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Restaurants

HoSu Bistro: Broaden Your Palate

Posted by Debbie Ohi / Reviewed on August 1, 2007 / review policy

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I admit that sometimes I order menu dishes just because I find the names intriguing. "Chicken Bibim Bop" sounds more like a (possibly painful) dance move to me, but it's actually a traditional Korean dish: assorted veggies & chicken with an egg on a bed of rice, served in a stone bowl.

I've eaten at both the downtown (254 Queen St. W.) and North York (2352 Yonge St.) HoSu locations many times. Up to now, I've usually gone for the sushi or the chirashi don ($9.95):

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Owner Susan Kim says that many first-time visitors tend to gravitate toward the Japanese options, especially sushi and bento box combos. She says that on repeat visits, people often start getting more adventurous. HoSu's Korean specialty, kam pong gi ($7.95 small, $12.95 large), is now a favourite among customers.

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Wanting to be more adventurous, I ask Susan for ideas. She suggests the galbi appetizer: pieces of marinated short beef ribs ($4.95) and the spicy chicken soup ($8.95). Like her staff, Susan is friendly and welcoming, eager to introduce different types of Asian cuisine to those yearning to broaden their palates.

All serving staff at HoSu are fluent in English. Susan makes this a requirement so if customers have any questions about the menu, they can get explanations. Many people find ethnic restaurants intimidating; one of Susan's goals is to make HoSu a place where diners feel comfortable trying new dishes. "When we first opened, very few people knew what kimchi was," she says. "Now people request it specifically."

My galbi appetizer is tender and delicious, and the chicken soup is unlike any other I've had before. The spicy broth with chicken, egg and long green onions is hot and filling: Korean comfort food. You don't even have to leave your own home to sample HoSu's extensive menu since they offer take-out and delivery services (check out their menus on their Web site). When I ordered the chicken soup for delivery, it came in a sturdy plastic bowl:

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Yum. This would also be a great choice for anyone feeling a bit under the weather; I'll have to remember this next time I'm sick at home. Hm...or even if I'm not.

Now my eye strays to other unfamiliar dishes on the menu and find they don't sound quite as intimidating. Hwae dop bop? I'll have that next time, or perhaps galbi jim. Not exactly sure what they are, but I can't wait to find out.

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Pictured above: 2352 Yonge St. location (Yonge & Eglinton), 416-322-6860. Address at the top of this listing refers to the Queen St. location.

Hours: Mon-Sat 11:30am-11pm, Sun 11:30am-10pm

Discussion

17 Comments

MizzMonsta / August 2, 2007 at 03:25 pm
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I'm a huge fan of HoSu! The portions are generous and they have excellent selections, especially if you are craving sashimi AND sushi AND tempura AND teriyaki...

Don't get put off my the crowded tables at the Queen & John location. The food and service more than makes up for it :-)
Alex G / August 8, 2007 at 10:13 am
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I used to go to Queen location for a weekly sushi fix for nearly 4 years, but recently sushi has become really bad. The sea weed is very dry and rice has no taste what so ever.

I'm not a sushi snob by any mean, but I would describe my last 4 visits as very mediocre. I stopped going.
bitterlullaby / January 11, 2008 at 12:05 am
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Ach! I had written a whole long comment on this place and all of it got deleted. Here we go again!

This place is quite nice I must say. Though I am not a fan of the food the service is very organized and quick. Meals were made so fast. Tea only for a dollar with refills for the table? The menu's had photos included of what the meal looked like. Upon leaving the place, ever employee who passed you said a thank you and a goodbye. Now that is sweet isn't it? :) Though I did not enjoy the food, just not a fan, my friends did and you recieved a great big tray with the nice, low price. :) There were also some cute little rooms to eat in as well with curtains, I thought that was pretty great.
jennifer / November 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm
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i went last night and the sahimi was completely inedible. The white tune was SOFT and wet and so salty that i think it may have been stored in a bucket of salt water OR it had gone bad and the cook tried to cover the smell with salt water ...i dont know, but i actually spit it out into my napkin .

the chicken for the chicken teriyaki had been cooked on a baking tray with a number of other plain chicken breasts and had been left to sit out, only later to be re-heated and drenched with teriyaki sauce from the bottle- not allowing the chick to absorb any of those deliciously MSGed flavours.
The tempura batter hadn't been mixed properly and when i bit into my broccoli tempura the stem was surrounded by uncooked clumps of flour.

the sushi was made so far in advance that the centre of avacodo, fake crab and cucumber was a flavourless and indistinguishable mush in my mouth.

the brown rice was cooked well and the service was good and the tea was hot and fresh and refilled often. But I will never go back to HoSu
Anna / December 19, 2008 at 12:39 pm
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My boyfriend brought me here as my first Toronto sushi experience and it was SUCH a bust! We ordered a veggie bento box that came with stale rolls and pre-made veggie tempura. When I asked the waitress if the tempura was fresh or if it was made earlier in the day she hesitantly told me that it was not fresh. As we walked out I could see a mountain of tempura laying on the counter waiting to be served. This place was disgusting!!!
Jim / February 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm
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I don't know about the Yonge location, but the Queen & John location gave me the worst case of food poisoning i've ever had in my entire life.

4 days later and i'm still suffering with butt pee :( That's nothing compared to the 2-3 days of agonizing abdominal pain I had before, and the night I felt a fever coming on.

I've since looked this location up on the City of Toronto health inspection site, and i was not surprised by the results. They are constantly flagged for hygiene problems. It seems they only clean up their act when they know the inspectors are coming back for a second round of inspections. But don't take my word for it, look for yourself;

http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?userRequest=view_history&;ESTABLISHMENT_ID=9029656

This place should be closed down.

The food wasn't even that good.

Martha / November 18, 2009 at 10:58 am
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I love hosu, my friend and I order it all the time. We LOVE the Kam Pong Gi, it's like food-crack. I get the Dolsot Chicken Bibim Bop which gets better everytime I eat it. The Galbi appetizer is to die for! Tempura is a staple for my friend, although my palate has evolved from there. I haven't tried the soup yet but it looks like I will the next time. Good times.
b / January 12, 2010 at 12:35 pm
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It makes me sad to say I used to go here a lot. My reason it was fast food, it took less than 5 minutes for my order. As you know this means that all the food is cook beforehand and they just package it and give it to you. It is one of those mediocre Korean places that people go to because of location and price. Actually the food is pretty bad when you venture into sushi here.

Honestly go somewhere else.

Katie / February 20, 2011 at 08:33 pm
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This place had another disgusting Dine Safe closure recently ... "Operator fail to prevent an insect infestation," "Operator fail to provide adequate pest control."

http://app.toronto.ca/food2/DineSafeMain?userRequest=view_history&;ESTABLISHMENT_ID=10363085
jae / March 22, 2011 at 01:41 pm
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I've enjoyed Hosu lots but recently a friend of mine and I both got sick in the afternoon after eating there. :(
Emily / March 30, 2011 at 11:03 am
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I used to get takeout here every now and then since it was just around the corner from work and the prices were reasonable. Sometimes all you're looking for is a quick, cheap meal... However, I stopped going altogether when I found a live cockroach in my bulgogi lunch special. After eating about one third of it, I saw it crawling out of the glass noodles.

I guess you get what you pay for, but, upon further investigation and a call to the health inspector's office, it seems like they've had problems with roach infestations in the past. I also came across this facebook group -- "BOYCOTTING HOSU BISTRO 254 QUEEN ST.": http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8595032513
Cathy SMith / April 15, 2011 at 05:20 pm
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For years, Ho Su was a weekly staple for me. I worked in the area and could eat there once a week. Then one day, just after finishing my meal, a cockroach crawled up on the table and lingered there.
Needless to say, sadly, I will not be dining at Ho Su again!
Jenna / August 24, 2011 at 01:44 pm
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The Yonge location is fine. The only time I ordered from the Queen location could have been my last time eating sushi. I can not even tell you how turned off of tempura I was for the next couple of months.
Norman / September 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm
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The food was okay at the Yonge and Eglinton location but the woman at the front (not sure if she's the owner) who is always dressed in black is so miserable that she makes you never want to come back..even is your food experience is ok.
Ham Solo / November 4, 2011 at 08:32 pm
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I've been going to HoSu for a few years now and never thought it was bad. But after reading the reviews of a few people here about the cockroaches (queen and john location) I kinda felt weird going for lunch there today.

Problem is... guess what I saw hanging out on the wall by the front door. Yep. A 'roach.

Now I'm unsure whether or not I'll go back. The food there isn't so awesome that I have to go there. There are other options which don't include roaches.
sushigal / February 6, 2012 at 07:10 pm
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I'm sitting at HoSu right now...just finished dinner. The rice in the sushi was undercooked, the tempura was old and there was too much vinegar in the seaweed salad. The worst sushi I've ever had in Toronto and I'm not even a sushi snob. I feel really bloated right now and I have a feeling its not going to end well. Its not super cheap either.
John / April 11, 2012 at 01:46 pm
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5 years ago, my fianceé and I had our first date here. Now, our only regret is being locked into having terrible sushi and sub-par korean whenever we're feeling nostalgic.

The only saving grace is that they offer brown rice as a substitute if you're trying to cut back on your carb intake.

Terrible. 2 stars.

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