Thursday, 13 April 2017

Koreatown. Little Korea. Bloor Street West. Toronto

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Koreatown Toronto is one of the ethnic enclaves of multicultural Canada. In Toronto, Canada's largest city and financial centre, there's Little Portugal, Little Italy, Chinatown, etc all colourful, all with their own character and unique charm. They are all worth a visit when you are in Toronto.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

You will not see any grand buildings or particular architectural landmarks in downtown Toronto's Koreatown. It's main draws are authentic Korean style food, grocers and personal services like barber shops. That's all, more or less.

To me, Koreatown's charm lies in staying true to its roots. Its authenticity. It's never made up or dressed up for tourists.

University-of-Toronto

Koreatown has its roots in the Korean students and their families who came to nearby University of Toronto to study theology in the 1960s.

They settled in nearby Bloor Street West which is just north of College Street where much of the sprawling U of T is located. This area was the South American enclave in the 1960s.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Koreatown stretches 6 blocks east to west, bounded by Grace Street in the west and Bathurst Street in the east. Put another way, it's roughly between Bathurst and Christie subway stations.

Trinity-St.-Paul-United-Church

Churches are the largest buildings in Koreatown. Along Bloor Street West, there is the Trinity St. Paul's United Church.

Bloor-Street-United-Church

Further east, there is also Bloor Street United Church.

Honest-Ed's

If there was ever a landmark in Koreatown, it would be the huge Honest Ed's bargain store. But, sadly Honest Ed's pulled down it's shutters for the last time on the New Year's Eve of 2016. In it's place will be a mega condo development - it's the fate of many older neighbourhoods in Toronto as the city copes with a rapidly growing population.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Let's take a walk along Bloor Street West where Koreatown is all about. Though there are still many Korean businesses here, most Koreans have moved to the car-dependent suburbs (such as around Finch-Yonge junction in North York) and fewer live here in Koreatown now.


Still, if you are exploring Toronto on foot and want a taste of authentic Korean food, the most accessible place is downtown Toronto's Koreatown.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Korean food fads like bingsu and fried chicken are not as big here as they are in Singapore and Malaysia.

Most Korean eateries here remain small mom and pop or ajumma (auntie) operations, hence it's homely charm to me. 

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

They are typically humbly furbished but are clean and comfortable enough. Ajumma helms the kitchen and the front end is usually run by just one young staff, at most two doing the order taking, serving, clearing, cleaning and money collection. But, most are very quick and efficient, yet polite and obliging. A few are simply amazing - the energy and enthusiasm of the young Korean staff (often ajumma's son or daughter).

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Most of the Korean eateries here ofter a whole range of traditional Korean comfort food from soups/ stews to sizzling hot plates and BBQ dishes.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

The humble gamjatang or pork bone soup is big here, maybe because a hot spicy meaty soup does wonders on the all too frequent double digit sub-zero days in Toronto. The savoury-spicy soup and spine bones cures hungry stomachs during Toronto's biting cold winters and is the perfect antidote for hangovers too, I am told.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Big too is soon dubo or soft tofu in savoury-spicy-sweet soup. It has the same curative benefits as gamjatang but minus the meat and fats 😂 


These are the Korean eateries that I have tried in Koreatown so far. I enjoyed every eatery that I have tried here so far.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Seoul Restaurant (621 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Yummy Korean Restaurant (620 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Sunrise House (661 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

The Owl (Boo Ung Ee) 700 Bloor St. West 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Mom's Korean Food (612 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Little Piggy's (469 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Little-Korea-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Paldogangsan (694 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Little-Korea-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Kimchi House (586 Bloor St. West) 👈 click

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Buk Chang Dong (691 Bloor St. West) 👈 click



Korean Village Restaurant (628 Bloor St. West) which I have not tried yet.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There is a shop serving freshly made hodo kwaja or Korean walnut cake at 656 Bloor St. West. Looks like a nice snack but I have not tried it yet as I am always too full when I passed by the little shop 😂

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

You can watch them make hodo kwaja through the shop window.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There is a Korean supermarket from the P.A.T. chain at 675 Bloor St. West. At P.A.T. we can get many kinds of Korean fresh and pickled vegetables, Korean cuts of meat like spine bones for gamjatang, and spices for kimchi and cooking. P.A.T. also has a large selection of Korean instant noodles 👈

Kevin's-Taiyaki

When at P.A.T. remember to get a freshly made fish-shape waffle from Kevin's Taiyaki stand. These crispy eggy fish-shape waffles are filled with paste made with green beans, red beans, black beans, or custard. They are very generous with the paste which has just the right texture and sweetness i.e. not overly sweet. They cost CDN2 each and worth every cent 😄

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

While Koreatown has many Korean shops, the business mix reflects the diversity of Canada. The Korean eateries and services are punctuated here and there by hipster cafes, Japanese, Thai, Chinese eateries etc.

There is a Jerk King outlet (522 Bloor St. W) which is popular for their Jamaican dishes like spicy jerk chicken.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There's Eva's Original at 454 Bloor St. West.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

We can see staff hand make chimneys, a traditional Hungarian pastry eaten with ice cream.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There's a Burger's Priest outlet at 406 Bloor St. West. 

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Burger's Priest is a Canadian homegrown brand of premium burgers using only fresh ground beef. It's Toronto's answer to NYC's Shake Shack 👈

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There're Greek, Japanese and even Australian (Cobs Bread) comfortably side by side.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There's a taste of spicy Bangkok too at Thai Basil.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Kinka Izakaya is a great place for Japanese small plates 👈 Their Koreatown outlet is at 559 Bloor St. West.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

By The Way, a popular cafe serving Middle Eastern cuisine with Mediterranean influences (400 Bloor St. West).

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

The White Brick Kitchen a mac & cheese, burger and fried chicken joint. Their famous fried chicken attracts a queue even on a rainy Sunday morning (641 Bloor St. West).

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Rancho Relaxo take out shop features vegan and gluten free tacos and burritos (633 Bloor St. West).


Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

The popular Green Beanery Cafe is a coffee roaster, equipment shop and cafe all rolled into one. It's outlet at 565 Bloor St. West is also known as The Vault as it used to be a bank and customers can book the old vault for events.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Boil Bar is a Louisiana-style boiled seafood shop (442 Bloor St. West). The seafood, crabs, prawns, mussels, etc are boiled together and served with sauces and hot spices. The pot of seafood is dumped in a messy heap on the table and eaten with hands. The messiness is a big part of the fun 😄

Poop-Cafe-Koreatown-Toronto

There is a Poop Cafe at 706 Bloor St. West.

Don't worry. Their signature dish is bingsu 😂

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Besides restaurants, Koreatown is a good place for book worms and souvenir hunters as there are a few book stores and knick knack shops here.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Gig@bites internet cafe where gamers meet and slug it out on high power machines. Koreatown used to have a vibrant internet cafe strip but now only a odd one or two shops are left.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

Alternative Arts (491 Bloor St. West) have a good stock of eye catching posters.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

This uniquely Canadian poster caught my attention 😄

Kops-Records-Koreatown-Little-Korea-Bloor-Street-West-TorontoKoreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

There are even a few vinyl record stores along Bloor St. West where one can get original vintage records.

Koreatown-Bloor-Street-West-Toronto

👉 Locals come to Toronto's Koreatown for good food at reasonable prices. There are plenty of choices here and not just Korean. I like it here as it is a good place for me to try out and learn about Korean comfort dishes.

Come. There's a lot more than what I am sharing here.

Date: 12 Apr 2017

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I firmly believe that taste is subjective and so, warmly welcome differing viewpoints :-D But, I disapprove negative comments that are anonymous or hide behind fake identities. I feel that that is unethical in the same way as speaking ill of others behind their backs. I look forward to all your comments :-D Thank you. (Date: 18 Dec 2015)

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