After a bad first impression, Jimmy and I came to love Arisu, located on Division and Queen.
We started with an ice-cold Sapporo beer. It’s a Japanese beer, but its light, clean flavour pairs wonderfully with Korean food. Just make sure that you finish it before it gets warm. This beer becomes completely undrinkable when it’s room temperature.
Shortly after the beer arrived, we received our assortment of complimentary banchan (Korean side dishes). The kimchi in the foreground was clearly made that day. It wasn’t fermented, so it tasted more like a napa cabbage salad with red pepper paste. Jimmy was disappointed since he favours Arisu’s kimchi over the rest of Kingston’s offerings. The seasoned zucchini was light and tasty. It contrasted the kimchi in flavour and texture. I loved the potato salad dish with its barely cooked potato in a sesame dressing. I am a fan of sesame oil, so this played right into my palate. I asked for another refill of this.
Jimmy ordered yukae jang, a spicy beef brisket stew containing vermicelli and a barely cooked egg. It was deeply flavoured with beef and onions, though spicier than I normally eat it. I could only eat a few bites before giving up.
The bibimbap was very refreshing. The ingredients (bean sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce, daikon, zucchini, and a fried egg) were incredibly fresh. The vegetables were laid out in a separate bowl, with a small bowl of rice on the side. I liked their bibimbap sauce, but I found it a little sweeter than I like. This was probably influenced by the fact that I was eating a lot of huedupbap with its vinegary sauce prior to this outing. I didn’t bother to take a picture of everything mixed together because it would have looked like a big, red mess.
I was feeling a little hungrier that night and ordered a maki. I can’t remember the name (French Kiss maybe… it was something unusual). It had avocado and shrimp tempura inside, covered with slices of smoked salmon. The soy sauce drizzled on top made it quite a salty roll. It wasn’t horrible, but the flavours didn’t do much for me. It was just a “meh” roll.
Altogether, the dinner cost less than $50, and we left with full bellies. The only thing that really needs work is the service. It took forever for our food to arrive, and we watched more than one table receive their food before us even though they arrived nearly 20 minutes after us. Still, the food is consistent and reasonably priced. I think this restaurant will be around for a while.