If there’s one bowl that signals comfort food, it’s the hot stone bowls at Ka Chi (612 Bloor St. West). The Korea Town institution is always filled with deep black bowls set infront of families, students and friends in search of a good meal that won’t break the bank. One of the dishes that makes me smile is the Hot Stone Pot Bibimbap with Bulgogi and Fried Egg ($8.95). Mix and mash the contents together with a generous squeeze of Sirachi sauce, and on a cold winter night it’ll easily provide stomach insulation for two.
The restaurant is extremely casual and relaxed and follows the tradition of many Korean restaurants: self-serve table setting.
Meals begin with four small pan chan dishes, which change daily.
Ka Chi’s most famous hot stone bowl is piled high with Kam Ja Tang aka Pork Bone Stew ($6.95). This can be requested not spicy, mild, spicy and extra spicy. You can also order it in combination with a beverage, such as $10.50 with a domestic beer. The stew includes several pieces of tantalizing pork with fall-off-the-bone meat, boiled potatoes and sprouts. While it can be a bit of elbow work to make sure you get every morsel of pork, the rewards – eaten with the side of rice — will satisfy any belly.
My preferred bowl is teeming with Soft Tofu Stew with Pork and Vegetables ($7.50). I just love the smoothness of the tofu, mixed with an egg, along with bites of meat and watercress. I pile several spoonfuls on my rice and dig right in. Much like the other bowls, if I follow appropropriate portion control, I can take half for a packed lunch I’ll be anticipating until the next day.
On my most recent visit to Ka Chi, I noticed many tables ordered the Stir Fry Spicy Noodle ($6.95). We decided to step outside the realm of hot stone bowls and were surprised to find out how tasty boring packaged ramen can become when accompanied by sliced rice cake, fish cake and vegetables. The spicy sauce was extremely flavourful and made me covet more than my share of noodles.
Whether your meal comes in a hot stone bowl or on a white plate, as long as you’re at Ka Chi, there’s no such thing as a bad dish.
Ka Chi / 612 Bloor St. West, Toronto
416 533 9306 / Mon-Sun 10:30am-11pm