Fresh off the Plate: South Korean street eats in Toronto’s Little Italy

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In this episode of Fresh off the Plate, Liem Vu tries authentic South Korean street food at Boonsik restaurant in Toronto. – Feb 25, 2020

It’s unbelievable how food can function like a time-travelling Delorean.

When I was in high school, I went to a Korean church with my friends and spicy Korean rice cakes became a weekly staple whenever we went out. That feeling of nostalgia took me to Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood to visit Boonsik for Fresh off the Plate, a four-part series dedicated to the restaurants that work tirelessly to bring the flavours of the past into the present and future.

Boonsik roughly translates to “food with flour” and references the rice shortage in the ’60s when Koreans were urged by the government to use flour and barley instead. Today, it references a vibrant street food scene in South Korea.

Crispy sugar-coated corndog made with flour and rice flour, filled with half mozzarella and half beef sausage. Liem Vu/Global News

“I love Boonsik, I love street food. But there’s no restaurants that specialize in Boonsik and that’s why I started this one,” says chef and owner Paul Kim, who was trained at Le Cordon Bleu.

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The minimal menu at Boonsik is full of flavour, whether it’s the cheese-filled mini Korndog, the bulgogi kimbap or the spicy and sweet tteokbokki rice cakes.

Sesame oil-coated dry seaweed rice roll filled with bulgogi, carrots, lettuce, perilla leaves, sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms. Liem Vu/Global News

Boonsik is more than a restaurant for Kim, it’s a trip down memory lane.

“I always went to the Korean street market with my mom,” says Kim. “There was dumplings steaming, frying everywhere. Tteokbokki is one of the dishes that brings me back to my childhood.”

Rice cake, fish cake and boiled egg in gochujang sauce made with dried anchovy stock, topped with green onions. Liem Vu/Global News


50c Clinton St.

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Read the rest of the Fresh off the Plate series here.

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Liem Vu is a co-host and weather anchor on ‘Global News Morning’ in Toronto.

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