I mouthed the words TGIF as I strolled along Bloor Street bound for Toronto’s Korea Town. I had been meaning to check out Playa Cabana’s new Barrio Coreano concept for a while and couldn’t help but smirk when sitting across the table from Chad and Burger, a duo who perfectly encapsulate the restaurants Korean fusion philosophy.
I met Chad Burton shortly after I moved to South Korea in the Fall of 2007. Our friendship in Seoul featured late night hearty party and photo happy stints at Seoul Fashion Week. Chad’s love for fashion and design blossomed over the past few years as he worked as a model in Korea, launched a popular street style fashion blog, moved to London to work in the fashion editorial world and now finds himself offering his styling services across Toronto. Chad’s partner in crime Burger Kim is a creative Korean fellow who designs fantastical headpieces: think toy horse adorned helmet and bespoke Barbie necklace.
Ranked as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Toronto, Barrio Coreano offers a similar aesthetic to its Hacienda sister on Dupont but the menu offerings here have been tweaked to embrace the distinct Korean neighbourhood that it calls home: where kimchi and kalbi reign supreme. The kitchen focuses on producing a menu that pays homage to both Mexican and Korean flavours.
I thirst quenched a refreshing Kimchi Sour before moving on to a more stoic sipper, a Smoked Woodford Reserver Sour featuring smoked pig skin and sorano/poblano peppers. Fall-off-the-bone Korean Spare Ribs were followed by charred calamari sitting atop burnt arbol kimchi. We finished by celebrating our own taco time which featured kalbi beef, duck mole, chicken kampungki, spicy carnita and battered baja fish. As we pushed through a packed dining room and spilled out onto Bloor Street I couldn’t help but sigh, “ah the weekend!”
jack daniels, kimchi syrup, lime
Smoked Woodford Reserve Sour
woodford reserve, smoked pigs skin, sorano and poblano peppers
Korean Spare Ribs
Grilled Calamari with Burnt Arbol Kimchi
Kalbi Beef Taco
Duck Mole Taco
Chicken Kampungki Taco
Spicy Carnita Taco
Baja Fish Taco