I love Korean food and after the fabulous friends I made while living in Korea, it’s the food I miss most. Yeah, there is some good Korean food in Toronto – in fact, there are a few restaurants that quite frankly rock – and I often cook my own Korean food at home but I still miss Korean food sometimes. You see, some things just aren’t available here or it’s just not the same. Thankfully, every once in a while I’m able to find a new restaurant that brings one of my favourites alive for me – The Manna being my latest find.
But there’s still some Korean food I miss.
Side note: I really need to explore the Korean restaurants in North York because I really don’t know that area well. I’ve been told there are some good places up there. Anyone up for eating out with me? It’s soo much more fun with friends! Recommendations on where to find good versions of any of the food listed below are greatly appreciated!
What Korean food do I miss?
Korean street food – Korea does street food better than just about any country in the world. Some of it is available in Toronto like tteokbokki (떡볶이, rice cake in a spicy sauce usually with fish cake and cabbage) but I miss all the street food venders. There’s nothing like grabbing some tteokbokki, odeng (오뎅, fish cake using served on a stick – make sure to grab some broth too in the winter), sundae (순대, the Korean version of blood sausage with noodles), or dalkkochi (닭꼬치, spicy chicken on a stick – my favourite street food) at a street vender. Other popular street food I miss include roasted corn on the cob (옥수수), red bean stuffed fish bread (잉어빵, red bean stuffed pastry shaped like a fish) or the Korean version of French fries.
Daeji Galbi – Yeah, you can get daeji galbi (돼지갈비, marinated BBQ pork) in Toronto and I’ve had some that are decent but nothing compares to my memories of daeji galbi from Seoul. Perhaps I’ve built it up in my mind but nothing I’ve tried in Toronto tastes as good. A friend recommended that I just cook my own… hmm… that would be great for my next dinner party!
Shabu Shabu – While not technically Korean, I used to eat shabu shabu regularly with my EG family – my academy co-workers. How could I not love a meal which had everything – yummy beef, soup that we always spiced up, veggies, mushrooms, a super delicious dipping sauce AND a rice porridge made from leftover broth and an egg. There are apparently two places that do a good shabu shabu in Toronto but this is a dish that needs at least two people so… want to come with me?
Bokbunja-ju – I could never decide which I liked better bekseju (백세주, Korean rice wine) or bokbunja-ju (복분자주, Korean black raspberry wine) while I was living in Korea. However, since bokbunja-ju isn’t available in the LCBO (Ontario’s liquor store), it’s become the wine I crave most. It is available in some restaurants but no one ever wants to share a bottle with me. *sad face*
Seafood – Korea is a small peninsula (especially compared to Canada) so the sea is never far away. This means the seafood in Korea is always fresh – in fact, there are several fish markets where you can go pick out your fish or seafood and eat what you bought. I’m used to farmer’s markets with fruit and veggies being that fresh here but not seafood (Toronto is in the middle of Canada, the sea/ocean really isn’t close at all). As a huge fan of pretty much all seafood I was in foodie heaven. Whether it was the giant prawns I had in Anmyeondo (안면도) or Boryeong (보령); the delicious grilled fish in Sokcho (속초); or the all-you-can-eat clams, mussels and oysters in Boryeong… the seafood always rocked. Plus if you are going to eat live octopus, it needs to be fresh!
Anju – Anju (안주) is a catch-all word for all the food that you eat with alcohol, basically bar food. The main difference is a lot of it comes free (like banchan) when you order drinks in a bar. My absolute favourite – cheesy corn (sorry, I actually don’t know the Korean word for this) which I used to hone my chopstick skills to perfection. Other great anju include Wa Bar’s potatoes (different kinds of fried potatoes and French fries), ojingeochae (오징어채, dried squid – it goes really well with beer), sausages, and snacks like coloured popcorn or peanuts. You always get something when you order alcohol or if you didn’t eat enough dinner, there’s usually a food menu too.
Thankfully, there are good Korean restaurants here in Toronto (and more than I need to explore) and I can cook many of my favourite Korean dishes. But there are still some things I miss. Although I noticed a trend while writing this article, most of the food I missed was “social” food – food I would eat while out with friends. I miss that togetherness, the Korean fondness for 같이 (together), as a part of my eating habits.
What about you? Is there any Korean food you miss? Any Korean food you can’t find easily in your home country? Any recommendations of places in Toronto I can find any of the above foods? Anyone want to eat out with me? ^^