Was down around Front & Church last night and JKWB was too packed but the SO and I were starving....so walked around and wandered into Ninth Gate Korean Bistro on Front & Jarvis. I don't normally like Korean that much, but we hadn't had it in a while so....
The restaurant is in a loft-like spare space, tastefully-decorated in a minimalist style with an Asian bent. What's really nice is that the restaurant in on a corner with floor to ceiling windows, contributing to the airiness of the space. Service was prompt, friendly and attentive, understandably so since they've just been open under 2 weeks so everyone was clearly aiming to please.
As soon as we were seated, we were provided with what I guess you could equate to a Korean style of amuse-bouche - a pretty rectangular plate with 3 sections, containing kimchi, sesame flavoured seaweed, and pickled radish or daikon (?). All were quite nice.
They didn't have their liquor license yet, but the ginger tea we ordered hit the spot on a cold chilly night. It was fragrant and redolent of sweet spice, filled with fresh, slivers of real ginger that were steeping in the hot water.
Since we hadn't eaten Korean in a while, we just ordered standard fare, nothing out of the ordinary. For starters, the SO ordered L.A.style Beef Kalbi and I had Chapchae. The kalbi beef came in 3 small pieces, but were nicely browned, well-seasoned, and tender. I really enjoyed the chapchae (and SO agreed, this is usually his favourite) - it was made with thicker clear noodles seasoned with sesame oil and speckled with sauteed red and green peppers, providing many contrasts in flavour and texture. I finished every last morsel.
For mains, the SO ordered squid with spicy red pepper sauce and vegetables with rice and I ordered BibimBop Dolsat with Brown Rice (a substitute option for an extra $1). SO's squid arrived first, and then came my Bibimbop, sizzling in its hot stone bowl....but with white rice. I alerted the hostess (or owner, I can't be sure) and she was immediatedly apologetic (as was our waitress) and took it back to the kitchen to get it corrected. I normally wouldn't really care, but was really in the mood for something a little more 'healthy', hence my substitution. The hostess brought a complimentary appetizer of fried dumplings as I was waiting, which we hungrily dug into. The meat and vegetable-filled dumplings were nothing extraordinary, but they tasted good, and hey, they were free!
SO liked his squid, and while waiting, I also tried a few bites. I was not overly impressed - the sauteed veggies tasted fresh, and the squid was okay, but it seemed like the majority of the flavour came from the red pepper chili sauce (the korean kind that has a sort of bean-y flavour). My Bibimbop was also accompanied with this sauce, which was a nice compliment to the other elements of the dish. It was done a little differently than I've gotten it before: the mix of ingredients (beef, cooked egg, carrot, turnip/daikon, shitake mushrooms, spinach/some other greens couldn't quite tell) were cut into slivers and assembled prettily atop the rice on the bottom. It was pretty good, and tasted quite healthy with the diversity of ingredients, and the bottom layer of heat-crackled rice provided the crunch I love about this dish.
Nothing spectacular, but all-in-all a nice meal in pretty surroundings that included 2 non-alcoholic drinks, 2 appetizers (not including the complimentary one), and 2 mains for only $50 (tax and tip included)!
Anyone else been here or have any thoughts on this place?