"Oh my god, I love meat."
I'm sure that at some point during our lunch, Kat, Anne Marie and I all uttered this sentence in between mouthfuls of thinly sliced marinated beef and rice.
Since neither Kat nor I had any idea where to eat, Anne Marie took us to Korean Grill House on Queen Street. I figure it's pretty popular since there are four other locations in Toronto, popularity that I assume is based on the provision of endless meat. The draw for us was their all-you-can-eat lunch special for about $10. You could find cheaper food elsewhere, but for all the raw meat (beef, chicken, pork, white fish and squid) you can cook, probably not.
Actually it's not just the raw meat that is continually replenished; you can keep the banchan a-coming if you want. Then again, you're better off saving your stomach space for the onslaught of meat.
After the banchan, rice and soup come the trays of meat. Many trays of meat, if you have three people in your group. I'll admit that it looks kind of nasty, as though we were being served fresh organs soaking in their own blood and surrounding fat stores (oh jebus, how the mouth waters), but it transforms into awesomeness after being subjected to direct heat. (Alex, you can deny this, but you might understand if you could just taste the beeeeeef.)
Anyone can grill Korean style, no matter how lacking your culinary prowess may be. Place your meats on the center grilling pit...
...And fire those babies until they turn from pink/red to brown/white/charred/whatever the color of tasty death is.
After an extended period of meat grill-age, the once shiny and silver grill develops a crusty black coating of carbon. Eh...yeah. You don't want your meat to taste like carbon. It's almost like a built-in timer to tell you when to stop eating, lest you want everything to taste like burning. We ended up going past this mark though; Kat asked for a few more trays of chicken and beef after I had decided that my stomach was near the gagging point. I don't really blame her considering how tasty it all was. However, you won't like it much if you're opposed to the slightly sweet and spicy marinade that most of the meat is soaked in.
We stopped into Silver Snail, a huge comic book + collectible figurines + other related stuff store. Anne Marie picked up a Tek Jensen comic book that was full of all kinds of strange humor and wrongness. Good stuff.
[HERE IS WHERE I RAMBLE ABOUT COMICS I LIKE: I don't read superhero-type comics (not that there's anything wrong with them; I just never felt the need to get into them), but I like the non-superhero types of comics. I used to read Bone when I was younger and I developed a fondness for Chris Ware in high school (SO DEPRESSING HE IS, which was perfect for me at the time). Derek Kirk Kim and Jason Shiga are also quite awesome, but my favorite comic book artist is Jhonen Vasquez (the creator of Invader Zim; surely you know it), primarily for his amazingly disturbed creations of Squee, Filler Bunny and Happy Noodle Boy. If you've read any of his stuff you know it's all so very messed up, beyond stupid, WTF-inducing and excessively gross, but man DOES HE BRING JOYS OF HAPPINESS TO MY EYES OR WUT?]
So those were most of my reading recommendations in one neat paragraph.
I guess it's easier for the Toronto subways to work more smoothly than the NYC subways since it's a smaller system, but barring Rome every other metro system in major cities that I've been on has felt cleaner and more efficient than NYC's. I do like the convenience of NYC subways (when they work and trains don't suddenly switch tracks for some ungodly reason), just not so much feeling like I'm standing in a fetid sewer while waiting for the next train to come and—if I'm waiting at a local stop—watching multiple express trains insultingly whiz by, making me feel like an abandoned, raggedy orphan being overlooked by potential guardians.
But maybe I'm too picky. It's not that bad.
I also prefer carrying a Metrocard as opposed to a wallet full of tiny dime-sized tokens. TOKENS. I remember using tokens in NYC; it actually wasn't very long ago, I suppose sometime during high school. But the tokens had nowhere else to go besides my wallet and it kinda sucks to have them mix in with all the other coins that I could buy stuff with. (If my complaining bothers you, I can stop. Yeah.)
But then there's that cleanliness thing. Toronto is quite clean. The cars also feel roomier an have more maps on display. Yeah, it's easier to display a map when the whole system consists of four lines, but I wish NYC subways had more line maps instead of advertisements shouting, "Todo por una Bud Light" at me. I kind of relied on those in Paris (I think you could always see a map no matter where you sat in the car); otherwise I would've been kinda screwed.
Enough complaining. In conclusion, I LIKE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION.
We headed up to the Bathurst station to visit Honest Ed's. I was interested in visiting this store created by philanthropist Ed Mirvish ever since I heard about its belly of lots and lots of stuff at low, low prices. If the ginormous sign was any indication, the inside was bound to be kind of...scary.
Indeed, it was somewhat overwhelming. Who needs windows when you can have mirrors that make you feel like you're trapped in a shimmering field of neverending kitchenware?
So much stuff.
Manatee wanted to climb into a pot. I SAID NO.
They have food in the lower level. Like JAM, as it says so in giant block letters on the column.
We semi-fled when we spotted an exit. Oh, fresh air, you've rarely tasted so sweet.
We walked westward through Koreatown. If I were hungrier (my stomach kind of died after the meat gorging thing) I would've totally gone for some kim bob and dumplings. I would LIVE in this store if given the choice. Two of my favorite foods in one spot? WHY OH WHY MUST YOU TAUNT ME?
We killed some time in a Korean supermarket called P.A.T. while waiting to be joined by Renée for an afternoon of walking and eating.
You may wonder what's wrong with me for being most intrigued by unlabeled bottles filled with an unidentifiable frozen blue substance out of all the things that could've possibly piqued my interest in the supermarket. Well, there's plenty wrong with me; this is the least of it. While I probably wouldn't go for a frozen light blue treat in an American supermarket, everything's up for grabs in an Asian supermarket. Not just Asian, but any foreign supermarket is pretty much open to my stomach. Why do I let down all nutritional guards in the face of foreign food, which may arguably be under looser regulations than American food?
Cos....cos I'm curious. And I'm not dead yet. OOH, FOREIGN STUFF, SO EXOTIC! [wiggles fingers in the air]
Unfortunately, this was made of wrong. Or it was made for elementary schoolers. Who else would want baby blue slush that tastes like BUBBLE GUM? Yes, bubble guuuum. Or some other sugary substance that has a more distinct taste than that of pure sugar. Bubble gum is one of those favors that I think should only be restricted to the candy itself. I once had bubble gum flavored ice cream (or cotton candy...something pink and sugar that mysteriously translated into a light blue substance in frozen form). It was gross.
I washed away the taste of the blue goop with black sesame flavored soy milk. The same exact black sesame favored soy milk that I drank in Paris last fall. Maybe some day I will drink it in Korea. Then the circle would be complete.
[This entry is far too long. It shall be CONTINUED...in the following entry.]
P.A.T. Central Market
675 Bloor St. West, Toronto