You don’t have to pay for a ticket to Korea to sample some of the nation’s most popular dishes. In fact, for authentic Korean food in Montreal, you won’t have to spend much at all.
Only open now for a few months, family-owned restaurant TOWA treats customers to Korean and Japanese cuisine in a relaxed, down-to-earth atmosphere.
The décor is a study in contrasts: the pale walls set off the dark tables and wall decorations, with a few festive touches of colour coming from the hanging paper umbrellas.
My dining partners and I sat down and looked over the menu while hot tea was brought to our table in mugs. We flipped the pages for a little while, and even sent the waiter back a few times. Narrowing down the choices was going to be problem. A variety of appetizers, cooked meals, grilled meals, rice dishes, noodle dishes tantalized us with their promise of fine flavours.
In the end, we chose two types of meals and promised to pick off of each other’s plates. Since each meal includes salad and soup, we decided to skip the appetizers except for an entrée of eel sushi, which was fantastic. Requiring more eel, I ordered the jang a donburi (grilled eel on rice) while my partners ordered the bul go gi (marinated beef), dak bul go gi (spicy marinated chicken) and the hwe donburi (raw fish and vegetables on rice).
The portions were quite large – I couldn’t finish my entire meal – and the flavours were simply superb.
The initial salad wasn’t anything special, but the miso soup was prepared expertly.
The grilled eel was simply phenomenal and the bul go gi dishes tickled the taste buds with their subtle mix of sweet and rich flavors. The hwe donburi came with a nice spicy sauce to really give a kick to the shredded raw fish’s freshness. All of this was, of course, accompanied by what was the best kimchi I had eaten in a long time.
We practically had to roll ourselves out of the restaurant, and that’s really quite nice for $10 – 13 per person. During the week, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., they have lunch specials ranging from $6 – 12.
At those prices and for the quality of the flavours we received, you can be certain to spot me there again for lunch.
1832 Ste-Catherine West
Rating: 3.5 out of 5