Sunday, March 13, 2011

Modern Japanese/Korean Fare at KOKO! Share Bar

We were struggling where to have dinner on Saturday night on our way out from Holt on Bloor. First, I tried to make a last minute reservation at Sushi Couture for Omakase (no luck, need one day's advance notice); next, I tried Swish by Han, a Korean hot pot place near by, suggested by a friend....completely full. Finally, we decided to try One at the Hazelton. We've always wanted to go but never made it and partly wanted to save it for a special occasion. Well, we never made it there. As we were walking, I thought of KOKO Share Bar, which I had read about at some point, but I didn't know where it was...and right there, was the restaurant. We took a quick look at the menu and decided to give it a try.

KOKO Share Bar is a small restaurant, with only about 8-10 tables and one longer table for groups (fits only about 6). It is clean, simple and modern, but not pretentious. Our very personable waiter brought us our menus, gave us some time to look it over, and took us through some of the favourites by section - appetizers, mains, modern and traditional sushi. First, the cocktails were calling my name, some unique drinks mixed with soju. I had the honey ginseng martini - not for everyone but I like ginseng, and Tony had the citrus twist which was delicious in a very understated way - a drink that grows on you more and more one you could sip and drink all night!

We quickly made up our mind about dinner. We started with some modern sushi, the Maguro roll with yellowfin tuna and kimchee mayo. It came topped with okra and was delicious, not overly spicy or with too much mayo - simply delicious. We also had the butterfish sashimi, which was actually torched and served with ponzu, also quite good. For our mains,
Tony had the baked sea bass served with a sweet miso butter and king mushrooms. The fish was served whole and was baked with parchment paper just right, with the perfect firmness for the fish. A bowl of miso butter was served on the side to spread on the fish as you like. This was a nice healthy dish! I decided to have the spicy seafood boullaibaise hot pot.
I imagined some version of one of my favourite dishes, Korean tofu with seafood. The hot pot was a lovely modern version of what I was expecting, a spicy broth infused with seafood flavours and filled with black cod, prawns, scallops and mussels. It's not as spicy as you would get at a traditional Korean restaurant, but the milder taste combined with seafood flavour was just right for me. I slurped up the entire personal pot!

Around us, tables ordered the signature share dishes - you can choose between a Korean platter with pork belly, spicy chicken and Korean bbq or a Japanese platter with assorted sashimi, soft shell crab, and tempura. They looked plentiful and delicious, and with some friends, we'd love to try both out! Overall, we were happy to have stopped in KOKO Share Bar, we enjoyed the modern interpretations of traditional foods, done with respect to the clean, natural flavours of the food itself. The menu is diverse, a good place to visit whether you are normally adventurous or conservative with food -I'm sure you will find something to your liking.

KOKO! Share Bar
81 Yorkville Ave
(reservations available on OpenTable)