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Charcoal and Salt

Posted by Jason Finestone / Reviewed on February 22, 2012 / review policy

Charcoal Salt Restaurant TorontoCharcoal and Salt is situated on the northern tip of Yonge Street's Koreatown just south of Finch. A barbecue joint that does not specialize in a particular breed or cut of meat — as is the case with many in Korea — Charcoal and Salt offers table-top grills, dolsolt dishes, beer and soju sets and a complimentary array of banchan (side dishes) for their patrons.

My relatively recent return from Korea has left me with mixed emotions regarding my day-to-day dining experiences. The communality, the interaction, the excitement of the average meal is seldom matched in the Toronto restaurant landscape. Perhaps that's an effect of travel, but that's the state of mind I currently find myself in.

Charcoal and SaltAround every corner, at all hours of the day and night, barbecue restaurants dominate the Korean eating scene. After an extended absence from the cook-table eatery, C&S was suggested to me by my friend Y.J. — a native of Seoul, now living in Toronto.

Charcoal and SaltWith only 10 tables in the restaurant, my friend and I were seated unfortunately close to the drafty doorway. Our server greeted us timidly and this was about the most attention we received during the course of our meal. Perhaps it was my feeble attempt to place our order in broken Korean but our tea was never replenished, our water was never brought, and it was overwhelmingly difficult to flag down our server for re-ups on our bottomless side dishes or helpings of ssamjang (mung bean paste).

Charcoal and SaltAs is customary, we were required to order one serving per person of the cuts of meat on offer. After much deliberation, or meal consisted of samgyepsol (sliced pork belly) and Anshim Gui (sliced beef tenderloin) and a kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew with tofu and pork). The meat was all of very high quality. The protein was tender and our spicy jjigae came to the table at a rolling boil, with aromatic steam and a peppery bite. The beef was served with several white mushroom caps and a few rings of onion, and the lettuce, sesame leaves, cabbage and pajeori (green onion salad) were all spot on.

Charcoal and SaltI must say, I was disappointed to be cooking on an electric grill instead of over a charcoal flame as the restaurant's name suggests. Maybe it was wishful thinking. Are they saving on property insurance? Either way, the smoky, flame-licked taste was one element that was lacking. For charcoal BBQ try Se Jong on Bloor West.

While the service was sparse, overall the experience left me a little nostalgic. They even comped our jjigae in the end! I guess my fractured Hangul amounted to something, after all.

Charcoal and Salt Toronto



jay / February 22, 2012 at 01:06 pm
I've never seen a Korean restaurant in Toronto that has charcoal grills. I heard it was against the law to have them in Ontario. Can someone prove me wrong?
vee / February 22, 2012 at 02:38 pm
Seoul House @ Yonge and Steeles has a couple charcoal grills by the windows. It was about a year ago when I last went.

Call them to confirm.

180 Steeles Avenue West, Vaughan, ON
(905) 709-1593
Elena / February 22, 2012 at 04:16 pm
It's modern to use electric grills now. Even back home in Korea. A lot of people don't like the smoke from it and there's the debate of charcoal food gives cancer. So since then, some places have changed to using electric grills. And they're way easier to clean. Many benefits for restaurants' uses. Though it doesn't give charcoal flavour that some people love. I myself dont mind either.

This place isn't bad in my opinion. It's new, maybe that's why the service was lacking. It was just another typical korean restaurant vibe. But the side dishes is fresh, tasty, and had a variety. Koreans always look and taste the side dishes to judge the resturant.
jane / February 23, 2012 at 06:10 pm
i haven't been here but just north of the area at yonge and clark is sariwon. high end korean bbq at it's finest.
Dale replying to a comment from Elena / February 24, 2012 at 11:09 pm
I did find a place with a charcoal grill near Yonge and Finch -- it's called "Ogul Bogul", next door to Owl of Minerva.
However, the charcoal grill is outdoors only and obviously eating out there would be dependent upon the weather.

Personally, I like the idea of charcoal grills, but the smoke is absolutely too much to deal with sometimes. I'm a fan of the butane-powered grills.
Jason / March 22, 2012 at 05:06 pm
If you want charcoal in that neighborhood, there are a lot of Persian restaurants just north of finch
YJ Bae / April 5, 2012 at 07:28 pm
The BEST KOREAN BBQ Restaurant in Toronto?
#1 Dahn Korean Restaurant
(food pics -
north of galleria market on yonge st. after finch
#2 Sa ri Won
#3 Charcoal and Salt

itchyone / July 17, 2012 at 04:49 pm
This is my new favorite spot for Korean BBQ. Get the BBQ Soju/Beer Combo ..... great deal. I haven't had the BBQ on the electric grill yet ... as we had it on the butane/bbq plate set up. Meat was great, side dishes were great (love the kimchi here, and I would go just for that). Damn ..... now I need to go get my fix tonite!
itchyone / July 17, 2012 at 04:53 pm
I'd probably agree with YJ on his listing of top BBQ places ... but then again, at Dahn and Sariwon're paying a bit more.

Fancier BBQ restaurants

1) Dahn
2) Sariwon
3) Seoul House

Day to Day places ....

1) Charcoal and Salt
2) Oh Geul Boh Geul (only for their outdoor Charcoal BBQ)
3) Cho Won

water damage repair south salt lake / August 31, 2012 at 02:38 am
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Thiago daLuz / March 28, 2013 at 03:40 pm
And here I thought I was going to get somewhere looking for water damage repair in Phoenix, and instead I stumble on this. That is some beautiful looking food. Charcoal does a meal good!

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