Initially, I wasn’t planning to go to Koryo because I didn’t see anything on the menu that could be vegan other than bibimbap. But a Korean friend of mine said it was her favourite Korean restaurant in the area, with a more traditional menu than many of the Korean/Chinese restaurants in Toronto, so I decided to give it a shot.
After analyzing the menu, I still only saw one dish on the menu that could easily be made vegan.
I could have asked about making a vegan tteokbokki (떡볶이, spicy stir-fried rice cakes), and maybe there could be a soup option, but the menu clearly states that many (if not all) of their soups are made with a beef bone broth, so that ruled out all of the tofu soup options, and made me apprehensive about ordering soup.
They have a vegetarian leaf symbol on their menu, but it’s not beside any of their dishes. Not even the “vegetable only bibimbap”. So maybe they put the legend on the menu but then forgot to apply it to their dishes?
I managed to ask a couple of questions and order two dishes. I wanted to ask more questions, but I went there at a very busy time, and didn’t get to speak much with my server.
I’m not sure if any of the banchan, (반찬, side dishes) at Koryo are vegan. Our server was so busy and difficult to call over, so I didn’t get to ask many questions. I would guess that some of the pickled vegetables could be vegan, but I would ask before eating them. The beans might be vegan too, but they are sometimes made with honey instead of sugar. The lettuce with a sesame sauce might also be an option, but I’m not sure what else is in the sauce. I stayed away from the side dishes, but my non-vegan friend had them and enjoyed them.
The nah-mul bibimbap (나물비빔밥, a rice dish with vegetables) says “only vegetables” in the description, but I still asked for no egg, just in case. This bibimbap only comes in a regular bowl, not in a stone bowl.
The bibimbap had a nice variety of vegetables (including mushrooms, carrot, cucumber, sprouts, spinach, and beet, I believe), and had a jelly-like substance that I had never seen before. I believe it was nokdu-muk (녹두묵, mung bean jelly) and it was not bad. It has a very subtle flavour, so if you like something with a texture similar to jello, you’ll probably enjoy it.
The sauce for the bibimbap was good and moderately spicy.
I asked if the hot stone japchae with rice (돌솥 잪채덮밥, a sweet potato noodle dish with vegetables), could be made without the beef. After consulting with the kitchen, they said that was fine. There was nothing else in the description, so I didn’t know that I also had to ask for no egg. Mine came with egg, which was disappointing for me, but completely my own fault for not asking more questions. It is kind of a rolled up omelette, so it was easy to remove, but learn from my mistake and ask for it without egg if you are vegan!
The japchae was served in a stone bowl (dolsot), which was in a wooden holder so that you could touch it and move it around without getting burnt. It looked nice and was quite helpful. I wish more places put their stone bowl in a wooden holder!
The japchae was very flavourful and tasty. The noodles were flat, not the typical rounded glass noodle. My only complaint is that there was a lot of onion, but I’m sure that wouldn’t be a problem for a lot of people. The onion also seemed a bit undercooked and crispy to me, but I’m an onion-hater, so I don’t really know if that’s a bad thing to most people. It had a piece of broccoli on the top, which was nice, and very minimal vegetables other than the onion. The white rice was good, and of course the meal kept very hot in the stone bowl.
Each dish that I ordered had a fried piece of lotus root (연근) on top. It was crispy and delicious. It was my first time trying lotus root and I loved it. I wish I could have ordered a bowl of them.
The service was decent. It was very busy when I went there at around 6pm on a Saturday. Our server was very busy, so it was a bit difficult to get her attention, especially when trying to get our bill. But the place was busy, so it was understandable.
I give this restaurant a 3.5 out of 5. The japchae was good, and the bibimbap was pretty good, but there weren’t many options for vegans, their dishes didn’t have clear descriptions (leading to me getting japchae with egg on top), and the service was not the best. It wasn’t a bad experience, but I’ve had better.
Just the Facts
- Name: Koryo Korean Restaurant and Bar
- Address: 4922 Yonge Street (just North of Yonge and Sheppard)
- Phone: 416-551-2826