Where Core Korean Kitchen chef Hyun Kim gets to-go beef bibimbap, pork bone soup and karaage chicken

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Where Core Korean Kitchen chef Hyun Kim gets to-go beef bibimbap, pork bone soup and karaage chicken

We’re asking Toronto chefs and restaurateurs which takeout dishes have been getting them through the pandemic

Chef Hyun “H” Kim opened his first restaurant, Leslieville’s Core, in 2018. When the pandemic hit, Kim tried to maintain the seasonal Canadian bistro concept, but after taking into consideration his own heritage—and his fiancée’s advice—reinvented it as a Korean restaurant last May. According to Kim, the east end was in need of a good Korean restaurant, anyway. While the reception from the community has been positive, business was still been bumpy—due in part to significantly decreased alcohol sales. So he pivoted once again, creating Core Bubble Tea to complement the restaurant’s menu offerings. It’s set to open later this spring.

“I know how hard it is to run an independent restaurant—especially during the pandemic—so whenever I order takeout, I tend to support smaller restaurants like my own. Depending on their schedule, Kim and his fiancée try to order takeout at least twice a week. Here are a few of their go-to spots for delicious and affordable meals in the city.

Sushi & Bbbop

#57-384 Yonge St., 647-557-3922, sushiandbbbop.com

“I have been going to this place for several years now. It’s located in the deserted food court of Aura building at Yonge and Gerrard. I used to live in the Aura condo but I still live nearby, so whenever I want delicious and affordable Korean food, this is my go-to takeout spot. They make all the popular Korean staples I grew up eating. Even if you’re trying Korean food for the first time, you can’t go wrong with anything on this menu. They also have been giving free food to those who need it during the pandemic, so if you’re looking to support local independent businesses, this should definitely be one of them.”

Go-to item 1: Beef bibimbap
Tasting notes: “This is one of the most traditional Korean dishes. It consists of bulgogi beef and various vegetables—usually carrots, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach—on top of rice with a fried egg and some gochujang. Mix it all up before you eat it. It is healthy, delicious and comforting.”

Go-to item 2: Gamjatang
Tasting notes: “Also known as pork bone soup, this popular soup is hearty and comforting. Pork bones—usually neck bones—are simmered in a Korean soybean-based broth for a couple of hours until tender, then served with potatoes, cabbage and a warm bowl of rice.”

Go-to item 3: Don katsu
Tasting notes: “This deep-fried pork cutlet is similar to schnitzel. It comes with a warm bowl of rice, cabbage salad and sweet don katsu sauce.”

Sunny Dragon Restaurant

398 Steeles Ave. W., Thornhill, 905-707-5550, sunnydragon.ca

“This Korean-style Chinese restaurant is where my family went for all gatherings and celebrations before the pandemic, but they do takeout, too. They offer many different combo menus which are great value and a smart way to try many different dishes at the same time.”

Go-to item 1: Gan ja jang
Tasting notes: “This is a noodle dish made with black bean sauce, beef, onions, zucchini and cabbage. It’s affordable, delicious and comforting food everyone loves—and it’s my personal favourite.”

Go-to item 2: Tang su yuk
Tasting notes: “This is pork that’s breaded and deep fried, then mixed with sweet and sour sauce. It’s basically sweet-and-sour pork. It’s succulent, delicious and addictive.”

Onnki Donburi

40 Hayden St., 647-349-7707, onnkidonburi.com

“This Japanese-style donburi (rice bowl) restaurant provide consistently delicious, nicely presented, high-quality dishes. They’re very affordable, too.”

Go-to item 1: Sake Lover
Tasting notes: “This dish is a salmon sashimi donburi. Salmon slices are very fresh and the rice is seasoned well. It’s very balanced.”

Go-to item 2: Unagi don
Tasting notes: “This eel rice bowl is bold and rich in flavour. The eel itself has a soft and slightly chewy texture with subtle sweetness.”

Go-to item 3: Red karaage
Tasting notes: “This is fried chicken with peanuts and red sauce. The sauce is similar to the sweet and spicy one used in a lot of Korean fried chicken dishes, including my own. The chicken is juicy and tender inside but with a nice crust outside, and the sauce is simply delicious.”