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Restaurants

Song Cook's

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on October 19, 2012 / review policy

Song CooksSong Cook's is an amazing, authentic Korean restaurant that is virtually hidden at the back of a strip mall off Steeles Avenue near Yonge Street.

The restaurant is separated into two sections. One side features regular chairs and tables but the other side of the restaurant has heated floors where one dines how Koreans traditinally dine - by sitting on mats on the floor.

Song CooksLike all Korean restaurants, service here starts with some complimentary kimchi. Song Cook's kimchi is definitely different - instead of bite sized pieces of cabbage, entire heads of cabbage are plated along with pickled radish. It is also very tangy. We could tell it had been pickled well. Scissors are provided to allow us to cut them into smaller pieces

Song CooksOn to the orders. First up was the ChamPong, a spicy seafood soup noodle ($9). ChamPong and the JaJangMyun also come in a combo-deal: half portions of each dish but $8 for both. I usually get this deal when I'm here for a quick lunch or even a small dinner. The ChamPong has a deliciously spicy broth and the noodles are chewy and cooked perfectly.

Song CooksJaJangMyun noodles with veggie, beef and black bean sauce. Again, the noodles are cooked perfectly. The sauce is quite thick but very flavourful as well.

Song CooksRice with Barley ($3.50). A majority of their dishes do not come with rice, so we ordered a heaping bowl of rice with barley on the side. This rice is their "healthy" alternative to rice.

Song CooksAl Bap ($8) - vegetables, tobiko with rice in a hot stone bowl. Al Bap includes vegetables such as cucumbers, crab meat, kimchi, pickled radish and tobiko (fish roe). In concept, it is very similar to Bibimbap but tastes much lighter and less filling as it has no meat in it.

Song CooksSeafood Tofu Stew. What good is a Korean restaurant visit without tofu stew? Best in the depths of winter when all you want is to fill your belly with hot soups and stews in an attempt to stay warm. This stew hit us with a double whammy of chili heat (don't worry its bark is worse than its bite!) and steamy broth.

Song CooksPork Belly ($8) - absolutely delicious fatty-ness. The pork belly is served with sesame oil sauce and ssamjang (soybean paste) to dip into. These thick strips of pork belly are also available in a table-top grilling option, where you can grill these delicious pieces of meat yourself. A word of caution: this option is double the price! ($15).

Song CooksJim Kalbi ($12) - Korean kalbi is one of the best out there - the sauce used to marinate the short ribs is amazing. In this case, the ribs are very good and the aforementioned scissors come in handy so we can cut them into smaller pieces

Song CooksGrilled Mackerel ($7 for 2 pieces, $4 for 1). The mackerel tastes fresh and is grilled just right so that it doesn't have an overly fishy taste. It's beautifully flaky and I could easily have eaten one on my own.

Song CooksThe Steamed Ribs marinated in special sauce is incredibly tender and flavourful and the sauce is savoury AND sweet. They steam it long enough so that the meat just falls off the bones with little to no effort. It simply melts in your mouth. If you go to Song Cook's you MUST get this. This is the small size ($12) but there is also a larger one for $24 and it is worth every. Single. Penny.

Songs Cooks TorontoThe final bill? $87 (not including tips)

Song CooksSong CooksSongs Cooks TorontoWriting by Christina Li.

Discussion

20 Comments

itchyone / November 16, 2011 at 04:29 pm
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The new kid on the block .... that doesn't disappoint. Don't expect the best BBQ here .. but look to have more home style food, but in a very clean, great serviced restaurant. You can choose to sit at tables, or wait to sit on the heated floors (as its done in Korea). Personally I love their Jjajangmyun & Jjampong combo !!!! But whats also great about this place thats different than other restaurants is that they serve smaller portions of regular dishes. So instead of spending $20 on a meat dish, you can spend $8-10, and get a few to share with friends. Another fav!
Brandon / October 19, 2012 at 12:29 pm
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Haven't been to this place, but Sunrise House is my personal favorite. Nothing else has come close in my opinion.
Ken / October 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm
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Thanks Christina, great showcase of a wide variety of food. Nice in highlighting the pricing gotchas, for those that are a bit value-conscious. Great photos!
will / October 19, 2012 at 01:12 pm
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This place is awesome. Usually the Cham-pong, and Ja-Jang-Myun, aren't served at the same place that you can get pork bone soup and silken tofu stew (because they're different styles of Korean cuisine), so getting them all in the same place is a definite plus.
BH / October 19, 2012 at 02:05 pm
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Since most Korean restaurants in the GTA serve similar dishes (soups, bibimpap and BBQ come to mind) that don't represent everything you can get in Korea, for me the true measure of whether its worthwhile is the quality and selection of banchan (side dishes). I've found the mains at many places to be interchangeable.

I have yet to visit a GTA restaurant that had anything like what's available in Korea. Now, I wouldn't expect the same level of selection or freshness, but when you get the same 4 or 5 sides (kimchi, pickled radish, spicy cucumber, bean sprouts etc.) it's really disappointing.

Unfortunately this place appears to be the same as the rest in that regard unless I missed something in the article (which did give a good overview of the place). Too bad--I'll have to keep searching. I'm not expecting a traditional royal feast, just a proper han-jang shik place. Does it exist? Anyone?
slew replying to a comment from BH / October 19, 2012 at 02:38 pm
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song cooks food is much better than the standard Korea town restaurants. their black bean noodles are the best in the city! also try makkal chon which I think is the best Korean I've had in Toronto. its in Scarborough
Marco / October 19, 2012 at 03:12 pm
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Well reviewed Christina! Looking forward to your future work ;)
Brandon replying to a comment from BH / October 19, 2012 at 04:43 pm
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BH, try Sunrise. You typically get 6 dishes (*unlimited). Kimchi, potatoes, seaweed, bean sprouts, jap chae, and sometimes even tofu.
BH / October 19, 2012 at 08:02 pm
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Thanks for the recommendations, slew and Brandon. Haven't been to any Korean restos in Scarborough so that good to know. I believe I went to Sunrise a few years ago and found it decent if unspectacular but I might give it a second chance.

But I still miss having 10+ fresh side dishes at a good Korean dinner--it means I'm guaranteed to love a couple and like a few more. Glad I can still find dong-dong-ju but Toronto prices kill the fun.
steve / October 20, 2012 at 03:57 am
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i was living in oakland, ca 2 years ago. i went to this place that served 21 side dishes (apparently a bay area high) - BH i totally understand the allure of variation and creativity in the banchan.

my one reccomendation - seor ak san on spadina (at cecil, downstairs, orange sign). they have really consistent, ultra fresh mains. and the side dishes tend to be crisper, more homemade, and often include pieces of korean pancake, among the regular "pickled root vegetables" and great bean sprouts.

good luck!
BH / October 21, 2012 at 02:53 pm
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Wow--21 sides dishes, but I would almost expect that in California. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check out seoraksan as I've never been.
krn guy / December 4, 2012 at 08:40 pm
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eh been there twice was thoroughly disappointed. Over priced/ mediocre food. Check out Kongbul next block half way to bathurst/steeles if you want interesting variety with reasonable price.
parkis555 / December 20, 2012 at 03:42 pm
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I found the food decent, but I was disappointed to find out they charged extra for rice.
Steve Lee / June 22, 2013 at 09:54 pm
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Very disappointed. The kimchi was old and sour (probably better suited for kimchi stew, instead of as a side dish), a lot of msg and the food simply doesn't compare to many other better options in the city. Have had better in cities like Ottawa or Montreal where there are much less choices in Korean restaurants but they pay more attention to preparing tasty food. You want a test, ask any native Korean what they think of SongCooks, it just doesn't measure up. Too bad as I had high hopes based on the reviews..
Steve / October 23, 2013 at 10:19 am
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I can't believe this place is rated #1. Every dish was a disappointment. And, my car still stinks from the doggy bag a month leftover.
Steve / October 29, 2013 at 01:33 am
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Ill say again I cant get the smell of their food out of my car.
hmm / January 21, 2014 at 08:24 pm
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I am korean,
this taste so bad, i never go there.
it's not authentic,
tasteless food
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