Food & Drink

SONG COOK's authentic Korean restaurant review: Yonge & Steeles

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 24th, 2013 9:29 am
Tags:
None
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A

SONG COOK's authentic Korean restaurant review: Yonge & Steeles

I was out shoe shopping today to Today's Sportwear, at Yonge & Steeles, a great place for sneakers btw. really good prices. the cheapest place i know for shoes, and i went into the wrong way to their parking lot and came across this place. they have a horrid location i think. you cannot see the restaurant at all from the street and i didn't notice any signs visible from the street level either. (correction. there is a sign, albeit a very very small one with large korean writing and only english being, 'song cook', with no indication that it is a restaurant.)
I'm not entirely certain about the address. it's possibly 72 Steeles Ave West. (address confirmed to be 72 Steeles) it's located behind the Moores clothing store. again, it is NOT visible from the street. you have to go deeper into the parking lot. i didn't even notice the front door, until i saw a placard across the parking lot advertizing, 'dolsot bibimbob & jajangmyun'.

we park, and i see the door, and i was like, wtf, this looks like fine dining. the decor was really really well done. i mean, this is by far the best looking korean restaurant i've ever come across in the country. apparently it is new, only 3 weeks since grand opening, and it is obvious a LOT of money went into this place. dark stained wood everywhere, designated waiting area with chairs and tables, and books! the washroom was very clean as well.

and this place is massive. it must be at LEAST 200+ capable, and possibly 300. by far the biggest korean restaurant i've come across. they also have a section dedicated to floor seating, on a raised platform. i think there were around a dozen tables in that floor set up.

the staff were also by far the most courteous bunch i've ever seen in a korean restaurant. very attentive and eager to please. but that might have been like that because i went around 5:30, and the place wasn't quite busy yet. but i was surprised that the joint still had quite a bit of business at that hour. there must have been about 20 tables i saw eating, and a steady flow coming in, as i was leaving around 6:15

finally, the food!
we took the placard's reco and went with dolsot bibimbob and jajangmyun. and the obligatory gamjatang. somehow, having good gamjatang has become the gauge of how good a korean restaurant is in toronto. kinda strange, but i can't say no to pork. it's a lifelong affair that will not wilt.

dolsot bibimbob $7.50, was good. but tbh, dolsot bibimbob is pretty f'ing hard to mess up. you really have to be an idiot to mess this up. you get a stone bowl, you get rice, and you get toppping, and you get your customer to season it to their liking.

jajangmyun, $7, was very good. i would rank this #1 in toronto for me for the moment. good black bean sauce, and noodles were fresh and had great texture.

gamjatang, $7, was good. it looks like they twice boil the pork. it wasn't gamy, like some other places. i personally don't mind the gaminess that much. but i can see how some people would prefer this version over some others out there. and it was served with a sprinkling of perilla seeds, like it is supposed to. very few places use perilla seeds. i like my gamjatang spicier than the version here, but it was still good.

only two sides are served here. kimchi in claypot and gaktugi in claypot. both are good. i wasn't as sour as i like them, but still good stuff.

they have a varied menu, they do a lot of chinese korean stuff, and a lot of korean stuff as well. couple of tables around me ordered Galbijim, braised beef ribs, and they looked pretty dang good. didn't pay attention to the price though. i might try this next time, if the price is good. most items were priced really well at below $10, so it is quite budget friendly. i'd take my date here fosho!

back to the decor a bit.
i was very impressed with the set up, but there were a few things i think they can improve.
their chairs are of very low quality. it really made me scratch my head. there was so much good wood used everywhere, and the tables were also solid, but they opted for wobbly cheap allen key assembled chairs.
they have these huge pictures, lighted to boot, of some of their specialties by the kitchen. it really cheapens the place and gives it that self serve fast food look.
there were some questionable 'personal touches'. i saw a miniature park bench with plush dolls sitting on it, and some of the decorations looked like they were hung up with thumb tacks. they have SIX pressure rice cookers, fully visible to the dining area. they have different kinds of rice in the menu, and you can upgrade your white rice to mixed grain rice, but i don't personally think, having servers pack rice into bowls in full view of the dining area is a good thing. the 'rice station' is in front of the kitchen, but also right in the hall. i thought it was a strange set up. and there is a cheap stereo by the entrance, that looks really out of place in such a 'grand' set up.

i'm only pointing those out because, man, i am sure they have a winner here, and it would look even better, if they made some tweaks. i really wish the place does well. this place is going to BLOW UP, once the new Galleria supermarket opens. the parking lots are right next to each other.

when i got home, i looked up the name, and some puzzle pieces in my head came together. when i got the menu book at the restaurant, i was thinking, 'hmm,,, this looks a bit familiar', but didn't think much of it at the time, as the place was brand new. it turns out, they had a restaurant in korean town called 'Song Cook's Korean Chili'. but that place was TINY, like less than 20 tables, and definitely not grand like this. they had a self serve ice cream station for pete's sake! i was sad to see it close, as i thought the place was doing well. but i guess it turns out that place was doing REALLY well. but the food is markedly better than what i remember at the old place. i am returning for sure. and quite possibly, often.

Image

their business card showing address and map, courtesy of infamouskid
Image

and their menu.
Image

facebook account.

http://www.facebook.com/SongCooks

website.

http://www.songcook.com/
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
334 replies
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Jul 29, 2005
5411 posts
555 upvotes
Mississauga
Wow, that sounds like it would be a place I'd like to try out!
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A
slowtyper wrote:
Nov 27th, 2010 11:46 pm
Sounds very strange IMO

how so?
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Deal Fanatic
Sep 2, 2008
9741 posts
428 upvotes
wtf i thought I wrote more than that...maybe I accidentally erased it before I hit submit.

A huge korean restaurant with super nice quality decor already sounds very odd to me, I guess its just not what I'm used to but I can't imagine it.

And then selling the same food for the same price as elsewhere (cheap $7 gamjatang)...in a hidden away crappy location....just doesn't make sense to me what they're plan is
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A
slowtyper wrote:
Nov 27th, 2010 11:55 pm
wtf i thought I wrote more than that...maybe I accidentally erased it before I hit submit.

A huge korean restaurant with super nice quality decor already sounds very odd to me, I guess its just not what I'm used to but I can't imagine it.

And then selling the same food for the same price as elsewhere (cheap $7 gamjatang)...in a hidden away crappy location....just doesn't make sense to me what they're plan is
lol.
to be fair, the quality of service in the asian cuisine sector has been improving overall.

in korea, people are super nice at restaurants now, but it wasn't always so. the service industry as a whole took a great leap in improving the standard starting around 15-20 years ago. there's a sense of impersonal courtesy, that is both pleasant and distant.

the location surprised me a lot as well. there is no way i would have found this place, if i didn't get lost. but i don't think the place has anything to worry about. word of mouth + the galleria factor will guarantee that they get business.

but, the truth is YMMV is SUPER true in the resto biz. it's an incredibly tough business to be consistent.
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Deal Addict
User avatar
Sep 19, 2006
4049 posts
660 upvotes
Toronto
slowtyper wrote:
Nov 27th, 2010 11:55 pm
wtf i thought I wrote more than that...maybe I accidentally erased it before I hit submit.

A huge korean restaurant with super nice quality decor already sounds very odd to me, I guess its just not what I'm used to but I can't imagine it.

And then selling the same food for the same price as elsewhere (cheap $7 gamjatang)...in a hidden away crappy location....just doesn't make sense to me what they're plan is
They will hook you in with the low price and then jack up the price in a few months time....
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A
Pochacco wrote:
Nov 28th, 2010 12:19 pm
They will hook you in with the low price and then jack up the price in a few months time....

i doubt that.
most of the popular dishes are priced about the same between the competition.

i slept in until 12 and just didn't feeling like cooking, so as soon as i got up, i went back today for lunch.

got their 'yangpooni bibimbab', $14 for two, and 'soondubu jigae', $4 without rice. i felt like trying the 'galbijim', $8, but i wasn't 'allowed'. the wife is addicted to bibimbab... time for a new one with plough experience...
yangpooni bibimbab is just a giant bibimbab, meant to be a communal dish. served and mixed in a big-ass tin basin.
soondubu jigae was quite good. again, not as spicy as i like, but i have a much more tolerant palate to the spices than the norm, so i'd imagine it is just about right for most people.

and kimchi and gaktugi tasted much better today than it did yesterday.

it was 1:30 when i went, and the place was packed. the service wasn't as good as it was yesterday, our server was a bit green, she was actually shaking a bit, but still pleasant service. lot of asian restos don't give me a feeling of tipping well, because they just ignore you a lot of the times, but i've been tipping well here.

i also opted for the floor seating in the raised platform area today, and to the delight of my ass, the floor was HEATED. i normally don't like floor seating though. my back hurts when i sit like that, as i can't lean on anything, and i hate it if anyone near me has athlete's foot or something... not today, so i got lucky. but there was a 2 year old, from the table behind me, who kept leaning on my back for support. i didn't mind. it was super cute. she kept looking over, and i kept making faces. i actually engaged in brief convo with the two different tables around me. floor seating can do that, i think. makes the experience feel very communal, and almost as if you are at someone's house. i'd hate to be the server here though. they have to take their shoes off, when taking orders and serving, while in the raised platform area.
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 5, 2007
3416 posts
154 upvotes
GTA
We tried Song Cook this afternoon for lunch, we arrived around 1PM and the place was pretty much filled to capacity. We didn't have to wait due to the large seating capacity, I would estimate the seating is close to 3/4 of a normal Mandarin buffet restaurant. One thing I noticed right away was the modern deco, somewhat reminscent of Wasabi in Richmond Hill, more trendy than upscale. Other things I noticed was the Pork Bone Soup(Gamjatang) was $8(same price as Owl), however most items that I scanned on the menu were very reasonbly priced.

I ordered the beef black bean noodles(Jajangmyun)single serving $7, (the table next to us ordered the serving for 2 and it was a huge portion size)and the braised pork ribs(Galbijim)$8. My GF ordered the pork cutlet.

Personally I really enjoyed my beef black bean noodles, the texture of the noodles was 1st rate. I know they were not freshly made but they tasted as good as the noodles I have at Sun's at Pacific Mall. Excellent sauce that wasn't overpowering, and due to a sore mouth this was welcome. The braised ribs were very good also, my favorite part of it was the white radish that came with it, it had sucked up all the liquid and to me there is nothing better than a slow cooked radish. The sides included kimchi, which was good, I would have preferred to have had some spring onions in mine and I don't mind it being a little more seasoned, as I like my kimchi complex and intense but it was a good size serving and I appreciated it. My GF's pork cutlet was okay, hard for me to comment because it is not really my thing. Comp tea, small complaint, barely 4 oz in the glasses. If we hadn't ordered a ginger ale we would have been bothering the waitstaff a lot.

The service was solidly good and quick, I have never had anything but friendly and polite servers in Korean restaurants, so I wasn't surprised.

Overall I would say this is definitely a place that has a future if they maintain their pricing point and the quality of food. Our bill came out to just $26 tax in and we were filled to the brim. It will be interesting to see how they progress when they become more established in time, that is the test for a newbie on the block, but for now I have nothing but very good things to say about Song Cook. Looking forward to trying new items on the menu on our next visit.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A
wolverine07 wrote:
Nov 28th, 2010 6:01 pm
We tried Song Cook this afternoon for lunch, we arrived around 1PM and the place was pretty much filled to capacity. We didn't have to wait due to the large seating capacity, I would estimate the seating is close to 3/4 of a normal Mandarin buffet restaurant. One thing I noticed right away was the modern deco, somewhat reminscent of Wasabi in Richmond Hill, more trendy than upscale. Other things I noticed was the Pork Bone Soup(Gamjatang) was $8(same price as Owl), however most items that I scanned on the menu were very reasonbly priced.

I ordered the beef black bean noodles(Jajangmyun)single serving $7, (the table next to us ordered the serving for 2 and it was a huge portion size)and the braised pork ribs(Galbijim)$8. My GF ordered the pork cutlet.

Personally I really enjoyed my beef black bean noodles, the texture of the noodles was 1st rate. I know they were not freshly made but they tasted as good as the noodles I have at Sun's at Pacific Mall. Excellent sauce that wasn't overpowering, and due to a sore mouth this was welcome. The braised ribs were very good also, my favorite part of it was the white radish that came with it, it had sucked up all the liquid and to me there is nothing better than a slow cooked radish. The sides included kimchi, which was good, I would have preferred to have had some spring onions in mine and I don't mind it being a little more seasoned, as I like my kimchi complex and intense but it was a good size serving and I appreciated it. My GF's pork cutlet was okay, hard for me to comment because it is not really my thing. Comp tea, small complaint, barely 4 oz in the glasses. If we hadn't ordered a ginger ale we would have been bothering the waitstaff a lot.

The service was solidly good and quick, I have never had anything but friendly and polite servers in Korean restaurants, so I wasn't surprised.

Overall I would say this is definitely a place that has a future if they maintain their pricing point and the quality of food. Our bill came out to just $26 tax in and we were filled to the brim. It will be interesting to see how they progress when they become more established in time, that is the test for a newbie on the block, but for now I have nothing but very good things to say about Song Cook. Looking forward to trying new items on the menu on our next visit.

hey! we were there around the same time!
glad you like the place.

i personally do not think korean restaurants know how to make good 'tonkatsu'.
i've had tonkasu at Kenzo, technically korean, but they are zainichi (ethnic koreans with permenant residence in japan), and it was more like how it is in japan. wasn't fantastic, but i think it's the best i had in toronto.
korean version is too thinned out like veal, and although i do enjoy it sometimes, it just isn't as good as the japanese version.

and did you ask for more tea? i personally never do, because i'm a cold water guzzler. i just ask for a pitcher of water always. but, i'm pretty sure that they'll keep pouring it for you, if you ask, although i think it should even come to that. they should always top it up, without asking.
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 5, 2007
3416 posts
154 upvotes
GTA
ippon wrote:
Nov 28th, 2010 7:45 pm
hey! we were there around the same time!
glad you like the place.

i personally do not think korean restaurants know how to make good 'tonkatsu'.
i've had tonkasu at Kenzo, and it was more like how it is in japan. wasn't fantastic, but i think it's the best i had in toronto.
korean version is too thinned out like veal, and although i do enjoy it sometimes, it just isn't as good as the japanese version.

and did you ask for more tea? i personally never do, because i'm a cold water guzzler. i just ask for a pitcher of water always. but, i'm pretty sure that they'll keep pouring it for you, if you ask, although i think it should even come to that. they should always top it up, without asking.

Thanks again for the recommendation, we were seated towards the middle/left section. I had to convince my gf to try it today, we had just had Owl the day before and she wasn't really in the mood for back to back Korean. So she sort of looked bummed out, but I think she would have to admit it, it was worth trying. Keep the item recommendations coming, we tried the braised ribs that you mentioned you didn't order yesterday. It's pretty good, the meat came off the bone without much effort. I love the radish part of it...That's a thumbs up! Cheers.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 15, 2010
2726 posts
74 upvotes
Can you post the menu?
Thanks.

Do they have this drink:
Dessert punch with persimmon, cinnamon, and ginger
/ 수정과 / Sujunggwa (or su jung gwa, su jeong gwa, soo jeong gwa, sujeonggwa)?

http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/sujunggwa

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cook ... index.html

Do you know where I can this drink in Markham and surrounding area?

If I make this drink- do I really need the dried persimmon?
Just ginger, cinnamon sticks, sugar and water might be enough for a tasty drink?

Thanks!
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 24, 2005
9454 posts
977 upvotes
N/A
jaxx lite wrote:
Nov 28th, 2010 11:12 pm
Can you post the menu?
Thanks.

Do they have this drink:
Dessert punch with persimmon, cinnamon, and ginger
/ 수정과 / Sujunggwa (or su jung gwa, su jeong gwa, soo jeong gwa, sujeonggwa)?

http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/sujunggwa

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cook ... index.html

Do you know where I can this drink in Markham and surrounding area?

If I make this drink- do I really need the dried persimmon?
Just ginger, cinnamon sticks, sugar and water might be enough for a tasty drink?

Thanks!

i'll see if they have a take out menu next time i go, and scan that.

i am not sure if they have sujungkwa. it is actually not very common for korean restaurants to serve deserts. quite rare, actually. people just go elsewhere for deserts.

and you cannot make sujungkwa without dried persimmon. it is THE most important ingredient.

you can buy them in cans at korean grocers, btw.
“Children see magic because they look for it.”
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 5, 2007
3416 posts
154 upvotes
GTA
ippon wrote:
Nov 28th, 2010 3:00 pm
i doubt that.
most of the popular dishes are priced about the same between the competition.

i slept in until 12 and just didn't feeling like cooking as soon as i got up, i went back today for lunch.

got their 'yangpooni bibimbab', $14 for two, and 'soondubu jigae', $4 without rice. i felt like trying the 'galbijim', $8, but i wasn't 'allowed'. the wife is addicted to bibimbab... time for a new one with plough experience...yangpooni bibimbab is just a giant bibimbab, meant to be a communal dish. served and mixed in a big-ass tin basin.
soondubu jigae was quite good. again, not as spicy as i like, but i have a much more tolerant palate to the spices than the norm, so i'd imagine it is just about right for most people.

Hey Bro,

I had to laugh at this comment, my girlfriend, actually fiance is quite the finicky person also. She likes pork, not spicy but sweet, garlic and onion flavours. Did you see anything on the menu that may cater to her palate? I'm going to order what I want, even if she objects. :) Though as I said I hear you sometimes I will relent and go with what she wants just to avoid the tantrums. ;)
× < >

Top