Seor Ak San

If you do some research on Seor Ak San, you will find out that it’s the name of a mountain in South Korea.  It is also the namesake of the National Park in the same region.  To us on this side of the world, it is the name of a Korean Restaurant in downtown Toronto.  Located along the Spadina corridor of Chinatown, it saves us from having to go to the Bloor Street K-town or the Yonge and Finch neighbourhood.

I will admit, I’ve walked by this place several times, and it’s always been one of those “I wonder if it’s any good…” type places.  So, even in the rain, we walked the 15 minutes and went.  It was TOTALLY worth it.

Having to walk down stairs is already a slight drawback in terms of location.  However, once you see the inside, you realize it’s very spacious, well-lit, and the menu is huge!  I would even suggest that they reduce the number of dishes just to make their lives a bit easier.

As with most Korean restaurants, they start the dining experience with some tea or a bottle of pour-it-yourself water.  I don’t recall their beverage offerings but that’s not usually high on my list of what to notice.  Everyone will be impressed by the number of banchan (side dishes) you get with all orders.  Kimchi, marinated cucumber, chap chae (glass noodles), potatoes, sweet beans, seaweed salad, and Korean pancake.  Count’em, 7 side dishes!

According to one of the servers (owner?), the spicy kalbi is one of their most popular dishes.  Let me tell you why:  for $12.99, you get a sizzling hot plate with a thin bed of onions, and on top are layered pieces of Korean styled short ribs that were tender and full of flavour.  Not your usual long strips of short ribs.  They’ve done some of the work for you by cutting the pieces per bone.  Each one was very lean.  Don’t you hate it when some places just give you huge pieces with massive chunks of fat attached?

If you’ve eaten Korean, you’re sure to have had bibimbap.  A bowl of rice topped with vegetables, meat, and a fried egg.  Here, I had the dolsot bibimbap which is the exact same thing but in a stone bowl, $8.99.  I don’t know what they do but the stone bowl is REALLY HOT and the rice actually gets this nice golden brown colour and has a nice crisp to it.  Some people stir it once they get it.  I personally try to monitor it to the point where the rice comes up in one solid piece.  The rice was covered with seven different vegetables (zucchini, bean sprouts, daikon, mushrooms, purple cabbage, carrots, and spinach).  There was a small mound of bulgogi styled beef and then all of this was topped with a fried egg.  Huge and delicious!  The spicy red sauce that comes with all bibimbap bowls is perfectly balanced, not too salty, sweet, or spicy.   I couldn’t eat it all so I had to pack half of my bowl which was fine because it made a great lunch for the next day.

Without any hesitation whatsoever, I recommend this place for lunch (they have lots of lunch specials) or dinner for yourself, for two, for a party of however many.  They are genuinely nice people who serve deliciously authentic Korean food at very reasonable prices.  I know I’m going to go back and I can’t wait to try other dishes off their extensive menu.

Address:  357 Spadina Ave, Toronto, ON M5T
Phone:  416-977-2788

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