SWISH BY HAN: Rimmed out by Han

647-343-0268    |    $7 -$30 Dishes

 

Have walked by this place a few times and thought the menu looked pretty encouraging. I have yet to go for Korean downtown outside of some of the chains, so I was excited about this spot.

Food

The menu is split into dishes (sharing plates), and different ‘sets’ that either come cooked (ssam) or are self-prepared on a table top BBQ or hotpot style (swish). We tried a variety of starters, so I’ll do a quick run-down on them followed by the swish.


Photo Credit: Swish by Han website

First thing to come out was the pork neck tacos (above). Two little ones for $10 wasn’t exactly great value, but they tasted good enough. The kimchi flavour you’d expect, don’t know that pork ‘neck’ really mattered much. Very saucy, which may or may not be good depending on your preference.


Photo Credit: Swish by Han website

Next were the Kimchi’d pears with stilton cheese (above). This was the best thing I tasted of the night. Ordered it because it sounded different, but it was was fresh, barely sweet, a little spicey, and the cheese gave it richness to balance everything. I’ll definitely attempt to replicate this at home.

We also tried the spicey pork buns, which were like the onion buns you find in sandwich shops or grocery stores, but the pork was flavourful and not very spicy. Tried some potstickers as well, but probably would have preferred something crispier. Nothing ‘wrong’ with them though.

We finished out the meal with the beef swish, essentially boiling our own vegetables, noodles, and beef in the pot. While fun, I don’t think the broth added very much, there was no twist or upscale tweak, and generally I don’t think it was worth the $25 price tag. 

Wanted to finish off the meal with some bingsu, a Korean shaved ice dessert topped with red bean & ice cream, but they stopped serving it…months ago. The only available dessert was a special and it too was sold out (likely because it was the only dessert option). I’m cool with things running short - it happens - but to keep items on your paper non-laminated menu for months after you stop serving is just lazy. For a ‘nicer’ restaurant, I can’t get around that.

Service and Ambience

I thought service was OK, not particularly friendly or warm. One of our orders didn’t make it out until much later when we reminded our server we’d ordered it (kitchen mix-up I suppose). 


Photo Credit: Swish by Han website

I quite like the design of the place though. Tons of exposed brick, a couple chandeliers for contrast, big abstract wall-paintings and big windows. It’s a good look. What I didn’t like was the music volume. I love A Tribe Called Quest, and I love that they were playing it, but people across the table could barely hear me. 

The Reco?

I think there were some successful dishes and I wouldn’t be totally against returning, but some things didn’t click. Paying $25 for the swish didn’t sit right with me, the service wasn’t stellar and the dessert menu thing makes no sense. Personally, I just didn’t have a great experience overall.

Other reviews:
 blogTO      |     Toronto Star    |     Toronto Life

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Dec 7, 2011

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ETSU: Best sushi on Baldwin

416-599-4200    |    45 Baldwin St.

No website that I can find for menu details and haven’t sampled anything other than the sushi here (well, unless sake counts) so I’ll go with a mini review here.

Food

I’ve had a bunch of sushi at this spot before and always come away very happy with the value here. It’s not super cheap, but very reasonable for above average Japanese and Korean. I’ve heard good things about the Korean dishes, but since all I’ve had is the sushi, I’ll focus on the three rolls we sampled today.

The two featured above are the caterpillar (no need to point it out) and Rick’s Roll. These are two favourites on the special roll menu. Each is around $10, quite big, and are delicious. The caterpillar has BBQ eel (unagi) inside with creamy avocado layered on top with some garnish and sauce to make it look like it’s animal relative. Could use more eel given the size.

The Rick’s Roll has - I’m probably gonna mess this up since there’s no website to double check - tempura shrimp, softchell crab, and tobiko with a variety of toppings and a distinct ginger finish. This was the table favourite. Had the spider roll as well, but that fell a little flat.

Of course, topped it off with an 8oz bottle of sake between the three of us for really cheap as well.

Service and Ambience

Warm and pleasant servers with frequent refills of the tea/water always appreciated. Also spoke to the owner as we were heading out and he let us know there’d be a new Taylor roll (his name’s Taylor) with different preparations of prawn. Good to know. 

The inside is long and narrow but the tables are very spacious and the chairs are quite comfortable. Also large prints of Taylor’s unique photography grace the walls and add some quirky character to the joint.

The Reco?

Easily the best place on Baldwin for sushi and probably the best in the general area before you hit Chinatown. Will continue to come back here for sushi lunch and recommend the same to you should you be in the area. Cheers.

Other reviews:
 blogTO  |     Toronto Life    |   Sushi Toronto

 Posted by: Jacob, Visited Nov 23, 2011

Etsu Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon