SONG COOK's authentic Korean restaurant review: Yonge & Steeles
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.
their business card showing address and map, courtesy of infamouskid
and their menu.