On a Saturday night, Stella and I decided to have dinner at Imonay House Restaurant (665 Bloor Street) in downtown Koreatown, a short walk from Christie station on Bloor and Manning. This small hole-in-the-wall place is identifiable by a bright yellow sign and was recommended to me by my friend Hellen, who is a fan of their food and their friendly service, particularly one of the servers named Gina.
It was around 6:30pm and the restaurant was pretty packed; I had to squeeze in to fit inside and not block the door too much. Luckily, it was only a 10-15 minute wait for a table for two.
We were given a choice of hot or cold water and served a delicious array of banchan, or side dishes, that come standard with any Korean meal. All were quite good (nothing tasted stale), and as usual, my favourites were the seaweed and fish cake strips.
rice cakes, veggies, and fish cakes stir-fried with Korean chili pepper sauce; spicy
Stella and I got this appetizer (A2 on the menu) to share. This is definitely one of the best dukbokki dishes I’ve had in Toronto, and really reminded me of being back in Korea! The sauce isn’t too thin and has great flavour. The rice cakes are also super soft; usually I find them too chewy.
traditionally fermented soybean soup with tofu and vegetables; vegetarian
Having done a little bit of research, I already knew this was the dish I wanted to try at this restaurant before we walked in. Chunggukchang (#11 on the menu under ‘savoury soups’) is basically a stronger version of the more commonly known dwenjangjjigae (fermented soybean soup, normally served with seafood) and is rarely actually seen on the menu in Korean restaurants in Toronto. I’ve been told even a lot of native Koreans can’t stand this stew because of the strong smell and taste. At the time, it was spotlighted on the Imonay Restaurant chalkboard as “the best Korean food, healing food, and beauty & healthy food”.
The smell doesn’t bother me at all, and as an eager fan of dwenjangjjigae, I was excited to finally try this. The soup came with a bowl of purple rice. I enjoyed it, though I actually prefer dwenjangjjigae just because I felt I needed more variety in this stew. I missed the seafood present in dwenjangjjigae. I didn’t find it particularly spicy, but the fermented soybean taste is definitely stronger and quite delicious.
This is a nice little homey restaurant in Koreatown, and though there are a lot in Koreatown, this is still one that I can see myself returning to. The food is inexpensive and great quality, and the service is friendly and efficient.