Traditional Korean Restaurant (Wonjo)
Traditional Korean Restaurant (aka Wonjo), is a gem in the midst of a multitude of self-proclaimed best Pork Bone Soups, Bibimbops and Soon Tofu restaurants in North York. Though the name may not be unique, who needs to be when you are serving
5-alarm spicy soul-warming traditional Korean food?
This modest restaurant is the epitome of hole-in-the-wall. It was difficult to find, as we passed by a couple times before realizing it was nestled in a small plaza flanked on each side by a pediatrician and a Chinese herbal store.
Stepping into Traditional Korean Restaurant felt like visiting a family home, with baby photos adorning the walls and '90s pop songs on the stereo. The Wednesday evening crowd was made up of tables of young friends and older men, all Korean-speaking, of course.
Despite there being only one waitress, service was attentive and courteous. The homemade banchans (side dishes) arrived quickly and were delicious. We immediately inhaled all the kimchi, sweet dried soybeans (our favourite), cucumbers, spicy pickles, pickled radishes and bean sprouts.
Wonjo serves different versions of soon tofu (raw bean curd stew) ($7.08), beef, pork, kimchi, seafood, oyster and for those not into spice, mildly spicy stew. All come with purple rice cooked in a stone bowl. The oyster soon tofu came bubbling hot - always a good indicator of quality. The tofu was soft and silky, with a smooth taste. Caution to those adverse to spice - this is one of the hottest Korean stews I have ever tasted. I almost broke out in sweat, tears and swollen lips.
Next came the cuttlefish and noodles in hot sauce ($10.18) to share. The noodles came with a mix of tender cuttlefish, onions, herbs, green onions and sesame seeds. This dish again had a strong spicy kick, but with a sharp sweetness to it. The delicate, silky noodles made the dish oddly comforting... for people who can't live without hot peppers.
If you can't handle too much spice, other menu items that come mild include bibimbap (rice with sautĂŠed vegetable, meat and a fried egg) ($7.08), pork bone soup ($7.08), cold buckwheat noodles ($8.55), jajangmyun (noodles with black bean paste, meat and vegetables) ($5.30), and of course galbi and bulgolgi, both for a very reasonable price. For those who like to know what they're getting into, the menu has colourful photos and descriptions in English, Korean, and Chinese.
Come spring, Traditional Korean Restaurant serves their special Spring Bibimbap, which uses "spring" vegetables/wildflowers like fernbrakes and dandelions along with their regular vegetables ($10). From what I've heard, it's definitely worth a return to try out.
Hours: 11am - 11pm Mon to Sat
Photos by Michelle See.