Stumbled upon Paldogangsu restaurant in Koreatown today and was delighted with their gamjatang or Korean pork bone soup.
It's easy to walk pass Paldogangsan and miss it completely. The eatery is at the western fringe of Koreatown at 694 Bloor St. West.
You have to walk up a short flight of steps to get to the entrance. The main signboard 팔도강산 is in Korean and the English sign Paldogangsan is small. Paldogangsan roughly translated means "Our mountains and valleys". But, most non Koreans would have no impression of the phrase, so it is easy to forget.
Another signboard is on the side wall and again it is easy to miss this. It just says Paldo.
Stepping inside the quiet eatery during lunch time and there was only one other customer (a Korean gentleman eating ramen) besides myself - the quietness doesn't inspire much confidence.
The friendly young Korean staff manning the front quickly engaged me as I stepped in, which is reassuring. (Otherwise, I would have quietly retreated back down onto the street below the stairs.)
I looked towards the kitchen at the far end - seeing a middle aged Korean speaking couple inside gave me renewed confidence.
I had wanted to try Korean oxtail soup but it was not on the menu (which otherwise has most of the usual staple comfort dishes).
The staff recommended gamjatang - "our top seller" he said. I decided to go along.
The gamjatang which costs CDN9.05 tax included comes bubbling hot in a deep clay bowl with accompanying banchan or small side dishes and boiled white rice.
There were potatoes in the bowl which I like as it adds a comforting homely sweetness to the dish.
There were 4 pieces of meaty pork spine bones in the bowl.
The meat - and there was lots of it - was done just right. They were fall-off-the-bone juicy tender yet still had some bite left i.e. not mushy soft.
The meat was naturally sweet and was complemented by sweetness from the potatoes. There was a mild savouriness from the seasoning in the watery soup. There was also a gentle hint of spiciness from chili flakes.
There were various soft tissues and cartilage wedged in the bone crevices.
There were only three customers the whole lunch time I was at Paldogangsan.
In the privacy of my own booth seat, I indulged myself in digging out the last sliver of meat, tissue and cartilage in the spine bones 😄
I thoroughly enjoyed myself 😆
👉 There was a lot of food and I finished everything, including down to the last drop of soup.
With a dozen Korean eateries in Koreatown, Paldogangsan is a little under the radar. But, their gamjatang is excellent. I haven't tried their other dishes but I strongly suspect that Paldogangsan is a hidden gem of an eatery. Do give it a try 😄
Restaurant name: Paldogangsan
Address: 694 Bloor St West, Toronto, ON M6G 1L5
GPS: 43°39'50.0"N 79°25'02.8"W 43.663887, -79.417456
Tel: (416) 536-7517
Hours: 11:00am to 2:00pm
Date: 13 Apr 2017