Location: 7353 Yonge Street, Thornhill
Cho Sun Ok does well. I showed up at around 6:00 on a Friday, which you’d think would be early enough to beat the crowds, but nope — the place was already packed. Always a good sign.
And yeah, it’s quite good. While they have a fairly extensive menu of Korean standbys, everyone seems to agree that the cold naengmyun noodles are the thing to order.
I went with the mool naengmyun: “Thin, chewy arrowroot noodles topped with our homemade red pepper sauce, sesame seed oil, pickled daikon, slivers of cucumber, a slice of pear and a hard-boiled egg in our flavourful beef based icy broth.”
The style of noodles here are so immensely chewy that they have to be cut with scissors before you start eating them, and combined with the zippy pepper sauce and the beefy, salty cold broth (not to mention the crunchy veggies), it’s a very satisfying dish. It’s easy enough to see why the place is so popular.
Location: 190 University Avenue, Toronto
Momofuku announced a few months ago that they’re shutting down their Toronto outpost later this month (with their location being replaced by Mott 32, a fancy Chinese restaurant chain). I figured one more visit to the Noodle Bar was in order to say goodbye.
I tried a couple of things. First up: the spicy rice cakes from their greatest hits menu, which the menu describes as “rice cakes seared on the plancha and tossed in a sauce with pork sausage, tofu, sichuan chili, gai lan, and finished with scallions.”
It’s a great dish; the rice cakes have a nice combo of crispy exterior and chewy interior, the flavourful sauce complements them perfectly, and the tasty pork sausage rounds things out. I can see why they consider this to be one of their greatest hits. It’s very good.
Since this is almost certainly my last ever visit to Momofuku (at least in Toronto), I had to get one of my favourites: the extremely spicy noodles. I feel like the level of extreme spice was slightly toned down from previous visits, and the noodles were a bit on the soft side, but this was otherwise a tasty (and still explosively spicy) dish.
Tacos at King’s Tacos
The most interesting thing about the tacos at Kings Tacos might just be the way they serve them — an order comes with a very generous platter of meat (in this case the King’s Special, which comes with pork, beef, chorizo, onion, bacon, and cheese) and tortillas on the side, and you build it yourself. It’s interesting, and it’s a great value, because that pile of meat is not kidding around. That’s not to mention the very generous bowl of free (and tasty!) tortilla chips and sauces that comes with the meal. It’s not just a good value, however: it’s quite tasty, too.
Cinnamon Bun at Bakerbots Baking
I’ve heard the cinnamon bun at Bakerbots referred to as one of the best in the city, and yeah, that sounds about right. It’s absolutely fantastic, with a slightly crispy exterior and a gooey (but not overly gooey and sweet, like a Cinnabon) interior. The pastry itself is top-notch, with a nice chewy texture and a flavour that ensures that the cinnamon bun isn’t just one-note sweet. Is it the best in the city? It could be!
Jokbal at Hanyang Jokbal
I mean, look at that glorious pile of pork. Do you even need me to say anything? Jokbal is a Korean dish featuring braised pig trotters; I tried the half and half, which is half jokbal and half bossam (pork belly, if I recall correctly). You eat it wrapped in lettuce with some of the tasty sides and condiments on the table, and yeah. It’s delicious. Again: look at it.
Location: 4941 Dundas Street West, Etobicoke
When you’re in the mood, there’s nothing that hits the spot quite like a hearty, flavourful, bubbling hot Korean stew.
(Well okay fine, as a person who generally doesn’t like food to be so hot that you’re at risk of burning yourself, I could do without the “bubbling hot” part — but since the hot stone bowl is part of the package, I guess I’ll allow it.)
I ordered the ugeojikug, which the menu describes as “cabbage hangover soup made in a beef broth with rice.”
It’s very good. The soup is absolutely crammed with cabbage and sliced beef, and the broth is slightly spicy and profoundly beefy. The beef was a bit on the tough side, but everything else is so tasty that this is never a particularly big deal. In particular, the soup itself has a very satisfying beefy flavour; they could have served that broth on its own and I would have left happy.
Location: 4916 Yonge Street, North York
Gamjatang (A.K.A. pork bone soup) is one of those dishes that might sound a bit intimidating on paper, since the bones in question come from the spine of the pig, which isn’t exactly a common cut of meat. But it’s so good.
(I was about to say “done well, it’s so good” but then I realized that I’ve never had a bad version of this dish. I’m sure they’re out there, but I guess it’s hard to completely mess up, because it’s always tasty.)
The version at Mapo Gamjatang was especially delicious, with a super flavourful broth and surprisingly generous (and ultra-tender) chunks of pork. Sometimes you have to work hard to find the meat on the bones in this dish, but this particular version featured a shocking amount of tasty pork. It’s delightful.
It’s a great deal, too. The regular bowl (large is an option, but trust me, regular is plenty) costs 13 bucks and comes with a generous (and tasty) assortment of banchan.