Friday, July 25, 2014Sunny 18°C
Restaurants

Helena's Magic Kitchen

Posted by Beverly Cheng / Reviewed on October 9, 2009 / review policy

09magickitchen_broccoliquiche.jpgHelena's Magic Kitchen is a landscape of meat pies, quiches and hearty home cooked dishes stretching as far as the eye can see. Despite the dimly lit subterranean feel of Village by the Grange food court, it has long been a microcosm of independent eateries offering global cuisine. magickitchen_salads.jpgSean Lee and his wife, Sunni Lim took on the business from Helena nearly four years ago. On the surface, it seems that little has changed from the Eastern European staples; however, upon closer inspection, the dishes do embody a distinctive Korean flair.

Rather than the dense, creamy custard of traditional French quiches, Magic Kitchen's broccoli quiche replicates the light, soft, silky texture of Gaeran-Jim (Korean egg custard). Sean assures me that it's "30% less fat than traditional recipes," since he uses milk rather than heavy cream. We opt for a combo ($5.30), which includes any slice of 'pie' and two side salads. Confronted by a technicolour myriad of veggies before me, we finally choose their curry lentil rice salad, along with their string beans simply tossed in a coarse sea salt and crushed black pepper. The beans are fresh, crisp and perfectly seasoned, while the rice salad is severely undercooked.

magickitchen_greenbeans.jpgI try Sean's claim to fame, the stuffed chicken with spinach. A meaty breast stuffed with creamy spinach is breaded and deep-fried. The crunchy exterior seals in the juicy meat and luscious spinach inside. It is quite tasty, yet not the least bit oily. I also try a latke with sour cream. The latke is flecked with carrots and is much doughier than the Ukrainian version. Rather, it is more reminiscent to Kamja-Jeon (Korean potato pancakes).

Beet salad proves to be a tad overcooked and the natural sweetness is masked by apple vinegar and sugar. Buckwheat salad with slices of radish, marks an entirely new sensory experience. I find it rather bland at first bite, but it leaves a pleasant earthy aftertaste.

magickitchen_brownrice2.jpgUkrainian and Korean food may seem like an odd coupling, but Helena's Magic Kitchen somehow makes it work effortlessly. Just be sure to beat the art students, high school kids, office workers and the Chinatown crew, as most items are completely sold out during the lunch rush. magickitchen_kitchenarea.jpgPhotos by Casey Cunningham.

Discussion

9 Comments

Yuck!!! / October 13, 2009 at 11:45 am
user-pic
One of the few place NOT to dine at in Village by the Grange. Looks can be deceiving. Did you try the cabbage rolls? Disgusting...cabbage leaf stuffed with Uncle Ben's rice...no meat...no flavour...no nothing! Everything they sell is tasteless.
Awesome replying to a comment from Yuck!!! / November 3, 2009 at 05:22 pm
user-pic
Hey, it's better than this guy says it is! The food is incredible! You must be obessed with meat if you think this food is terrible.
Freds / November 25, 2009 at 08:56 pm
user-pic
It's good, seems honest maybe a little over priced. Certainly home-made and rustic in a way. "incredible" and "disgusting" both seem like overstatement to me.
yu / March 4, 2010 at 11:48 am
user-pic
I think for a food court, this place is a bit overpriced - especially when most of your customers are poor art students. That being said, it is still worth it to eat here because the quality of the food - their quiches or pies - with two sides, is a good meal for a light lunch.
TORocker / December 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm
user-pic
Ordered 2 cabbage rolls w/2 sides. Since when do cabbage rolls have no meat in them?!!??! Cabbage stuffed with rice...no flavour...no meat. What a waste of $$$$$.
Emma replying to a comment from Awesome / June 27, 2012 at 05:21 pm
user-pic
Ate there today. I'm a vegetarian and while the mushroom pie was palatable (barely) both of the salad 'sides' I got with it were atrocious. The potato salad seems to have replaced the traditional mayonnaise with mustard. It's as though the sauce is composed entirely of mustard. Awful!

The review was right about the rice as well- it tasted like it hadn't even been cooked. Rice should never be crunchy, even if it's in a salad which was Sean's excuse.

Worst part? They refused to give me my money back because it's "Not their fault I no like the taste," I threatened to leave a bad review, and he gave me a quarter from the tip jar and told me to "Go way now."
sam / November 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm
user-pic
yah, this place is a little hit or miss. but great if you want something hot and casseroley with some veggie sides.
The mushroom pie is totally weird and slimey-ish. The meatloaf doesnt look flavourful and I can't speak to the quiches.

But the spinach stuffed chicken breast is great. and if you avoid the weirder looking sides, and just get green beans or the other plain veggies you won't be dissapointed. also: the carrots and beets are over seasoned with sugar and vinegrette which foils the whole the point of getting healthy veggie IMO.



sham / December 17, 2013 at 01:20 pm
user-pic
yes. you gotta choose carefully.

so far, of the main items I have tried:
chicken breast stuffed with spinach - really good!
mushroom pie - slimey. ew
crepe pie - kinda good but a little too creamy, so - ew
chicken gumbo soup - no flavour

side-dishes
latkes - good
broccoli/chopped tomato/sliced apple - normal
beets - warning: super super tangy and sweet
tabouleh - tasteless but filling

The best / April 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm
user-pic
I just finished an amazing lunch from Helena's and came online to see if they have a website (so I can order before I go there) and found these comments. Gasp! I cannot believe that people have had bad experiences here. I think it is the best place in the grange and best fast lunch place in the area and I have tried a lot of the hot dishes. There is always a huge lineup and the owners are so kind and genuine. I actually have had the cabbage rolls a few times and they had meat and rice.

Add a Comment

Search

Find a restaurant

Or use the options below to assist you in locating a restaurant in Toronto.

Search Results

Please select criteria from the dropdown menus above to start your search.

Reviews

Recent Reviews

Refine the list using the categories below:


Loading...
Other Cities: Montreal