Unbrave Eats: Battle Kimchi at Yakitori Bar in Toronto

February 27, 2013


When my friend, Pam, first told me that she’d signed us up to attend something called Battle Kimchi at Yakitori Bar, one of her favorite haunts in Toronto, this past weekend, I imagined us being surrounded by lots of hot, hunky, Korean chefs.

Not that this is anything new.

I like to imagine myself being surrounded by lots of hot, hunky, Korean chefs on a regular basis.

Because, I mean, come on, guys.


Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by that?

Notice the hunk is in a white shirt. I'm pretty sure that means he's a chef.

I think this guy is a chef. Notice the white shirt. And the girl swooning in his arms.

However, this was the first time I had an opportunity to make my dream become a reality.

Well, other than that time I went to Korea.

But when I was in Korea, I was too busy shoving all the food into my face to check out any of the hot dudes who were cooking it up for me. Because, seriously, you guys, they give you a LOT of food in Korea. Your typical meal consists of, like, ten to eleventy billion dishes. And each dish is totally amazing.

A typical Korean meal for one. I'm pretty sure this was the "dainty eater" size.

A typical Korean meal for one. How I managed to leave that country still wearing pants is beyond me.

These are the kind of meals you need to concentrate all your energy on. No multi-tasking or mooning over the cook allowed!

Before heading over to Yakitori Bar for the battle (or “My Meet-Cute With My Future Husband,” as I had started to refer to it), Pam and I stopped by a bar called Sin & Redemption for a few drinks.


Which, you have to admit, is pretty much the best name for a bar ever.

Okay, so maybe a better name for a bar might be: Free Beer & Have You Lost Weight?

But Sin & Redemption is pretty up there with epic bar names.

They had this beer there that tasted exactly like grapefruit juice. I’m pretty sure it was some kind of smoothie. Which meant I didn’t have to feel so bad about getting my drink on at noon.

Not that I’d ever feel bad about that kind of thing.

But still.

My grapefruity beer.

My grapefruity beer. It’s what’s for lunch.

We also met up with two of Pam’s friends, Tammy and Alicia, who were  joining us at Battle Kimchi. Because, you know, you can never have too many wing women.

And when going to something with the word “battle” in the name, it’s a good idea to roll four deep.

Getting ready to hit on some chefs with Pam, Alicia & Tammy. (Okay, so this was totally later in the day. But I was too busy drinking earlier to take photos.)

Getting ready to hit on some chefs with the ladies. (Okay, so this was totally later in the day. But I was too busy drinking earlier to take photos.)

When we arrived at the scheduled smackdown, things were just getting underway.

The chefs were starting to take their places around the restaurant. Each chef was serving their own raw kimchi as well as a unique dish that used kimchi as one of the ingredients.

Next to each chef’s station were ballot cards where you could vote on the dishes.

I don't see any place where I get to rate the hunkiness of the chef.

Huh. Where do I get to rate the hunkiness of the chef?

To me, this seemed like a surprisingly democratic and not so battley way of determining the winner. I was imagining something more along the lines of shirtless wrestling. Of course, in my imagination all the contestants looked like Daniel Henney. And they’d all be wrestling with me.

While we waited for the food to be ready, we moseyed up to the bar and ordered something called white sake sangria. Our drinks were topped off with floating berries. So, again, totally a smoothie.

White sake sangria. It's what's for... what meal are we on now?

White sake sangria. It’s what’s for… what meal are we on now?

And then we descended upon the kimchi and all its marvelous incarnations.

There was everything from kimchi crostini to kimchi bacon bibimbap.

Hello, there, lover.

Bacon? And bibimbap? And kimchi? Together? YES, PLEASE.

There was even kimchi poutine. I mean, we were in Canada after all. I think it’s some kind of legal requirement that every restaurant has to serve poutine in Canada.

Or, at least, it really should be.


Kimchi poutine. Hello, there, lover.

Kimchi poutine. Hello, there, lover.

As I was a little busy stuffing my face full of booze and kimchi and gravy-covered fries, it took me a while to notice that there wasn’t a single hot, hunky Korean chef in the entire place. At least not any hot, hunky Korean chefs of the male variety.

If the demographics of the kimchi chefs in attendance were any indicator, kimchi-making is typically a lady affair.

One of the lovely kimchi-making ladies. I wonder if she has a single brother?

One of the lovely kimchi-making lady chefs. I wonder if she has a single brother?

I guess it’s kind of like the Korean version of making jam. Except this jam could put some serious hair on your chest.

I was a little bit heartbroken that I wouldn’t be meeting my future husband in this crowd.

Luckily, that kind of heartbreak is easily cured.

With gravy, of course.

If you could go to a food smackdown, what kind of food would you want the chefs to be battling it out over? And would there be any wrestling involved? Preferably with shirtless, Daniel-Henney-lookalikes?
P.S. I know I just bugged you about this on Sunday, but my blog has  been nominated for a Bloggie for the Best Travel Weblog. Yes, MY blog. The one about unicorns and cheese and my couch. I don’t get it either, but wouldn’t it be awesome if I won? Please help me make that happen by heading over to the Bloggies site and voting for me. Voting is super easy and will earn you my undying love and devotion. And, quite possibly, a pony.

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On February 27, 2013 at 8:21 am cosmoHalllitan said:

    Sounds like a fun night! I’m taking my first trip to Seoul soon and can’t wait to stuff my face with kimchi and other Korean deliciousness! If I come across any hot chefs, I’ll give them your info.
    cosmoHalllitan recently posted..Spending a Day in Siem Reap, Cambodia

    • On February 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm Sally said:

      Ooo, have fun in Seoul! I’ve been to the city twice and had so much fun there. I definitely need to go back! Especially if you find me my husband while you’re there!

  2. On February 27, 2013 at 8:49 am Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) said:

    I don’t even like kimchi (sacrilege, I know!) but this all looks amazing! And grapefruit beer? Sign me up! (Does it fight calories too?!?)
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Everything You Ever Wanted to Know (& More!) About: CHINA

    • On February 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm Sally said:

      Yes. I’m pretty sure the grapefruit beer is a diet drink.
      And, as for kimchi, I’d try different kinds before you give up on it completely. I was kind of amazed at how the different kimchis that were being served up by the different chefs tasted totally different. There was even one that tasted exactly like Buffalo wings. I kid you not. It was weird. And delicious.

  3. On February 27, 2013 at 8:51 am Pamela said:

    Yay! I’m so glad you had fun in Toronto. It was awesome to see you again! I’m thinking of you as I relish in the sun 😉
    Pamela recently posted..My Passport Smells Like Margaritas

    • On February 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm Sally said:

      I was so happy I got to see you before you left… and before you got all annoying by rubbing the whole sun/tacos/margaritas-in-the-airport thing in my face! 🙂

  4. On February 27, 2013 at 10:11 am Carmel said:

    Do you really want hot Korean chefs around while you stuff your face with kimchi and bacon? Probably not. But thank you for introducing me to this Daniel Henney. Yowza.

    All I can think about right is kimchi, so I can’t decide what kind of food smackdown I’d like. I’ll take it all!

    • On February 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm Tammy said:

      I have to totally agree. If any chef there looked even remotely like Daniel Henney (thanks for the introduction, by the way, helloooo), I’d be too self-conscious to gorge myself on bacon and cheese kimchi.

      Also, I love ya, Sally, but if any chef looked like that, the wrestling smackdown may have been between me and you. Well, until I’d be distracted by the bacon and cheese. Then the smackdown would be between my stomach and my lust, and that would have just been a bad scene.
      Tammy recently posted..Throwing down the kimchi in Toronto

      • On February 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm Sally said:

        Whatever. I can take ya. I mean, did you see the way I cut ahead of all those food bloggers to get my third helping of kimchi poutine? I’m a fighter, lady!
        But I do have to agree that maybe it was for the best that we didn’t run into my future husband that night. I doubt I look all too fetching shoving gravy fries into my face. But, then again, if he loves me, he’ll love me just the way I am — gravy face and all!

    • On February 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm Sally said:

      Yes, ALL THE FOOD SMACKDOWN. I want that, too!

  5. On February 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm Edna said:

    I can’t…I just can’t. Oh I miss kimchi. (and I agree, how fine is Daniel Henney??)
    Edna recently posted..Who are you? (A reader giveaway)

    • On February 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm Sally said:

      Is there no kimchi in France, Edna? Alas. At least you can always console yourself with cheese! And Youtube videos of Daniel Henney (May I suggest the commercial he did with Gwyneth Paltrow? He’s totally adorable in that one. Not that I spent an hour watching that on repeat or anything… ahem.)

  6. On February 27, 2013 at 10:29 pm Ross said:

    I am so jealous. That looks like so much fun. I would love Battle Kimchi. I just eat kimchi out of the jar which is good but with gravy, cheese and fries! I’ve got to get more creative.
    Ross recently posted..Western Australian Plants

  7. On February 28, 2013 at 12:57 am Priya said:

    Ive never had Korean food, mainly b/c I’m a picky eater, but I’m getting better at it. I think Unbravegirl Eats needs to come to Chicago to teach me a thing or two. Or I can teach her how to eat cheese. Oh, wait, I think she already knows how to do that…
    Priya recently posted..Five Things I Kind Of, Sort Of Like About My Current Really Long Commute

  8. On March 1, 2013 at 3:53 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Wait…kimchi and poutine…and kimchi bacon bibimbap? THIS SOUNDS AMAZING. Especially since today is my last full day in Korea and I’ll no doubt shortly be going through kimchi withdrawal.

    Also you totally need to open a bar called Free Beer & Have You Lost Weight? Maybe in your barn? With your cat as a bartender? And Daniel Henney?
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Korean Sashimi: Doing It Raw

  9. On March 1, 2013 at 6:10 am Peter Lee said:

    All this stuff is mouth watering. I would like to taste grape fruity beer. How it was?

  10. On March 3, 2013 at 11:01 am Maria said:

    Kimchi tasting – fabulous idea!
    Looking forward to the bout btwn you and Tammy – you kids crack me up!

  11. On March 6, 2013 at 12:09 am Ceri said:

    I think the main reason I want to go to Canada is to try Poutine. Seriously.
    Ceri recently posted..Scenes from the Museo de Arte Moderno

  12. On March 14, 2013 at 1:53 am Shivangi said:

    Kimchi and Poutine….love ’em both, never really thought of putting ’em together. Agent Zero style !! Daniel Henney……sigh !


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