Review: Five Senses by Coreators

"Five Senses" by Coreators
“Five Senses” by Coreators

When I was invited to “Five Senses”, Coreators’ latest event, it was an easy sell as I love any kind of food events where I can sample different food. Add in the fact that I was attending with friends – always fun – and I was predisposed to enjoy the event. Plus, I’ve been to a few of their events before and support their mission so I was looking forward to “Five Senses” for a variety of reasons. But before I talk about the event, let me tell you a bit about Coreators.

What is Coreators?

They are a non-profit organization made up of mostly (perhaps all) twenty-somethings with the mission “to build and nurture the community of Korean Canadians who are involved in the creative field in any form or way.” (Mission quoted from their Facebook page.) I was first made aware of them just as they were forming,it must be two years ago now, and as someone who writes about Korean culture and pop culture, and who is creative myself; how could I not support them? Plus everyone I’ve met is super nice, always a plus in my book. So check out their Facebook page or website for more info!

Five Senses by Coreators

Okay, time to talk about the event itself. It was a night to experience five chefs’ (four Korean and one non-Korean) interpretations of traditional Korean cuisine. Beforehand, Coreators didn’t release any information on the dishes the chefs were going to make, probably to build suspense – which led to lots of speculation on my part so it worked, at least on me – but they did release a little about the chefs who were participating which was interesting.

Did I mention it was a contest too? The attendees got to vote on their favourite dish which was fun and led everyone at my table at least, to taste the food a little more seriously. Okay, I always do if I’m planning on writing about it but we all tried each dish and then talked about them – what we liked and what we didn’t – which added another dimension to the event.

At first, it was just the four people in my group but soon we included the two other guys sitting at our table (who turned out to be chefs themselves). To me at least, this made the event a little more fun – sharing opinions, being social, chatting with new people and eating food are all things I love.

So what did we eat?

Since “Five Senses” was an event all about food, it’s time to talk about the dishes that we tasted.

Dish #1 - Housemade Soon Tofu with Tomato Salad
Dish #1 – Housemade Soon Tofu with Tomato Salad

Housemade Soon Tofu with Tomato Salad

  • By Jin Choi

During the introduction of the dish, the one point that stood out to me was that it was a balance of 5 colours. And “balance” was a key word to describe this dish as it was also a lovely balance of flavours, as well as being wonderfully light and fresh. The sauce was delicious and worked well with the other ingredients without overpowering them. I’d definitely order this in a restaurant.

Dish #2 - Yook Mool Hui (Korean Beef Tartar with Chilled Soup)
Dish #2 – Yook Mool Hui (Korean Beef Tartar with Chilled Soup)

Yook Mool Hoi (Korean Beef Tartare with Chilled Soup)

  • By SungHo Moon

This dish was to represent the four seasons, as well as ying and yang. It was a lovely mix of flavours and textures. While I don’t eat beef tartare, or its Korean version, yookhoi (육회) often, when done well it can be delicious and this dish was definitely prepared well. The flavours and the differences in textures made it a delight to eat.

Dish #3 - Dduk Galbi Wellington
Dish #3 – Dduk Galbi Wellington

Dduk Galbi Wellington

  • By Seon il Nam

It was to be a melding of East and West. The dish had a nice sauce (you can’t really see it in the photo) but the pastry was heavy and detracted from the dish. Remove the pastry and it pretty good. Unfortunately, pastry is a pretty integral part of the dish with its Beef Wellington influence.

Dish #4 - Grilled Pork Belly with Grilled Onion Slaw and Gochujang Vinaigrette
Dish #4 – Grilled Pork Belly with Grilled Onion Slaw and Gochujang Vinaigrette

Grilled Pork Belly with Grilled Onion Slaw and Gochujang Vinaigrette

  • By Carlos de Veyra

When I first read the menu of items, this was the one that seemed the most Korean to me. In reality, the cut of the pork belly made it more Western – and was my main issue with it as my meat was dry. The slaw was nice as was the crispy lotus chip (actually that was the best part) but I was hoping for more flavour from the vinaigrette (it just tasted of gochujang, 고추장). Not bad, but I was expecting more from it.

Dish #5 - Sous Vide Chicken with GyuASang
Dish #5 – Sous Vide Chicken with GyuASang

Sous Vide Chicken with GyuASang

  • By Minsu Kim

This dish was totally not what I was expecting and I suspect I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn’t expecting a dumpling (gyuasang, 규아상). The chicken was delicious but again, based on the description I was expecting more of a samgyetang (삼계탕, ginseng chicken soup) flavour and instead of a dumpling, it was a rice ball (which was tasty but not a dumpling). For me, it lost points for not being what was described. Otherwise, I liked it.

Bonus dish - SooJungGwa Jello with Chocolate Ho Dduk
Bonus dish – SooJungGwa Jello with Chocolate Ho Dduk

Bonus: Dessert (SooJungGwa Jello with Chocolate Ho Dduk)

While not a part of the competition, I feel that I should still write about it if for no other reason than I often make and drink soojunggwa (수정과, a tradition Korean drink with persimmon, cinnamon and ginger). The jello was interesting if a bit cold (pretty sure it was frozen before being served) but the hodduk (호떡, filled pancake) was a little too crispy for my liking as I prefer them more chewy.

What did I like

The event itself and the food. I know I picked the dishes apart a bit but that was mainly because it was a competition, they all had good parts and I finished each dish so that should tell you that the food was decent. But the true beauty was the chance to sample the different dishes in a fun, relaxed social setting. It’s always fun to try different dishes and I enjoy seeing different chefs’ interpretations of dishes, or trying a fusion dish and seeing what it was influenced by. So the premise of the event and the food itself was all fun and made for a fun night with friends and strangers alike.

What could be improved

There was a bit of a delay in between each dish which could have been shorter as it would have allowed a little more flow to the event. I also wish we could have kept the “menu” that described the various dishes but they served as our ballot for voting on which dish we liked. Speaking of the “menus’, they were a little confusing (I took photos of them s I could refer back to them) so I would have loved to hear the chefs talk about their dishes afterwards. Okay, the chefs did speak after the food but most of them spoke in Korean so I couldn’t really follow it, only in bits and pieces. And I wasn’t the only non-Korean at the event, a short description in both languages would have been nice.

Who won?

The Yook Mool Hoi (Korean Beef Tartare with Chilled Soup) by SungHo Moon won by two votes, which coincidentally was the dish that all six of us at my table voted for. The Grilled Pork Belly with Grilled Onion Slaw and Gochujang Vinaigrette was the second place finisher. And just in case you’re curious, this is how I would rank the dishes:

  • Yook Mool Hoi (Korean Beef Tartare with Chilled Soup)
  • Housemade Soon Tofu with Tomato Salad
  • Sous Vide Chicken with Gyu A Sang
  • Grilled Pork Belly with Grilled Onion Slaw and Gochujang Vinaigrette
  • Dduk Galbi Wellington
The "Five Senses" venue
The “Five Senses” venue

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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