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Best of Toronto

The Best Korean Restaurants in Toronto

Posted by Liora Ipsum / October 24, 2014

Korean TorontoThe best Korean restaurants in Toronto are a varied bunch, specializing in everything from stone pot soups and rice bowls to tabletop BBQ and crispy fried bar snacks. That diversity applies equally to geography within the GTA, with establishments spread out from K-Town to Thornhill, Scarborough and beyond.

Here are the best Korean restaurants in Toronto.

See also
The best Korean BBQ in Toronto
The best bibimbap in Toronto
The best late night Korean restaurants in Toronto
The best Korean and Japanese fried chicken in Toronto

Song Cooks

Song Cooks

Tucked into the back of a Steeles Ave. strip mall, this massive Korean restaurant is truly a hidden gem. The menu covers an array of soups, rice, noodle dishes and mains, but if you're dining in a small party, opt for a set menu (starting at $35 for two) to sample a variety of dishes like kalbi, rice and doenjang chigae (fermented soybean stew). More »

MakkalChon

MakkalChon

This compact spot on Lawrence East in Scarborough has earned a solid reputation for bowls of pork bone soup and lettuce wrap sets - not to mention they're generous with the banchan. Seating is limited, and guests here are encouraged to linger, which can ultimately lead to long lines to get in. More »

Cho Sun Ok

Cho Sun Ok

This eatery on Yonge St. in Markham is so popular that line-ups are to be expected in peak hours. The menu features a concise line-up of 35 dishes, but the selection is solid and varied. The thing to get here is the Chik Mul Naeng Myeon ($9), a cold soup with crunchy arrowroot noodles and crisp vegetables - getting kalbi or dumplings on the side is advised too. More »

Tofu Village

Tofu Village

Attentive and efficient service at this K-Town restaurant makes a positive first impression, but it's the piping hot soon tofu soups ($7) served with stone pots of purple rice that have locals and destination diners coming back again and again. The requisite complimentary banchan are varied and interesting. More »

Buk Chang Dong Soon ToFu

Buk Chang Dong Soon ToFu

North York and Korea Town locations are solid options for deep bowls of silky tofu soup ($7.08) loaded with kimchi and meat, seafoods, or dumplings. The bibimbap is popular too, served in a sizzling stone pot that crisps up the bottom layer of rice, and beautifully presented with a vibrant array of toppings. More »

OddSeoul

OddSeoul

The Ossington snack bar isn't your average Korean joint; the menu is a mash-up of American streets foods and traditional Korean comfort foods. Staples on the fun, cocktail-friendly menu include crispy, chili-glazed chicken wings, kimchi rice, bulgogi cheesesteaks and curry-covered squash poutine. More »

Korean Village Restaurant

Korean Village Restaurant

Service here can be hit or miss, but the specialties from the kitchen like the kimchi pancakes and grilled short ribs are extremely worthwhile. Also among my faves are the pork belly ($19) and kalbi ($25) for DIY grilling at the table, served with a customary spread of banchan, condiments and lettuce cups. More »

Kimchi Korea House

Kimchi Korea House

This Korean dining room on Dundas does brisk business from lunch until late night, attracting diners with daily drink specials and hearty bowls of spicy pork bone soup swimming with chunks of tender meat. Set lunch boxes starting at $9 are excellent value too. More »

Sunrise House

Sunrise House

Speedy service and a wallet-friendly menu are the hallmarks of this Korea Town bunsikjeom. Not one dish on the menu exceeds $10, and banchan are refilled per requests. Crowd favourites include the pancakes, dumplings and heat-packing soups. More »

Seor Ak San

Seor Ak San

This lower level Korean outfit in Chinatown is a favourite for ultra-satisfying dishes served at remarkably low prices. The huge, hearty bowl of pork bone soup ($8) is among the main attractions while other noteworthy dishes include sizzling platters of kalbi, stone pot bibimbap and chapchae noodles. More »

Sariwon

Sariwon

This grill house located on Yonge St. in Thornhill is the place to go for top-notch Korean BBQ. It's not AYCE, and it's certainly not cheap (and there's a two order minimum) but the banchan are plentiful, and the high-quality cuts of sirloin or beef ribs are worth the premium price tag. More »

Cho Won

Cho Won

Cozy into a private booth at this family restaurant in North York where both the service and food are on point. Specialties like spicy seafood hot pots ($15) and spicy Korean fried chicken ($13) earn consistently high praise. More »

Discussion

26 Comments

Mayor McCokehoover / October 24, 2014 at 04:03 pm
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Hurry up and comment, already! I'm anxious to know what Korean food lovers think of this list and/or what other places they can suggest. Looking forward to some tasty Korean this weekend (...and then turfing Doug Ford on Monday)!
Aman / October 24, 2014 at 04:05 pm
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Sunrise house - for the win!
No / October 24, 2014 at 04:16 pm
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Honestly this isn't a great list. For instance, Seor Ak San is horrible. Though it may be personal tastes, having grown up in Korea, I largely judge restaurants by the level of authenticity and that place was just gross. Everything was so blend or watered down. Same with Tofu Village and Korean Village Restaurant, both weren't very good. Maybe people who don't really know Korean food may like them, which is whatever, you do you, continue consuming Korean-"esque" food...
Alex / October 24, 2014 at 04:17 pm
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I asked a Korean guy which restaurant in Koreatown was best and he asked his friend who only spoke Korean who then pointed to "Lim Ga Ne". Been going there ever since, especially after those late nights when I want a hefty amount of food for practically nothing ($). I don't know if it's the best but who else is open til 4AM-ish.
RKim / October 24, 2014 at 04:26 pm
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Imonay at 665 Bloor west is great. Limited menu but food is delicious. Lady that runs it is super nice.
Cho Won on Drewry is great for the variety. Cho Sun Ok has great food but not a fan of the line up and noise. Buk Chang is the best place if you want tofu stew (soon dobu chigae). Sariwon has the best grill at the table bbq, but it is on the pricier side than some of the other Korean restaurants. We only go to Song Cooks if we want Korean Chinese noodle dishes like Jajang myun or Jampong. Not a fan of being charged for rice and barely any side dishes (ban chan). Korean Village was great 15-20 years ago, but we feel like it's gone down in quality over the years.
Brendan / October 24, 2014 at 04:39 pm
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(Korean Village Restaurant) - "Service can be hit or miss". No. Nope. No. I don't believe it. The service, especially when Jason is your table waiter, is exceptional.
Bay St. Guy replying to a comment from No / October 24, 2014 at 04:44 pm
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I've heard from others born and raised in Korea that Korean Village is one of their favourite places downtown so, surprise-surprise, things just might be a little bit subjective. You keep being the resident expert on Korean food though with your condescending tone.
Steve replying to a comment from Brendan / October 24, 2014 at 04:47 pm
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Jason is the best!
Vicki / October 24, 2014 at 04:47 pm
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Korean Village Restaurant has always had amazing service for me! I came in with a huge group of people, a little drunk after karaoke, and they seated us immediately and sent out free appetizers and then gave us free dessert at the end! Every time I go there, the service is unreal and the food is always delicious!
Mayor McCokehoover replying to a comment from No / October 24, 2014 at 04:55 pm
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Okay...then what places DO you like, Grumpypants McTutTut?
ed / October 24, 2014 at 05:17 pm
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So about Korean Village. It's likely one of the oldest, long standing korean restaurants in Toronto. They were doing Korean food when they were likely one of only a handful of Korean restaurants in Toronto. Let's see, I'm 36 and I can remember going here with my family when I was about 3. You don't survive this long if you don't know what you're doing.

I'm never sure if these lists are ranked in order but Song Cook (to me) just isn't that great. I find their food bland. But there's tons of people that love this joint.

Everyone has a fave restaurant somewhere and we're all entitled to our opinions. Personally, I LOVE Cho Won which happens to be last on the list. It's definitely not fancy but the food is damn tasty. Now, ask some old school Korean folks and they'll tell you it's not good.

Koreans and their food is somewhat analogous to Italians. A restaurant's food is never better than their mother's and everyone is a HUGE critic.

The only thing that makes me think there was some thought put into this list is that Ka-Chi isn't even mentioned. No one should ever go there for Korean food.

Now, one restaurant that isn't on this list that EVERYONE should go to is Myung Dong Kal-Guksu in Thornhill. No, I don't own it. It's just the most delicious noodle soup you will have in this city. Wait until you try their kimchi.





Firmy replying to a comment from Alex / October 24, 2014 at 06:33 pm
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Lim Ga Ne is consistent and delicious! Only discovered this place a few months ago, but have been there at least three times. Love the generous portions of bon chon and the large variety of tasty main dishes to share. Wifey is a sucker for spicy duk poh kee with jap chae - something they were more than happy to accommodate.

....surprised it isn't on this list....
Allan / October 24, 2014 at 07:45 pm
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The sight of another Korean old maid giving me bad service means NO THANKS
mark / October 24, 2014 at 08:41 pm
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Disappointed that Seoul house isn't on this list like it was the last time. They may have some of the pricier menu items, but the quality of their food matches the price in quality.
Cynthia / October 24, 2014 at 09:31 pm
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I'm surprised Oh Geul Boh Geul isn't here. I thought that place had delicious food. From fast service to the great quality food to the amazing variety of banchan. I really enjoyed this place and would recommend anyone to visit :)

Oh and they have pictures for every single menu item!! Such a bonus for those who aren't familiar with Korean cuisine just yet.
YEPI / October 24, 2014 at 10:05 pm
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He is the best!
loola.co.in
Thank you!
Mr Beck / October 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm
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If you're getting bad service at the Korean Village Restaurant you're certainly not being served by the owner or her son, Jason. Despite a bit of a language barrier on the part of the owner, she never fails to treat patrons with respect and a welcoming demeanor.

Jason has to be one of the best hosts/servers in the city. It's hard to walk in on a night when he's working and not feel like a V.I.P.
Paul / October 24, 2014 at 10:22 pm
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I love Arisu on Bloor
Grace / October 24, 2014 at 10:49 pm
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Hi! I'm a foodie and conveniently am Korean - perfect for this article! Sariwon is one of the best quality Korean bbq and it's more formal, refined dining. Piggy's and Sariwon fights for the top place for me, especially for bbq, though Piggy's is slightly more affordable from what I recall. Sariwon's grilled beef melts on your tongue and Piggy's banchans are to die for. I have tried a variety of menus at Piggy's and have yet to find something I didn't think was top notch. Charcoal & Salt(?) is also a fantastic Korean bbq more accessible by ttc. If you're looking for all you can eat bbq, Jangwon is the best. They give you soy bean soup for free and it pairs perfectly with pork belly bbq. Korea House in Korea town also serves excellent food and I enjoy going there for lunch. Royal Dumpling/Boonsik in Korea town serves excellent, clean Korean street food. My favourite there are soondae, mandoo (dumpling), tuna & mayo kimbab (sushi), with a side of odengtang (fish cake soup). Dufferin Seoul Garden is a bit out of the way, but they pride themselves in top quality food. Their beef sashimi and galbi are especially excellent. Let me know if you need any more suggestions or menu suggestions! Please excuse any typos or nonstandarized Korean romanizations. It was quite a challenge typing this on my phone lol
Korean girl / October 24, 2014 at 11:11 pm
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So I was "born and raised in Korea" and I am a typical spicy-korean food lover. I liked how I could adjust spiciness of soon tofu at Tofu village (5-star) and this place is by far the best soon tofu place Ive ever been in Toronto. I prefer this place over Bukkchangdong (3-star) because Tofu village has better side dishes (especially the marinated tofu) and tastes just right + very similar to what I used to have back in Korea. Also, their ddukboki is excellent - that is, if you love spicy food; this is not like any other sweet/too-cheesy ddukboki like other places make. It's simple and delicious.

Limgane (4-star) is a great restaurant although I do not eat their soondae hot pot (which they seem to be very proud of) because it did not smell good when I first tried it. Their meat smells unpleasant every time I enter the restaurant - but this is just me, none of my friends smell that. It could be something to do with how they make the soondae hot pot? But the soondae itself is okay. I recommend gamjatang, soybean (dwen-jang) chigae (Its so hard to spell all these names of Korean food in English) and cold noodle with kalbi combo.

The Limgane on Yonge and Finch (5-star) (the other one is on bloor/christie) makes BETTER dishes and most of their dishes are excellent except the soon tofu. Soon tofu was just too dull for me I did not like it at all. Do try, though, their Mandooguk, Gamjatang, Pork cutlet (this was HUGE), any BBQ and Sullung tang. These are absolutely great. Most of the dishes are ~$10.

Sunrise house (4-star) makes generally good Korean food so if you try anything you will probably like it. My friend who loves gamjatang had ordered this here and it was verrry cheap and the dish was HUGE. Another place that makes good gamjatang w/ decent amount of meat in it would be BibimQ on yonge and wellesley. The boodae-chigae at Sunrise house is very spicy so keep that in mind when ordering that. I had to ask for some hot water to mild it down.

I love pork cutlet so I am going to introduce this place: Royal-bunsik. They used to specialize in Mandoo (dumplings) but they became a general korean food restaurant, although they are bunsik place (meaning they specialize in ddukbokyi/kimbob etc.). This is located more near Bathurst and bloor but still in the Chirstie/bloor area where all these korean restaurants are located. Other than the Pork cutlet, their Kalgooksu is awesome. I loved it! its like pho but with thicker noodle and the soup is clearer. Its kind of like Udon.

Kimchi house is one of my favourite restaurants because they make good Bossam, Soybean chigae and Yukgaejang which are my favourite dishes. DO NOT order jaeyuk bokkum (spicy pork) there because they use samgyup sal (part of pork that contains LOTS of fat and very little meat; its like bacon) for jaeyuk bokkum which makes the dish very greasy and the portion was too small and too expensive. For jaeyuk bokkum, Varsity restaurant at (or around that area, just behind Robarts library, U of T) Huron and Spadina makes the BEST and most satisfying portion of the dish that I had this almost once a week when I was full-time student at uoft. I asked the Varsity owner lady what meat they used for Jaeyuk bokkum and she told me to use Moksal (pork neck? Lol) which is totally different from samgyupsal, Moksal contains more meat and less fat. Ever since, I always buy Moksal for jaeyukbokkum when I cook at home. Varsity also makes good korean food in general, and most dishes are delicious. You can also order the pork cutlet as your SIDE DISH if you pay $3 or so. Most people don't know about this! but ask! If you are having something like bibimbab (very vegetarian dish) and want some meat than the pork cutlet as a side will be a good add on for your meal. The man-owner, who is usually a cashier, tends to put way too much soy sauce so I always ask him not to put any for my dishes. I think it was beef teriyaki and bibimbob. Jaeyuk bokkum doesn't get any soy sauce on top so no need to worry! If you are concerned about salt intake, I suggest that you also ask him not to put any soy sauce for your meal.

Chosunok - I heard from so many of my Korean friends that they make awesome Korean food. I haven't tried them yet but I definitely recommend this restaurant.

Other places written up there - I am not quite familiar with those places. Please try my recommendations and I hope you like them.
Amy / October 25, 2014 at 12:01 am
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I think its a good starter list. I know nothing about Korean Food other than KimChi. This list gives some good options around the city of places to go. I LIKE!
BH / October 25, 2014 at 12:05 am
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A good Korean restaurant lives and dies on the quality of its banchan (side dishes) and I've yet to see a place in Toronto that matches a decent place in Korea. Its always the same combination of bean sprouts, odaeng, kimchi and perhaps a bit of radish or veggie pancake.

Someone out there needs to try to do it right and load up on the side dishes rather than focusing on the same soups, bibimpaps or kalbis.

We get Japanese sushi places of all levels of price and quality. Is a high class Korean joint too much to ask for?
owner / October 25, 2014 at 01:09 am
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Hi Everyone - first of all i'm always happy to see korean food making it into mainstream food criticism in Toronto. took a while there. I hope this leads to more realistic pricing of korean food. dishes are so underpriced at korean restaurants, it's incredibly hard as a restaurant owner.

Some of you have complained about BANCHAN quality and variety - well, that has to do with the pricing. normally banchan preparation takes a lot of time - each one has at least three of: paired, chopped, trimmed, boiled, squeezed, blanched, mixed, pickled, chopped again etc. etc. so all you get is the quick and basic stuff. If we actually started paying for banchan in the cost of the dish, i'm sure the dining experience would change.
oh no!! / October 25, 2014 at 01:52 am
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How could you miss Bibimq on Yonge Street just south of Gloucester? The best home made Korean food downtown.
KImchimonster / October 25, 2014 at 05:26 am
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Blog TO, this is a rather disappointing critique and ranking of Korean restaurants. Firstly the only restaurants here that should even be mentioned is Sariwon and Bukchangdong.
Song Gook is a nicely decorated restaurant. Too much MSG.
Don't be fooled by this ridiculous restaurant that actually charges you extra for their rice.
They try to make everything and make it look presentable detracting from their horrendously created Korean dishes.
Anyone who has anything positive to say about SongGook is ignorant of a Korean food or is not Korean.
Bukchangdong is only half decent in Ktown on Bloor St.
The owner simply went to Korea, learned the trade, came back and opened a restaurant when no one else had a soondooboo specialty resto.
Sariwon quality of meat is good for Korean bbq(btw Korean bbq Grill, the franchise by what I assume is owned by Chinese is not even Korean food but an insultingly cheap imitation)however, their service is bad.
OddSeoul obviously is just some trendy joint trying to appeal to people other than Koreans.
Again if you're a foodie who can't see beyond the pretty plates, presentation and interior you'll probably love places like this that has no depth or substance.

ChoWon was great a few years ago, but ever since new management took over quality is bad and service is bad.
The original owner clearly managed the place with excellence and sold it off to make profit.
Think of the buyers for a second, what do you expect from buyers who could not establish a good restaurant and create a viable business for themselves?
This restaurant should eventually go out of business or be taken over by new hopefuls who wish to try to turn a profit in the restaurant business.

ChoSunOk, first thing I noticed was that the table tops were covered by floor/bathroom type tiles.
Secondly, the server(s) when clearing tables were cleaning the plates at the table first before taking it to the back which I found was off putting to see before eating.
The way they handle food says everything about their quality.
Nothing special, and when asked what is good they simply reply everything is good. Again ignorant servers with a big hint of arrogance without any substance to show for in their food.



Drew / October 25, 2014 at 01:40 pm
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Taste of Korea at Dundas and Burnhamthorpe. Do it.

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