Hodo Kwaja Korean Bakery

Hodo Kwaja (http://hodokwaja.ca/menu/) is a cute little Korean bakery that makes madeleines and waffle cookies, and also makes walnut cakes and Korean pancakes right in front of your eyes. Clearly this is a bakery run with passion, and according to their website they use no preservatives. Watching a skillful woman make Korean pancakes was a very enticing experience– seeing the dough kneaded and then flattened on to a sizzling cooktop, only to brown to a lovely golden colour. 

What’s not to love?

Well…if you’re me, Korean baked goods in general, it appears. We ordered 6 walnut cakes ($2) in all 3 flavours, as well as a Korean pancake with cinnamon/sugar/peanut filling.

My friend and I did not even want to finish them– which is a complete non-event when we go out to eat.

I think it must be that the ingredients are just not things I particularly enjoy, nor do I consider healthy– e.g. corn syrup, sugar, margarine, potato powder…the bland, starchy sweetness is just not my style.

I wish I loved it, though, because this place seems like a very worthwhile place to support. Check it out for yourself!

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Hi! There Korean Restaurant

Hi! There Korean Restaurant
599 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON

Food: *
Service: /*
Recommended: Yes
Price for 2: $25 (2 dolsot bibimbaps)
Other: Cash only

Hi! There is the first restaurant stop on my attempt to systematically visit all the Korean restaurants in Koreatown– and I’d say it was a good start!

The restaurant itself is tiny and cash-only. The menu is huge, with stews, stir fries, fried rice, and of course regular and hot stone bibimbap (the latter $8.99 with a variety of toppings including shrimp, squid, bulgogi beef, chicken, veggies, and kimchi & cheese).

Upon arrival, our server gave us a friendly greeting (can you guess what it was?) and brought everything with a smile and a quick explanation of what things were.


The bibimbap came with a delicious assortment of veggies (the mushrooms were particularly good) and shaved bulgogi beef (not ground beef, a pet peeve of mine). The bowl was sizzling although I didn’t get the best crust on my rice.

Hi! THere BanchanThe banchan was quite good and generously portioned- kimchi, pickled cucumber and radish, salted bean sprouts, potatoes in sweet sauce, and what looked like cold jap chae. If I could have 6 things of pickled radish I would. But I’m not complaining.

They also served miso soup that was very heavy on the miso, so quite salty.

Overall, Hi! There satisfied my bibimbap craving at an affordable price. I felt quite smug when I walked by Ka Chi (Korean food for white people, just a few stores away) and saw the same menu item for $13.95.

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Napoli Centrale

Napoli Centrale

Food: */** (Met expectations)
Service: /* (Approached expectations)
Ambiance: * (Met expectations)
Recommended: Probably
Price for 2: $75 (2 pizzas, a half-litre of house wine)

I am obsessed with neapolitan pizza. On that count, Napoli Centrale did not disappoint- the pizze oozed tradition and the crusts were perfection.

We ordered a margherita (my standard benchmark of comparison) and a napoletana (sausage/rapini/fior di latte). The margherita had a lovely sauce (although I find the traditional sauce lacking a little oomph), that perfect soft melty fior di latte cheese, 2 leaves of basil (apparently sparse basil is a thing…why?) and a crust that didn’t sag in the middle (hallelujah).

The napoletana was not for me…I have solidified that I don’t like rapini because I find it unpleasantly bitter. The sausage was also a bit bland, making the overall pizza leave something to be desired.

The sangiovese house wine was warm and quite serviceable.

In terms of ambiance, I think I’d like to sit near the oven at the back on a cold day. We were at the front by the open windows (which was nice), but I just wasn’t getting the feel I was hoping for. That wasn’t helped by our waiter, who was really nice but certainly did not lend any “traditional” cred.

I think I’d like to give Napoli Centrale another try when I’m craving pizza (but NO rapini!).  The price point is as good or better than other places, and the quality is impressive…no wonder it’s getting rave reviews!


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Crêpes à GoGo

Crêpes à GoGo
750 Spadina Ave (actually off Bloor St. W- near 417)
Toronto, Ontario,

Food: ** (Exceeds expectations)
Service: See review
Ambiance: See review
Recommended: Unsure
Price for 2: $25 (2 crepes, 2 coffees)

Walking into Crêpes à GoGo feels like walking into Paris, which I love. The staff will greet you in french and go on speaking in french if you do! It has a very authentic vibe, and is a fun space, although there’s minimal seating and I wouldn’t plan to have a leisurely meal there.

The crêpes on the menu are a wonderful mix of sweet and savory, and though I have read on online reviews that the batter base is made off-site, the rest of the ingredients are top quality. I absolutely love the flavour combinations, especially the sweet-savory ones (like La Véronique- Brie, baby spinach, strawberry slices, maple syrup). The pricing isn’t over the top, where most of the combination/savory crêpes are between $7-10 and the basic sweet crêpes (e.g. chocolate, maple syrup, cinnamon sugar) are $5-6. All the crêpes I have eaten there have been delicious and the flavour balance has been lovely.

I would enthusiastically recommend Crêpes à GoGo if I hadn’t been genuinely stressed by the behaviour of owner/manager/chef Véronique (aka GoGo) on several occasions. She is clearly very passionate and knowledgable about her product, which I can appreciate, but on all the occasions I have visited she has made extremely opinionated comments that I found uncomfortable and intrusive. Much worse, I heard her yelling at her staff openly in the restaurant, which really upset me.

I guess what I’m really looking for is Crêpes moins GoGo? I love her product but have found her treatment of myself and others to be very discouraging.

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Sunrise House Korean Restaurant

Sunrise House Korean Restaurant
661 Bloor Street West,
Toronto, Ontario,

Food: * (Met expectations)
Service: * (Met expectations)
Ambiance: * (Met expectations)
Recommended: Yes
Price for 2: $30 (tea & water, complimentary miso soup and side dishes, seafood pancake and 2 hot stone bibimbaps with bulgogi- $25 before tip)

Sunrise House is clearly an Annex/Koreatown staple and has a loyal following in the neighbourhood. According to their Facebook page, “No M.S.G is used. Our quality and quantity speaks for itself. Our menu has vegetarian friendly meals as well. Our prices are amazing and competitive. Come and enjoy our food and services!”

I definitely enjoyed their banchan (side dishes), their crispy, tasty seafood pancake, the generous portions, the family atmosphere, and the prices! The bibimbap wasn’t my favourite I’ve had- the vegetables were a bit lacklustre and the rice didn’t get as crispy as I’d like. But overall it was a good experience.

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Mengrai Gourmet Thai

Mengrai Gourmet Thai

Food:  (Did not meet expectations)
Recommended: No
Price for 2: $40 (2 pad thai and 2 rolls)
Times visited: 1
Other: Dine in or takeout

Mengrai Thai started off great. I called to place a take-out order, and the guy on the phone was friendly and helpful, repeating back my order, confirming any allergies, and telling me it would be ready for pickup in 15 minutes (quick!). I arrived a tiny bit early and was graciously seated and offered a complimentary glass of wine. I was pleasantly surprised when my order came that the food was so affordable: original pad thai and regular pad thai with chicken and shrimp (each $10.95), spring rolls ($3.75) and salad rolls ($2.75). 

However, things went downhill from there. Despite my clear instructions that I was allergic to green onions, both orders of pad thai contained liberal amounts. The vegetarian spring rolls were very freezer-to-frier, and the cold rolls were bland and chewy. Both were served with a generic sweet-chili sauce. The regular pad thai was the reddish, sweet, saucy kind, and honestly wasn’t that bad compared to others I’d had, but just wasn’t amazing. The original pad thai had a weird oily flavour and the fish taste was too strong for me. Overall, the word “gourmet” in Mengrai’s name is pushing it to the extreme as far as the food quality is concerned. 

Back to the drawing board for decent thai food in Toronto…


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1063 Bloor St W
No website

Food: ** (Exceeded expectations)
Service: ** (Exceeded expectations)
Ambiance: ** (Exceeded expectations)
Recommended: Yes
Price for 2: $50 (Entrees and 1 drink each)
Times visited: 1
Other: Vegetarian options available

This low-lit, exposed brick neighbourhood bar with a refined-yet-relaxed vibe was a lucky internet find. We went on a weeknight and were surprised to have to wait 15-30 minutes to be seated– clearly a popular spot!

And for a good reason- the food was about as good as bar food gets. My friend and I split the black and blue burger- a delicious patty with blue cheese and cajun spice ($10) and the fish tacos, 3 tacos with avocado puree, cilantro, cabbage, and perfectly battered and cooked fish ($15). Both were right on point and devoured quickly. The menu was diverse and included a cucumber gazpacho, chicken curry roti, a caprese sandwich, and jalapeno smoked pork, with most items hovering at the $10 mark.

Our server was also really friendly and the ambiance was great- ideal for a first date. I would definitely return!

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