Little Korea at Kazan
New barbecue restaurant in town
THE ROOM AND detailing suggest that this is a place to be reckoned with. Decor aside, though, the flavours and assemblies offered here — good but certainly not great.
The restaurant is divided into two parts: teppanyaki and Korean barbecue. The more chic teppanyaki space is made up of iron plate cooking stations surrounded by seats. Here, the chef not only cooks and serves, but he also puts on a show with chopping, cropping, flipping, flopping, and even juggling ingredients and utensils.
The grey booths on the Korean barbecue side are padded and high backed and offer tryst-friendly privacy, each with a grill resembling an inverted hubcap embedded into the table.
The barbecue menu divides into Korean cuisine standards (22 items such as soups, stews, ribs and stone pot meals), table cooking hot pots, Korean à la carte dishes and noodle bowls.
Chap chae could feed a small vegetarian army, which might explain the steep $19.95 price tag. Plenty of pleasantly crisp zucchini, slices of red and green pepper, shredded carrot, scallions and mushroom pieces top the cellophane noodles. Sesame seeds add textural variety. While the vegetables themselves satisfy, the chap chae base, stir-fried in soy, sugar, chili and not enough sesame oil, leaves something to be desired. The noodles are gummy, and after a few minutes, they congeal into a solid mass.
9625 Yonge St. 905-737-9999
Dinner for two excluding tax, tip, and alcohol:
Soondubu jjigae is described on the menu as “a spicy red stew with soft tofu, vegetables and beef,” but what arrives doesn’t taste like it reads. True, yes, a clear, red-hued broth suspends super-soft tofu, yet the only identifiable vegetables are cabbage and onion, and the teeny beef pieces taste bland.
Kazan’s redeeming main dish comes in the form of yangneum galbi ($24.95). Our server brings two generous strips of raw meaty short ribs plated on bushy Boston lettuces, snipping them tableside. She reaches under our table to light the grill (well, hello there!), and we’re left to our own devices.
It seems we can’t go wrong. No matter if we leave our meat too long, the morsels remain tender and yielding, thanks, no doubt, to the marinade of sweet and savoury red pepper sauce.
Dakbulgogi ($16.95) is to be assembled the same way. Although it’s labelled on the menu as “spicy,” there’s not much sass to the reddish sauce slathered on raw chicken breast strips. Button mushrooms (beware the dry heat they contain when cooked this way) and crisp scallions constitute the dish’s “vegetables.”
Accompanying these two à la carte options are the usual battery of Korean side dishes: not-too-killer kimchee, pickled radish, green beans with cabbage, jalapenos and slices of raw garlic; slices of fish cake; pickled crunchy cucumber; and miso soup.