Address: 6309 Yonge St, North York, ON M2M 3X7
Phone: (416) 229-6248
This restaurant literally has no English name, but oddly enough it has a Chinese description. Finding this restaurant was literally a confusion for me. I only heard of their famous ginseng chicken pot and I did major research to locate the “name” and location of the Korean restaurant. I also had to track it down with street view of google maps.
The English pronunciation of the restaurant name was found on the menu cover. Ap-Ku-Jung! I shall remember it from now on. Also, thank beans for a rainbow coloured sign, for easy recognition.
I was surprised by how busy it was on a weekday when I stepped in. All tables and rooms were filled. It had a weird atmosphere because everyone were sort of staring at one another, despite not knowing each other. They looked at what you ate, your attire for some form of cultural recognition. They ultimately were curious about the language one another spoke to see if you are Korean or not. Everyone were nosy, including me, but whatever!
There is no decor to even comment on. It was extremely decorated to the simplest it can be. They picked the flimsiest looking table and chairs which resembles the food court of a mall. It was just plain ugly, especially with exposed troughs and airways. The surfaces were sticky from the oil odor and aroma, scrubbing is required. Clearly, the focus is put on the food.
The female servers were not that fluent in English but they tried their best to explain to us what the food was and how it was made. They worked hard for every table because they pretty much cook and grilled everything for you on the spot.
The side dishes were kimchi, pickled cucumbers, tofu skin, kelp, sweetened potatoes and pan seared tofu. These side dishes are subject to change everyday, except the usual kimchi. I love eating Korean side dishes because they come in small portions and offers a variety of healthy vegetables seasoned with different condiments or prepared in different techniques. Flavours vary too, from sweet to salty to spicy. It balances the flavours happening in your mouth.
Steamed Freshwater Snail AKA CONCH MEAT ($19.95) came in a BIG portion. This was honestly more than what we expected. Much appreciated for de-shelling the meat for us. The conch meat was extremely fresh and cooked for the right amount of time, where it was soft and chewy. If overcooked, the conch meat will appear a darker yellow, close to gray tone and smaller in size. Plus, it will also have an eraser like texture. Each individual conch meat was big, like the size of a thumb. The dish was served with two dipping sauces – a red mild fermented bean paste and the typical Asian sweet sauce. I liked the red one better because it added dimension to the overall flavour, like adding something to the natural sea tastes. However, I personally thought the conch tasted amazing just the way it was, without any additives, just pure natural.
We also ordered a Ginseng Chicken Soup Pot ($25.95) is a 2 person portion meal. Noodles is served and congee is made out of the broth, as I will further explain.
Our server comes with a big pot with a whole chicken covered in broth filled with a couple pieces of ginseng and red dates. This soup is exceptionally healthy because it strengthens immune system, energizes or renews our body, last but not least, assists in red blood cells production. This is a famous stew or soup Koreans eat occasionally.
We wait for the broth to boil, approximately ten minutes and for the chicken to cook further, additional five minutes. I believe this process is necessary to get the flavours of the ginseng pieces to come out also. You get excited from all the action that is happening in the pot and just simply cannot wait to start eating. I confess, i was picking at the chicken here and there. The wait was just a nuisance. But after it was done, the server came back and used a pair of scissors to cut open the chicken, which apparently was stuffed with sticky rice. She halved the chicken, then quartered it. She gave us each a piece of the quarter chicken to begin. The chicken was fresh and soft. I easily picked the strands of meat off the bones and the chicken was very chunky or meaty.
*Do not waste the heat of the broth. Dunk the conch meat into it for additional flavours.
The server came back after we finished our individual quarter piece chicken, with a plate of fresh handmade green tea noodles. You know it was fresh when the noodles were soft at the touch, warm and had uneven lengths or widths. She threw it into the pot of boiling broth, and added a bit more water, since, the broth evaporated into the atmosphere when not covered, lowering liquid levels. We waited approximately for five to eight minutes for the noodles to cook before the waitress filled our bowls with noodles and ginseng soup. At this time, the soup had thickened slightly and became more oily. The noodles were al dente, but you do not taste a strong green tea flavour, tasted like any type of noodles. The soup also did not have a strong ginseng aroma either, despite being boiled for the past twenty minutes. With no doubt though, the meal was great up to now.
By the time we finished the noodles, we were stuffed and could barely eat more. Our waitress came with a bowl of rice and stirred it into the pot of remaining soup. She walked away and let it sit there for five minutes, to let the rice absorb the water and soften up. Then returned to stir the rice for more water absorption and used the ladle to mush or breakdown all the remaining ingredients until it was all integrated together to become a congee or porridge paste like formation. This was my favourite part of the entire meal. The congee had an amazing soft but sticky texture. It absorbed all the ginseng flavours, where it was slightly bitter, and also the chicken essence, which balanced the bitterness, hence, not overpowering one another. In the congee, you can eat the individual bits of the broken down red dates, ginseng pieces and lose strands of chicken. This congee was very aromatic and rich.
We wobbled out the door and carried our bloated bellies with us back home. This was an extremely satisfying or rewarding meal that I will return for again. But next time, I am not ordering the conch meat because it was unnecessary! I also want to try their grilled items because everyone around us were ordering it and looked awesome too, with many sides and ways of eating. I highly recommend the restaurant!