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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cho Sun Ok :: Cold Noodles Win

How do you stay cool in the summer? It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of ice cream & gelato on hot summer nights, but equally satisfying is a good bowl of Naeng Myeon - cold Korean-style arrowroot noodles. Out of all the Naeng Myeon that I've tried in Toronto, Cho Sun Ok's is my favourite and I'll happily eat it at anytime of the year - regardless of the weather.

Cho Sun Ok
Verdict: Go! Finally a great bowl of cold noodles in Toronto. Poor service, but great noodles made up for that. Avoid their kalbi & tang soo yuk.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$15 + tax & tip
Location: 7353 Yonge St, Markham



Their menu features a wide variety of dishes - mostly typical Korean fare. However, people usually go for their cold noodles. They also feature an extensive list of Sundae ("soon-deh") dishes, which is Korean sausage made with pig organs and intestines. While tasty, the description alone is enough to make some snouts curl. Observing the other tables, I noted that it wasn't as popular as Naeng Myeon. However, keep in mind that it was a hot summer evening and the cold noodles are just that good. I personally like Sundae (spelling it like that is making me want ice cream...argh. I better switch to Soondae), and encourage you to try it! Some find me a little adventurous, trying Bellevue's peanut butter-sardine-sprout sandwich, squirming baby octopus (in Korea), and raw horse sammies, but how boring would life be if you didn't try everything at least once?! So try it. I dare you.


Outside, Menu

Chik Bibim Naeng Myeon
Thin arrowroot noodles with a special sauce
Win!



This was perfect for the hot day. The slushy broth, cooling veggies, chilled arrowroot noodles, and sliced hard-boiled egg made this the most satisfying bowl of noodles that I've had in Toronto.  I chowed until all that was left was a puddle of the "special spicy sauce" which I loved. From what I observed, it's essentially hot pepper paste (gochu-jang), hot pepper flakes, and probably a bit of soy & minced garlic. Drool. My dad raised his eyebrows and shook his head when I started to dip our other food into the sauce. "You're so weird" he said, as he continued to shove his hands in front of my camera in an attempt to ruin each picture. Thanks Dad. I now have several photos of his fingers and palms on my camera. My mom seemed to like those more than the actual food pictures, and suggested that I use those too. Sigh.

Ready ready for my belly belly

The slurried broth kept the dish chilled while I ate through my mother's plate of Tang Soo Yuk (aside from her company, one of the perks of eating with my mom is that I pretty much have two dinners in one. She's a light eater who raised a hungry sasquatch of a daughter). My father and I shared dumplings & short ribs. By the end of the meal, I was gleefully and uncomfortably rubbing my stomach, which grew quite the food baby.

Chop chop chop!
Upon being served, they offer to cut your noodles so it's easier to eat. I still managed to spill sauce all over my pants, as I'm super clumsy with food. Tide pen to the rescue.

Anyways (these posts are quickly becoming more rambling than food-reviewing), I can quite honestly say that this was the best bowl of cold noodles that I've had to date, rivalling South Korea. While it may seem backwards to eat spicy food when it's hot, it was super satisfying and it didn't make me feel hotter at all. In fact, if anything the spice boosts your circulation which would cool your body even faster. </nerd>



Not a fan of spicy food? No problem. They offer Mul Naeng Myeon, which is essentially the same thing but without the spicy sauce (but that's what makes this so good, so please...get the bibim!!). It comes with seasonal fruit - watermelon was being served night. I like watermelon, but I love spice. Frown for you if you skip the spice.

Hot mustard sauce + Spicy sauce = Awesomesauce
I also like squirting hot mustard all over my noodles, which I did on the side in case if my mom wanted to have more noodles (she didn't, to the food baby's delight). You can also add vinegar, but I don't like it in my Naeng Myeon.

Tang Soo Yuk
Korean-style Chinese dish. Sweet & Sour Pork
Soggy :(
A childhood favourite of mine, this is an example of Korean-style Chinese cuisine. There are many dishes that you'll find in Korean restaurant under this niche - Jajamyeon (black bean noodles) is another popular example. Sticky-sweet, when it's done right the deep-fried pork, chicken, or beef has super crispy batter and is tender on the inside with a generous helping of sugary syrup, vegetables and fruit. Unfortunately, this was not done right. It was squishy, not crispy, which pretty much ruined the dish.

When asked by the owner how we liked our meal, my parents politely replied in Korean that it was fine and I made a comment that the Tang Soo Yuk was too squishy. Unfortunately, I unwittingly replied in rapid English in a noisy restaurant so I received a vague nod before he sauntered away to ask the next table. My parents thought that it was hilarious. I'm glad that I entertain my family.

Kalbi
Grilled, marinated beef short ribs
Skip this...
I've had better - much better. I am a bit of snob since I often make my own short ribs, but since I don't have a grill I like ordering them from restaurants. The cut of meat tasted low grade and fatty, and the flavour was lacking from the missing green onions. Moving on.


Mandu (dumplings)
Available fried or steamed
Deep fried goodness!
Another dish that I often make on my own, I still like to order these in restaurants since I never deep-fry them at home. I was pleased with these, and I would order them again with my noodles over the kalbi any day!


I was a little frustrated with the service, but it was super-busy so I wasn't upset. The servers were rushing between tables, so they definitely weren't slacking. I was simply anxious to get my banchan because I was super hungry and jealously watching other tables get theirs while we were a little forgotten...even though we were right in front of the kitchen. Oddly, we received our mandu (dumplings) and kalbi (short ribs) before our banchan but again, they were under quite a bit of pressure so I didn't complain. We were also not given a box of cutlery, and it was hard to wave a server down. Needing something to eat the food on our table, I leaned over and swiped a box from another table much to my mother's horror. I was hungry.


Banchan. Not a fan of the mayonnaise-covered potatoes & vegetables

After a friend complained to me about this, I feel like I should make a note that sometimes you receive different banchan depending on your order. Some banchan are simply more appropriate for a soupy meal while others with rice. It's not a racial thing - I was there with my parents, clearly Korean, and we didn't receive pickled cucumbers or sprouts that other tables got. Just a little FYI =)


Cho Sun Ok
Verdict: Go! Finally a great bowl of cold noodles in Toronto. Poor service, but great noodles made up for that. Avoid their kalbi & tang soo yuk.
Meal: Dinner
Price: ~$15 + tax & tip
Location: 7353 Yonge St, Markham



Cho Sun Ok on Urbanspoon

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I went here the other day with my sister and now wished I've gotten the spicy "bibim" version of the cold noodles instead. I still thought that the one I had was one of the best Korean dishes I've ever eaten. The kalbi was definitely not a strong point.

Erin said...

That just means that you have to go back :D We're in a heat wave, so it's perfect! Nope, not a strong point...I say stick with their mandu if you want a little something extra. Their sweet & sour pork wasn't good so I'd be skeptical about their kan pong gi (k-style hot wings) and other soups

Me ... said...

Omg I just had my first Korean food experince the other day in NYC, and I must say that the banchan was such a surprise ...
I loved the food though ... I will make sure that next time I go there I try to get the cold noodles ... :)
love the blog erin ...
ps its divya

Erin said...

hey Divya =) You're in NYC? That's fantastic! NYC has great Korean food - it's much less of a hunt to find yummy fare there than Toronto, especially if you're close to the Financial District and willing to shell out a few more dollars. I hope you're having a great time and try lots of great food down there! <3

Me ... said...

Hey Erin,
I actually work on Wall Street, and I would love to get a recommendation or two for resturants in NYC ... I can't wait to actually try some of the really awesome food I see on the blog ...

Erin said...

Here's a good resource for you to try if you're looking for recs: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/18
I'll leave you in the good hands of the NYC foodie experts :)

Karen Ling said...

i rarely order the cold noodles since they always turn out flavorless...the only time i eat it is at my bf place when his parents make it...they used to own a restaurant and i think they make it the best

now after reading your review i might just give it a try here since their seafood soup is yummy...once again great pix as always

Erin said...

Aw thanks Karen :)
You're blog is awesome! I need to get back into it. I have so many entries to catch up on...wish I wasnt so busy @_@

Karen Ling said...

lol thx but i definitely luv reading urs...much more interesting and fun to read...my friends just look at my pix lol they don't even read it...can't wait to read about your new adventures:)

Erin said...

Aw :) Thats sweet. I need to update soon!

Karen Ling said...

lol thx but i definitely luv reading urs...much more interesting and fun to read...my friends just look at my pix lol they don't even read it...can't wait to read about your new adventures:)

Erin said...

Aw :) Thats sweet. I need to update soon!

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