You get the best of both worlds at DOMA: Experience elevated Korean food with French influences and techniques, and decide how you want to dine tonight – order one of everything on the 9-course tasting menu ($65/pp, including amuse bouche and two desserts), or dine à la carte (dishes individually priced and range roughly from $10 to $28 each).
Owner and Chef Paul Kim, 31, is Korean and learned French cuisine and techniques at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. 10 years ago he came back to Toronto cooking traditional French cuisine at Provence Delices in Cabbagetown and at a King West restaurant, both which have since closed. Stages at Buca and Nota Bene followed. After cooking school, “I dreamed of having my own restaurants,” he says.
His quest? “To try to find unique flavours and combinations. It’s quite interesting. The flavours of French and Korean don’t go so well together: butter and Gochujang, for example. It was a challenge.”
Everything is made from scratch using authentic Korean ingredients and fresh, local produce. And you’ll notice French sauces – beurre blanc, soubise – and methods (sous vide) throughout the menu, with modern, molecular-style plating.
The result is a fascinating and cleaver mash up, completely unlike anything else in the city.
Note: The menu (roughly two hours to complete) changes monthly on the first Tuesday of the month. Two to three popular dishes from the previous month are kept on, followed by chef’s new selections
While an impressive beer, cider and wine list await you, don’t miss out on the cocktails (all $13 ea.) created by mixologist Danielle Yoon.
The Old Boy for example, is made with soy sauce and rice vinegar (!) along with cucumber-infused Boodles Gin and daikon. You’ve never had anything like it. Other concoctions feature Asian ingredients including soju, sochu and Asian pear.
Fixtures & Fittings
Kim looked at over 40 spaces before settling on this one, though he says, “This was not ideal. It’s kind of hidden and not as busy as King Street.”
He’s clearly made it work.
The room is light and bright with a modern simplicity. He and freelance designer Jenna Dylan Lee outfitted the space.
The goal was to make it look clean and crisp and Scandinavian and “not make it too Korean.”
You can achieve this look with ease – the beautiful plateware isn’t from some expensive potter in San Fran, but instead from local CB2 store not far away and the padded cushions at the bar are from EQ3. The striking, impossibly skinny flatware, however, is from Korea.
Off the Menu
In Harmony ($13) Refreshing Campari, grapefruit, lime and sesame orgeat get a coz herb finish thanks to toasted rosemary.
The Antidote ($13) Bright, fragrant yuzu fruit delivers a tart and sourness, which when paired with a Johnnie Walker Red Label scotch wash and ginger and honey-yuzu marmalade, creates an alluring, bold cocktail.
Old Boy ($13) is complex and completely original, thanks to rice vinegar, soy and daikon, blended with cucumber-infused Boodles Gin.
Amouse Bouche – Crunchy crostiniis layered with tender duck and pork confit, just the slightest bit of fresh kimchi, a thin slice of poached Bosc pear, topped with a single microgreen. Delicate yet still decadent.
Spring Salad ($14) A simple and healthy interlude arrives via a of blend of spring greens, raw asparagus, carrot ribbons, mixed nuts, puffed grains, yuzu dressing and crumbled goat cheese.
Perilla Seed Gooksoo ($16) Thick, heavy and chewy Korean noodles are covered in perilla seed (Deulkkae-garu) cream, boasting a slight anise flavour. Set next to a pile of delicate ribbons of zucchini and nestled next to chiffoned raw perilla leaf, the plate is finished with a light dusting of Korean chili powder. One thing’s certain about this intriguing dish: all this perilla will have you running out to your local Korean grocer to stock up.
Grilled Octopus ($20) A menu staple since day one, Kim “didn’t know if Canadian people would like it.” The bestseller features sous vide octopus, lacquered with a sticky honey butter, complete with a strong, addictive wasabi heat. Artfully plated with sliced cabbage, konyak jelly, bell pepper, pear and seaweed –Korean mustard dressing, tiny stacks of pickled mustard seeds and a splatter of “granite” (cold pressed cucumber and watercress juice) add an alluring flare to the crunchy dish.
Crispy Chicken Thigh ($24) Juicy meat and the crispiest skin – this dish delivers the exact textures and flavours you want in chicken.
Set next to doenjang (fermented soybean paste) – chicken liver in little paste dollops that look like cement and are earthy and pungent – sauce soubise with mixed nuts, pan seared radish and sweet potato puree, there’s a lot going on. But perhaps the most fascinating is the grilled ginger endive, which coaxes out the sweetness, balancing the bitterness.
Uhsun Mandoo ($28) An outstanding Korean-style ravioli – thin packets filled with seafood – daily fish (seared sea bass) bay scallop, prawns and calamari – that are easily discernable despite being mixed together and stuffed into pasta. Prawns and small slices of fish are also set outside atop the ravioli, adding to the seafaring feel and taste. An onion puree, spring pea puree and soy chili beurre blanc completes the elegant, elevated dish.
Sticky Pork Ribs ($26) Thick and heavy, spicy and sticky pork ribs are set under a blanket of crispy gossamer rice paper alongside roasted potatoes, crisp rapini and mushroom medley, like a modern stew.
Mugwort and Banana ($10) Mugwort ice cream has been on every menu since opening, though it’s doubtful you’ve had it before. Similar to matcha in taste and colour, it’s served next to light-as-air squares of castella sponge cake (the only sweetness in the dish) with dollops of mascarpone, banana and mugwort sauce on top.
Rice Cake Rolled Ice Cream ($10) Like a giant sushi roll, pink mochi (coloured from beets) is stuffed with a condensed milk, nine grain and refreshing black tea ice cream filling, completed with a light sprinkling of puffed rice and soybean powder dust for added crunch.
The dining room accommodates 43 guests for dinner, with room for 20 on the patio.
At the Stove/Head Honcho: Paul Kim
FOH: Steve Yeo, Manager
Map it: 50 Clinton St. (at College)
Visiting Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 5:30 pm–10 pm
Phone it in: 416-551-1550
How Cool is This?! Kim plans on opening another restaurant – different concept – this year. Stay tuned.
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