And I admit it; it's true.
In my defense, without the presence of standards, expectations, and comparisons, improvements would never be witnessed. Things would remain identical for eternity, ceasing efficiency in all its forms.
"North York? It's my 'hood." I once responded to an acquaintance.
"No, I'm pretty sure it's mine." The Thornhill native proceeded to list several establishments, all of which I admitted to have dropped by with the exception of Cho Sun Ok, a Korean franchise.
"...it is your hood." She eventually acknowledged, a little taken back.
Hub Sushi, Soohyang, The Cups, and Love Me Sweet are a mere quartet of the eateries beknownst to me in the Viva-accessible region. A small spot on Centre Street/Thornhill Summit Drive recently piqued my interest: The Guksu and Noodle, an authentic Korean spot serving both hot and cold noodles in a humble plaza.
Within the vicinity was Starbucks, a local fashion boutique, and a handful of other businesses; all were accessible from a tiny parking lot facing the hustle and bustle of Yonge Street. Should the meager number of spots be filled, a spacious, unpaved (read: dusty) lot could be found towards the back entrances. The interior pathways weren't exactly safe to manouever between, as haphazardly stopped cars and incompetent aligning skills contributed to quite the hazards. Nonetheless, it was a spot that was complimentary and secure.
Inside was a small waiting area and two levels of dining space, each enveloped in a yellow-tinted mahogany furnishings and the occasional accent of artificial greenery. The floors were separated by a short staircase. Seating was roomy, albeit the minimal proximity between tables/booths. Spot lights and partially-enclosed spiral bulbs cast orange glares on the lacquered surfaces below.
The Guksu and Noodle is a relatively recent addition to the area, however its menu showed signs of extreme wear. I suppose the rips and faded edges were a proper indication of their popularity; the neighbouring tables comprised primarily of those that spoke Korean - a sign I considered reflective of the restaurant's authenticity.
I was captivated by the colours of the Fruit Bibim Guksu, though we also ordered a Gogi Guksu to try their dishes at two varying temperatures.
Despite the saltiness of the kimchi, I rather enjoyed the fact that it wasn't as spicy as other establishments. The inclusion of leafy greens in addition to the standard napa cabbage chunks was greatly appreciated.
Individual mounds of sweet butternut squash was served alongside a teaspoon of ginger jelly. A calming sensation was perceived as I, ever so insensibly, dug into the chilled mashed root vegetable with chopsticks, forgoing the tiny spoon wrapped alongside the provided utensil set. The ginger jelly possessed nearly unnoticeable flavour, though the texture complimented the smoothness of the purée.
A vast variety of fresh seasonal fruit were arranged atop the sweet-spicy creation. Uniform slices of red apple, tart kiwi, juicy orange segments, and succulent mango were arranged around the pile of thin, white noodles. Healthy additions of unseasoned lettuce and tomato provided bursts of hydration; crunchy cucumber slivers, red radish slices, and a generous ladle of chunky red sauce completed the entrée with sharp punches of flavour.
In short, I really enjoyed the dish. Its refreshing properties rendered it an ideal summer lunch item, and the sweet-spicy sauce packed just enough zing to enhance cohesion between the noodles and fruit slices. Healthy fusion at best, it's not difficult to see why No. 12 is one of the most frequently requested menu pick.
The steamy bowl utilized the same noodles as the Fruit Bibim Guksu, though the simmering broth and four slices of lean yet tender pork provided an entirely different experience. It was essentially comfort food, perhaps with a tad more MSG than preferred though.
While I have no complaints regarding the quality of dishes, I did find that synthetic flavour additions were severely strong. The meal left me dehydrated for hours afterwards, and not even chugging cups upon cups of iced coffee/tea/water aided in too much relief. The sweet-spicy sauce also caused a fiery, somewhat garlicy feeling to linger in the cavity of my mouth for a short while. A bottle of mouthwash in the two-stall bathroom would have been greatly appreciated.