Review: Song Cooks Restaurant

Song Cooks is located in the strip mall at the corner of Yonge and Steeles, just behind the Korean supermarket Galleria. This hidden gem offers many delicious and authentic Korean cuisine. The restaurant has consistently been my go-to place whenever I’m craving for some Korean dishes and I didn’t want to wait in line.

What sets this restaurant apart from the others in the area is that they offer two different styles of dining. The left side of the restaurant is what I called the ‘normal’ style – just the standard tables and chairs. The right side, however, is quite unique. They offer a more traditional Korean style – with low tables and heated floor. The heated floors are great in the winter. Who wouldn’t want warm tushies while eating a delicious bowl of tofu soup?

Banchan from Song Cooks
Banchan from Song Cooks

From my experience, Song Cooks usually serves 3-4 different banchans (반찬, side dishes). Though sometime I crave for more variety, the banchans here are simple, just a little something to nibble on while I wait for the main dishes. Tonight, we had kimchi (김치, spicy fermented cabbage) and kaktugi (깍두기, spicy fermented radish ), cheongpomuk muchim (청포묵무침, mung bean jelly) and japchae (잡채, glass noodles).

Every time I come to Song Cooks, I get reminded just how delicious kimchi can be. The kimchi here have never disappointed me and I always get the side dish refilled. The mung bean jelly has a very unique texture – it’s chewy like noodles. The jelly is drizzled in soy sauce with a little bit of pepper flakes. There’s not a lot of heat packed in the dish, but I’d imagine this dish would be perfect for summer! I was slightly disappointed about the japchae though. The noodles were drier that I would’ve liked. Needless to say, that was the only side dish that we didn’t ask for seconds.

While Song Cooks is famous for their jajangmyun (자장면, noodles with black bean sauce), we decided to go for something different. We ended up ordering three main dishes between the four of us – the JTF “Army Stew” (부대찌개, budae jjigae), Grilled Mackerel and the stir fried squid (오징어 볶음, ojingeo bokkeum). The main dishes were brought out promptly after finishing the first round of banchans. That’s what I love the most about Song Cooks. Food gets on the table, fast!

Buddae jjigae from Song Cooks
Buddae jjigae from Song Cooks

The first one up is the JTF Army Stew. Where do I even begin with this deliciousness? It’s a Korean stew served at the table over a butane burner. The hearty stew combines influences from the West (spam, sausages) and Korea (gochujang soup base, rice cake). Add in a healthy dose of cabbage, onions, tofu, ground beef and ramyun! The soup itself is very flavourful, with all the different types of ingredients. I love sharing this dish with my friends. The menu says that it can serve 3-4 people, and I definitely agree with that. 

The stir-fried squid from Song Cooks
The stir-fried squid from Song Cooks

The stir-fried squid was delicious too! Don’t let that fiery red colour fool you, but the dish is actually more sweet than spicy. The onions add that different dimension to the sauce. The sauce tasted amazing with rice on the side. The only complaint that I have is that there’s not enough squid! 

The mackerel from Song Cooks
The mackerel from Song Cooks

The grilled mackerel came last. The fish was very simple – salted and grilled. The mackerel was very fresh and very flavourful. With or without the fresh lemon juice, the fish was fantastic.

Service

The service here is pretty good. All the wait staff I’ve encountered here are very friendly and they are very knowledgeable about the dishes they serve. Don’t be afraid to ask for recommendations! I’ve tried several dishes that I probably would’ve overlooked if it wasn’t for their recommendation. Though the decor is quite minimal, the restaurant is very spacious yet retaining a very homey feel.

Overall

Song Cooks is a restaurant that serves delicious and high quality authentic Korean cuisine. It doesn’t hurt that the prices are very affordable. It’s also a great place for larger groups as there are party rooms at the back.

Restaurant Details

**This article is the first in a series of Korean food posts by Sally, a twenty-something food enthusiast. All pictures Sally’s. Stay tuned for her bio with her next article.

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