Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Going Beyond BBQ for Korean

I had not had some authentic Korean food in quite a while, so I asked my sister to suggest a Korean restaurant before our night out at the movies.  She recommended Mot Na Son, a small restaurant that appeared to be family-operated located in North York Centre, one of several Korean business hubs in Toronto.  Compared to other Korean restaurants I've tried in the Toronto area, the focus wasn't BBQ, though that was a possible option.  I appreciated this as I wanted to try other aspects of Korean cuisine, and I was not disappointed.
Gamjatang (Pork Bone Soup)
What better way to warm up a hungry belly in the winter than a hot bowl of soup?  I had to try another signature Korean soup besides Ginseng Chicken Soup, and I found it in Gamjatang, also known as Pork Bone Soup.  Originating from Jeolla in southern South Korea, this restaurant's version was made with pork spine, potatoes, bean sprouts and some chili peppers.  Though it wasn't as spicy as I anticipated, it was served very hot and maintained its temperature in the stone serving bowl for most of our dinner, which meant I had to take my time to sip the soup.  The broth had a thicker consistency, and the only downside was that the meat was challenging to dig from the bones; the soup was otherwise delicious and quite belly-warming.
Vegetable Soup Udon
Along with several banchan dishes, including the classic kimchi, a seaweed salad, and marinated daikon, just to name a few, our second of three dishes, Vegetable Soup Udon, arrived.  The lightest of the three dishes, the udon noodles were thinner than the typical Japanese equivalent, and I enjoyed the simplicity of this dish as well as its clean, light flavouring.  It was a good thing we had a light dish, for another richer dish was arriving.
Haemul Pajeon (Seafood Green Onion Pancake)
The last dish to arrive was the Haemul Pajeon, closely translated as Seafood Green Onion Pancake.  Jeon is a pancake-like dish, and pajeon is where green onions are a main ingredient.  Whereas a Chinese green onion pancake is made of dough, pajeon is made of a batter of eggs, wheat flour and rice flour.  Though pan-fried, it was not cooked until crispy, but I still enjoyed how every bite was a bit of a surprise.  I didn't know if I was going to get a mouthful of green onion, squid or shrimp, and I also enjoyed the varying textures within the pajeon.

I would recommend Mot Na Son if you're looking for authentic Korean food and especially more of the family-style cooking rather than the formal cuisines or BBQ's.  I'm sure there are other good options in the Toronto area, but if you're in the North York Centre neighbourhood, you can't go wrong with this place.

Name: Mot Na Son Restaurant
Address: 5374 Yonge St., Toronto, ON
Cuisine: Korean
Price Range: $15-$30/person (multi-person set meals also available)
Accessible: No

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