I really enjoy fusion cuisine. The ability to take two or more things that work, and bring them together to make something new and exciting. And in this case, the outcome was the inventive menu of “Kosoo”. Korean fusion with Spanish and Italian influences, made by french trained chefs.
Today we have been invited down to their restaurant to try their new spring menu. A list worthy of printing out and posting on a banner outside their entrance.When it comes to a media event, plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.
Their restaurant is kept fairly dark with a well stocked bar. Both make it the type of place you could gather at for a light lunch, and then have it transition into the ideal spot for date night. So naturally we started our visit with a few sangrias in white and red, stepping forward with their Spanish influences.
We took a seat on their wooden booth by the window. Our backs against the back lit, violet wall; right under the words “eat” in metal letters. It felt appropriate. The restaurant’s name would follow, a few more decorative pieces amongst a line up of vases.
Our meal began with their “Caprese”. It is worth noting here, that their spring menu took the time to educate their customer. Each item was listed with a photo, the dish’s name and price, as well as some historical or cultural tidbit on the plate itself. Like how caprese originated from Capri, Naples in Italy. Their version was a lot more dramatic and flavourful than the traditional. It utilized savoury garlic and fresh onions in its peso-like sauce. The perfect zesty pick me up for the milder slices of fresh tomato and soften cheese.
The “Toro sashimi” by contrast needed no add-on our flavour or accentuate it. The menu made sure to note that “tuna belly is often considered the best part” of the fish. The time the chef took to present each individual slice like the petals to a rose was memorable. It spoke to the beauty of the raw fish. For me, I preferred its rich, buttery texture dipped into a little bit of soy.
Truthfully I am not a fan for leafy greens, and especially wilted spinach. Therefore I avoided the “Gomae”, a traditional Japanese side dish of spinach. Although it was interesting to note their use of authentic Korean sesame seeds to bring a different flavour mix to fragrant the greens.
Their “Spicy tuna roll’ was a California roll topped with seared tuna and jalapeños, drizzled with spicy mayo and special sauce. A little bit of heat, but mostly imitation crab meat and mayonnaise.
Very similar was their “Unagi roll”. Unagi and avocado topping another California roll. It had some tang from the brown sauce drizzled over, but nothing that had it standing out. In totality both rolls weren’t anything you couldn’t find anywhere else, nor did it speak to their theme.
Their “Cheese chicken galbi” is their signature dish and quite the showstopper. Chicken galbi is a spicy Korean style chicken. Here, it is mixed together with bean thread noodles and kimchi vegetables. The mound of which sits at the centre of their cast iron pot, which is served on a stand. The stand is home to a flame that keeps the meat warm, and melts the two dips that are served on the outer edge of this specialty pot. You can dip the chicken into either a troth of mozzarella cheese, or one yam puree with sweet corn kernels.
Sadly no matter how long we waited, we just couldn’t get the cheese to melt to the perfect stringy and gooey texture. One tug of the string lifted all the congealed cheese up and out of its metal canal all at once. Similarly the puree never got warm enough to have that smooth pasty texture. Instead it was chunky and lumpy like a hummus. As for the flavours all three elements were complimentary to one another. The salty, milky cheese was especially helpful in cooling down the spiciness of the chicken. The noodles added some chew, and the corn a bit of sweetness.
The “Tomato mussel stew”, was pretty self explanatory by its name. Tomato and fresh mussels in a stew with Korean spices and prawn. I liked this dish the least. The sour and tangy korean spices gave this dish an additional fishy and salty flavour. I felt it had a teaspoon too much sea salt.
Very similar, but more like traditional mussels and frites was the “Gambas”. This is a classic Spanish tapas dish seasoned with Korean dried chilies and plenty of garlic sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
This was the most memorable dish in appearance and name. The “Spicy Popeye gyoza” is perfectly folded dough, surrounding a juicy prawn with spinach and creamy cheese. This crispy take on gyozas also included a chipotle-like mayo for dipping.
There is also a “Truffle japache”, which I was highly interested in trying, but we didn’t get a chance to. According to the menu truffles are called the “black diamonds of the earth”. Its presence in the dish was suppose to add a little richness in aroma and taste to the most traditional of Korean noodle dishes. Their version of the popular noodle dish was topped with beef “dduk-galbi”. “Japache” was was originally associated with Korea’s royalty, and with truffles in the mix I am sure this was taken to the next level.
The following are a few dishes not on their spring menu. Instead, there are some of the popular dishes off their regular menu that we got to try.
The “Tartar sampler” were three scoops worth of tuna, salmon, and beef tartar. Well seasoned, these were fun morsels to start your meal with. Thought I would have liked some starch or a stiff crostini to use as a base for texture and heartiness.
The “Sable” fish was a beautifully clean and simple dish. Authentic Korean fish broth with green onion, rice balls, and fennel.
To continue to end things on a light note, we had little ramekins of their “Green tea mousse”. It had a very strong green tea flavour, to match the stiffness of the dense mousse. A little bitter and not at all sweet, for those who prefer a more subtle dessert.
“Kosoo” also offers a pretty great lunch menu. A feast for two, with all the dishes and sides pictured above for $30 per person. Sadly I didn’t get to try it in its entirety, so won’t be able to write about it here. I guess that is as good of a reason as any to revisit.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Interesting plates with plenty of creativity to leave you learning of a new flavour combination. I recommend it for those who wanting to try something completely new and different. Don’t deny your cravings.