Review: Korean Tacos at Jang Bang in Toronto
I love Korean food, that’s no secret but you may not know that I also love food in general – especially spicy food or anything that’s full of flavour. I often plan vacations around food and cooking – for example, when I went to Thailand for seven weeks I knew that one of things I wanted to do was taking a cooking class because I really wanted to learn how to cook Pad Thai (among other dishes). And when I went to L.A. last year, I wanted to try Korean tacos because they had been so hyped up online. I did taking the cooking class in Thailand – and I make a mean Pad Thai and spring rolls – but I wasn’t able to try Korea tacos in L.A. unfortunately.
So when I heard about Korean tacos coming to Toronto – I love the internet, it’s such a wealth of information – I knew I had to go and try it. Jang Bang, a bar at College and Bathurst, was holding a pop-up event last Saturday (December 3rd) with $8 Korean taco samplers – three tacos for $8, how could I not go?!? So I rounded up three friends and we headed over to check it out.
Korean tacos for four and soju to wash it all down
We arrived at 7pm and had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. No worries about that as I kinda expected it. The staff were friendly and seated us as quickly as they could. One gripe – and this is a common gripe with restaurants and bars in Toronto – was we had to wait for another 5-10 minutes or so before someone came to our table to take our order. But perhaps I was just spoiled in Korea with their incredibly fast service! Once we ordered – Korean taco samplers all around and a bottle of soju to wash it down – the food and drinks came quickly which was great since we were all starved
I tried the “spicy dakgalbi” chicken taco first. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Korean food “dakgalbi” (닭갈비) is spicy grilled chicken. It was good, but not nearly as spicy as dakgalbi usually is. This is one of my common problems with Korean food in Toronto – it’s been dumbed down for us Canucks which really isn’t necessary, many of us love spicy food! But it was still good and I’d order it again – it would go well with beer – but it would be infinitely better if it was just a little spicier.
The second Korean taco I tried was the “gochujang pulled pork”. “Gochujang” (고추장) is a spicy red pepper fermented paste that’s a common condiment or ingredient in marinades in Korea. This was my least favourite taco as it tasted more like traditional pulled pork. Mind you, it still was good, I just couldn’t taste any Korean flavours in it. However, some of my friends like it better than the chicken.
The final Korean taco was the “sweet savoury beef bulgogi”. “Bulgogi” (불고기) is marinated barbecued beef. This was all of our favourites, hands down! I will be heading back to Jang Bang on the yumminess of this Korean taco (although I will definitely give the others another try). The bulgogi taco had just the right blend of sweet and spicy flavours that bulgogi is famous for. The soju also complimented it nicely.
Korean taco sampler at Jang Bang
All in all, a nice dinner for a fabulous price – although if you’re a guy, you might want to order another plate as the portion was perfect for me but probably a little small for a guy. However, if you were ordering food to go with your drinks – like the “second stage” of Korean drinking – than the portions would be fine. One suggestion would be some more tables as there was room for more, especially if they will be serving food regularly as was suggested.
I also loved the décor and ambience of Jang Bang as it totally reminded me of Hongdae in Seoul – and Sam (one of my friends) agreed. The black walls and intimateness of the place brought back memories of Tinpan (1 or 2) and Ho Bar (1-6) so I have to go back again and see what it’s like as a bar!
While this was a “pop-up” event, we were told that if it was successful – and it looked like it was – than they might develop a menu and serve food regularly starting at 5pm (Wed-Sun). I can’t wait to see the menu if they do! Regardless, I’ll definitely be going back.
Overall Rating: 4.3/5
Food: 4/5; Friendliness: 5/5; Service: 4/5