of the dish to cool down so much. Make sure you get every drop of the lovely soup. 


I was thrilled with the two plump mushroom and tofu dumplings. On its own it may seem a bit plain, but as I broke them apart and had bits of it with the bonito dashi, it was delicious. If there's one thing Orote does well it's their soups - they seriously should consider having a larger soup course. For this dish we added shaved truffle ($10) but it didn't make that much of a difference. Give me an extra bowl of dashi any day. 


For the main, I opted for halibut, a nice thick meaty piece that was cooked superbly. It just needed more seasoning - there was so much sesame sauce on top of the fish, yet it added more of a creamy texture than flavour. Even the broth served with the halibut wasn't as strong as the previous dishes. All in all, the main was fine, but not overly exciting. 


Had I known, I would have gone with the pork loin, which was way more flavourful and tasty. The pickled kale made me think of the dish as a lighter and less greasy form of braised pork belly with preserved vegetables, the Hakka mu choy cow yok (from the Cantonese dialect). The pork also went better with the bowl of miso yolk rice ($4), which I forgot to take a picture, but imagine a bowl of steamed sticky rice topped with shaved egg yolk and way too many green onions. 


The shared add-on dishes were sprinkled throughout the ride. Orote's chicken ssam ($12) consists of large mounds of cold shredded chicken topped with a slice of daikon. You can't really wrap it up like bo ssam, so it is slightly strange the dish is named chicken "wrap". I recommend including some of the pickled greens on the side: it would give the chicken more flavour and would provide diners with ingredients to make chicken ssam two ways.


If you're sensitive to salt, Orote is actually a great place to dine at as even the truffle rice cake and perilla seed ($25), described to us as a really creamy rich dish, wasn't overly heavy or powerful. Sure, the sauce was thicker compared to the broth that adorned other dishes, but it wasn't creamy in the traditional sinful sense. If anything, the best part of the dish wasn't it's "creaminess", truffle shavings, or the perilla seeds... it was the soft chewy pieces of rice cake.


Overall, the ride ended on a high: I thoroughly enjoyed the barley cream dessert, which is like a really fluffy panna cotta topped with finely grated chocolate shavings, puffed buckwheat, and black sesame. Creamy and light, it had a great texture that I wanted to savour, yet also wished I could just pop half of it into my mouth and allow the delicate sweetness to flood my taste buds.


The newly opened Orote offers a wonderful tasting option for those who are looking for a healthier meal that doesn't leave you feel stuffed and heavy. I can certainly see Actinolite's influences in Chef Kwangtaek Lee's menu. Though I urge Chef Lee to consider bringing in even more of his Korean influences into the dishes, especially in the mains and add-ons to really give it some pizzazz. As it stands, Orote is nice and solid, but there's the potential to make it really thrilling. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 276 Havelock 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!

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CLOSED: Krazy Corean (Toronto)

Krazy Corean


With a name that would irk any editor, Krazy Corean is increasing the diversity in Little Italy with their menu of Korean offerings. Their signage introduces the cuisine as fusion: although there are several blended plates, the restaurant serves a number of traditional offerings as well. Don’t worry, there’s nothing particularly “crazy” about the food, unless you count the baskets of complimentary freshly made buttery popcorn, served in lieu of bread, wild.


Of all the dishes we tried, the bul-na ($10) (bulgogi nachos) was the most crazy fusion dish. In place of typical chewy rice cakes were crispy thin warm tortilla chips. On the side, a decent pile of well-seasoned bulgogi (thinly shaved beef marinated in a sweet soy sauce), onion, broccoli and jalapeno, smothered in cheese.


The dish needed more sauce and I could have done without the small broccoli florets, which was a strange combination with nachos (bell peppers may be a better choice). Personally, I would rather have the toppings covering the tortillas to allow the flavours to meld together. There’s something about the process of searching for a chip that has the best combination of toppings that’s so satisfying – it’s almost like a treasure hunt. However, the dish is perfect for individuals who hate soggy chips and will allow people to customize the toppings on each tortilla.

Although not overly battered, the Korean style chicken wings ($8) had a nice crunch and were smothered in a tasty sweet and slightly spicy sauce. For the price, there was a fair amount of wings and each piece a decent meaty size. Pine nuts, crushed peanuts and green onion slivers top the wings providing added crunch and flavours.


I love ssam and Krazy Corean’s kalbi version ($14) was satisfying. The marinated BBQ beef short ribs were served with plenty of leaf lettuce and boiled cabbage for wrapping. Ideally, with all the vegetables, the kalbi pieces could be cut larger – two was too much to hold in the wrap but one became somewhat lost amongst the foliage. On the side, slivers of jalapeno and garlic, spicy kimchi and ssam-jang (a sweet and spicy sauce) to add into the wraps – their kimchi was crunchy and delicious. 


Although Krazy Corean isn’t a Japanese restaurant, I thoroughly enjoyed their volcano roll ($13); my favourite dish of the evening. Inside the maki was a plethora of delicious ingredients including shrimp tempura, crab meat, avocado and cucumber. To further augment the roll, the rice was wrapped with salmon and scallop that’s then blow torched to char the protein's fat. Even the garnishes, fried lotus root slices, were fantastic … we finished every last piece.


Despite the narrow store frontage, their dining room is well laid out and the tables easily convertible to accommodate large groups. Being opened until 2am makes the restaurant popular with the late night crowd looking for drinks. Their Tokyo iced tea ($9) is a good choice; made with rum, gin, vodka, trip sec, melon liquor, lemon juice and sprite it doesn't taste alcoholic until you give it time to settle.

Overall, if you’re looking for outrageous creations, Krazy Corean still has a ways to go. But, for reasonably priced dishes and fairly price cocktails, it’s a good choice in Little Italy. Who knows after a few Tokyo iced teas, maybe you’ll make the restaurant live up to its name after all.


Overall mark - 7 out of 10*
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as stated in the mission statement, I will always provide my honest opinion.


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 598 College 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!

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