In a city as diverse as Toronto, locals and visitors are fortunate enough to explore many cultures at the same time. Korean culture is gaining pace here, from Korean shops and restaurants to entertainment culture including Korean pop music and karaoke, there’s plenty of Korean-inspired fun to be had. Toronto has two distinct Koreatowns, one along Bloor Street, from Christie to Bathurst, and another up at Finch and Yonge. Looking for a taste of Korean culture in Toronto? Here is our guide
The Asian-style bakeries in Toronto are usually Hong-Kong style, it’s harder to come by Korean bakeries, so it’s definitely worth trying Hodo Kwaja. Their specialty item is the walnut cake, referred to as hodukwaja in Korean. This sweet yet savory cake has a long history in Korean culture and originated in Cheonan. There are many varieties available, but make sure to try the red bean walnut cakes, which is how walnut cakes are traditionally prepared. Korean walnut cakes are baked in a cute bite-size shape of a walnut, and upon biting into it, you’ll find a soft sweet red bean paste with pieces of walnut.
Hodo Kwaja, 656 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 538 1208
Among Korean noodle dishes, naengmyun is one of the most popular. It is a cold noodle dish and contains glass noodles, pear slices, boiled egg, and strips of pickled radish in beef broth. This is a long-cherished dish in Korea and has existed for centuries. Cho Sun Ok is well-known for their cold noodle dishes, and while it’s a bit of a trek, it’s totally worth the trip to Markham. Try the Mool Naengmyun with arrowroot noodles and homemade red pepper sauce.
Cho Sun Ok, 7353 Yonge St, Markham, ON, Canada, +1 905 707 8426
Buk Chang Dong, located in downtown Koreatown near Christie, is well known for its soon dubu (soft tofu). Serving up Korean-style hotpot dishes, Buk Chang Dong incorporates tofu as the main ingredient. Often, soon dubu is a spicy dish prepared in a hotpot with soup, veggies, and an egg, and there are variations such as Kimchi soon tofu and dumpling soon tofu. Most of these hotpot dishes come with specially prepared multigrain Korean rice called japgokbap, which is purple in color. The rice comes in a hot stone bowl, which lightly bakes the rice until it becomes slightly crispy.
Buk Chang Dong, 691 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 537 0972
After filling up on authentic Korean food, the best thing to do afterwards is to go for karaoke. In Koreatown, it’s guaranteed you’ll find a karaoke room nearby. The culture of norebang (song room in Korean) is a favorite pastime after a night of libations. Enjoying a great night out with friends and going to a karaoke room is the perfect Korean way to finish a night out.