A Day & Night Out In Toronto's Koreatown
Christie Pits Park
In an urban center like Toronto, parks are a must-have. Christie Pits Park boasts three baseball diamonds, picnic areas, an outdoor skating rink, soccer/football/rugby field, walking/biking accessible paths, a playground and splash pad for the young ones, and an indoor pool. The park itself is sloped on each of its four sides, giving it a distinct feel and amazing sledding routes during the winter. During the summer, it plays host to the Christie Pits Film Festival, which seeks to bring popular and critically-acclaimed cinema and Canadian-made film shorts to outdoor audiences. Other cultural events happen throughout the year as well, such as Ethiopian New Year in September.
Christie Pits Park, 750 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 392 1111
Hodo Kwaja, a Korean bakery specializing in inexpensive Korean confections, has been a unique spot in the city since it opened its doors in 1992. The walnut cake is not to be missed: a walnut shaped sweet with waffle-like consistency and traditional red bean paste filling (two other filling options are available as well). Customers can get up close and personal and watch as these sweets are made – the process unfolds right at the front of the store. There is also coffee and tea on tap, as well as other sweets to choose from, making Hodo Kwaja a delicious spot in Koreatown.
Hodo Kwaja, 656 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 538 1208
Just You – Sarah & Tom
Just You – Sarah & Tom, a toy, gift, and stationery shop needs to be seen to be believed. With K-Pop posters on one wall, Mario and Hello Kitty merchandise on another, and a healthy dose of Korean stationery sprinkled about for good measure, this store is ripe for exploring. Catering to students and families, the store is about eighty percent Japanese toys (including anime inspired plush toys, stickers, keychains, and pins) and twenty percent Korean stationary (including day planners, pens, and notebooks). To say that the staff is friendly is a severe understatement and disservice to the business – they truly care that you have an excellent shopping experience, which is a novelty in itself.
Just You – Sarah & Tom, 624 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada + 1 416 535 4619
P.A.T. Central Supermarket
Since opening in 1972 to bring specifically Korean and general Asian goods directly to the Korean-Canadian community, P.A.T Central Supermarket has been a mainstay of Koreatown. Eddy Lee, the current owner of this family-run market, is committed to providing Korean-Canadians with the food they love as well as encouraging new customers – who might be there looking to start their Korean food journey – to find recipes as well as all the ingredients they need to cook up their new favorite Korean dish. A great place if you already know what you are looking for, and a helpful destination if you are just testing the waters. Regardless, it’s a must-visit.
P.A.T. Central, 675 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 532 2961
PACHA Indigenous Art Collection
A Koreatown art gallery and shop, PACHA Indigenous Art Collection exhibits indigenous art produced throughout Canada, the US, and Central and South America. Owners Marcos and Pati have been selling and promoting indigenous art through trade shows across Canada for the last twenty-five years, but finally settled on this inspiring locale, giving the people of Koreatown and Toronto the opportunity to scope some truly talented artisans. Boasting handcrafted items such as masks, blankets, coats, jewelry, drums, guitars, and scarves, as well as shoes and water bottles, this is the perfect spot to acquaint oneself with indigenous art.
PACHA Arts, 614 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 525 7731
Gus the Other Barber
Gus – originally from Sparta, Greece – came to Toronto when he was just 18 and started cutting hair. Since Gus’s earliest days in the city in 1960, Gus the Other Barber has evolved into a Toronto institution. The shop itself is quite the place, steeped in history and local flavor: from all of that barber know-how to walls adorned with soccer memorabilia; old-school barber shop hot towel service; men and women’s haircuts; and photos of all the famous folk’s hair he has cut. Gus the Other Barber is the perfect place to get a sense of what the neighborhood used to be like, meet a colorful, passionate owner, and – of course – to get a haircut.
Gus the Other Barber, 596 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 534 9077
Snakes & Lattes
Board game cafés are regularly popping up across the city and for good reason: who doesn’t love a bit of healthy competition (or cooperation) over a game and a latte with friends? The board game café wasn’t yet a staple when Snakes & Lattes opened its Bloor Street doors in 2010; now in its fifth year, it was the first board game café in North America. Mixing classic family-style games such as ‘Monopoly’ with European designed powerhouses like ‘Settlers of Cataan,’ Snakes & Lattes brims with games from all over the world. Come to the front desk, wait to be seated with your party, pick out a game, and begin to play. If you have questions, the knowledgeable staff is available to assist you, so trying new games is encouraged. With a minimal $5 cover charge, patrons are encouraged to play as many games as they like. The full menu includes sandwiches, salads, desserts, and appetizers as well as drip coffee, espresso, and tea; gamers are set to be sated while they enjoy their gaming experience.
Snakes & Lattes, 600 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 647 342 9229
Karaoke in Koreatown is something of a must; if you find yourself in the mood for some tunes, head to BMB Karaoke. If you prefer to confine your public displays of singing to your friend circle, you’re in luck: BMB Karaoke has thirteen rooms, thousands of songs to choose from, and a downstairs bar. While karaoke is a great any-time activity, we highly recommend the Monday–Wednesday Happy Hour specials, which make BMB a go-to for karaoke lovers citywide.
BMB Karaoke, 593 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 533 8786
It is true that Honest Ed’s will be closing at the end of 2016; however, Honest Ed’s remains a landmark in Toronto if there ever was one. Named after impresario Ed Mirvish, Honest Ed’s was originally built in 1948 to assist newcomers to Toronto with deals on clothes, fabric, toys, appliances, tools, toiletries, and food. It is a testament to that idea, of helping people new to the area as well as people who love a great bargain, that Honest Ed’s has been able to operate as long as it has. In addition to savvy deals spanning four floors, customers will also find signs and posters from plays put on by Ed Mirvish’s many theaters (both in Toronto and in London, England). This is the place to go for a bit of nostalgia and something uniquely Torontonian, and therefore it’s a great bookend to Koreatown.
Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, Canada +1 416 537 2311