got back from ninth gate last night and i was not impressed. from what i've seen so far the posts on chowhound haven't been favourable to it, but i'd like to know if anyone has gone recently and is possibly interested in defending the place.
first off i have to admit that i was biased, i know how much korean food costs on the bloor strip and how they serve it. by the time our reservation hour rolled around i wasn't particularily excited to go to the place after scanning the menu online. it was short with all the perfunctory korean items.
the majority of our 6 top was late for our 8pm reservation and some were seated at the bar as they set our table. the place was fairly full of trend-erati with small pockets of empty chairs. the setting is a minimalist modern loft, which was admittedly quite nice.
all the servers there nearly made it a point to tell you that the restaurant has only been open 6 weeks and that they're fairly new to korean food but love what they've tried. i didn't try much of my friends' food so i can't vouch for all the items, but the general answer was a simple "good". started with chapchae (glass noodles with vegetables) - good sized portion with a nice flavour, sesame oil being the most powerful and an appropriate quantity of vegetables. the ojingo tigim (deep fried calamari) was several large pieces of squid in a thick and yellow batter, personally not very visually appealing to me.
for mains it was an assortment of LA kalbi, kalbijim, wang kalbi, and deungshim. the kalbijim was mine and i got it on a whim not really knowing what i was ordering. i got something that was essentially a braised huge short rib with braised turnips and carrot. the sweetness of this entire dish was unbelievable. it wasn't bad mind you, but i personally don't know how anyone could sit here and eat so much of this sweet meat. but this may have been what the vege condiments were for, mix the sweetness with the savory and there was a good balance. i did have issue with the condiments though because it was missing something, that something that all korean food is known for... kimchi! i always thought korean food had the option to add spice, maybe i'm wrong. on top of this the rice was a solid piece of starch and everything arrived lukewarm at best. i tried some of the deungshim, but i can't remember it... and the LA kalbi was a bit dried out and fairly immemorable as well.
we ordered dessert - mango ice cream and deep fried banana with mango ice cream. mango ice cream was your garden variety, but what confused me was that for the fried bananas the ice cream was sitting on a wheat cracker. redi-whip adorned all the plates but the saving grace was the banana itself, quite lovely with a nice light caramel sauce.
on the note of service.... it's incredibly friendly but still on the side of novice. they brought two of one app although we ordered only one and the extra showed up on our bill even though we sent it back. they offered to split the bill for us but then became confused by their own suggestion of how to do it. but throughout this they were absolutely eager to please and it was appreciated.
so for six people, shared apps, mains, shared desserts, and a couple of beers each it was $230 with tax and tip. more expensive than if i was in korea town, but not too bad. i personally wouldn't go again, but for a relatively unadventurous eater who's interested in trying korean, i'd send them there.