Swish by Han (Toronto)

Korean dining in the downtown core

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 38 Wellington Street East    
Website: swishbyhan.wordpress.com/
Type of Meal: Dinner

Swish by Han has a deceiving name, you may think the restaurant is German or Austrian, but in reality, is a Korean tapas restaurant.  The price points are much higher than most Korean restaurants, but most of the food is prepared to a higher caliber.  I stress the word most because not everything is better and perhaps not better for restaurants that are “known” for a particular dish, but on an overall basis is better than most. 

During this visit, we started with the sweet chili and garlic prawns ($12).  The sauce is exactly as described, sweet, a bit spicy and a kick of garlic; all great flavours.  The shrimp were deep fried and then stir fried with the sauce.  Overall, the dish was good but not amazing and lacking a Korean flare to it.  In terms of value for money, the dish definitely isn’t worth what it’s asking for.

 


The lobster “bi bim bbap” ($18), was a dish I had on our first visit and loved, so insisted we get it again.  Sadly, it wasn’t as good as I remembered.  I believe the problem stemmed from the waitress putting it down and stirring it up right away (sorry, the picture looks like a pot of mess as I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture before the destruction began).  I understand, this is the correct way to eat it – drizzle in the thick sweet and spicy gochujang sauce then mix until all the ingredients are disbursed.  But, this also makes the deep fried lobster mushy and doesn’t give the rice a chance to develop a crispy crust on the bottom.  I would have much preferred if they just served it, explained what the customer should do and let them decide when the moment to mix is.



Our last dish was the best of this evening, the “dak kogi” (chicken) ssäm set ($25).  The teriyaki type glazed chicken is served on a hot sizzling skillet with slivers of carrots, cucumbers and onion.  To eat, you take a piece of romaine lettuce, add the ingredients, top with any condiment you like (we were given gochujang sauce, raw onion mixed in a pickled kimchi sauce), then wrap it up and ingest! My first experience having ssäm, I really liked it and would love to go back to try the beef or pork versions.   

 





During a past visit, I tried the Swish Seafood ($30), which is like shabu shabu or hot pot.  A small pot of broth is brought to the table along with plate of raw shrimp, mussels, vegetables and noodles.  It’s a good option for someone who doesn’t like spicy or overly strong tastes – compared to other items on their menu.  However, for someone that loves bold flavours, I found it to be pretty bland.  Plus, because you’re only cooking a few ingredients within the broth, it didn’t develop that lovely deep essence I normally associate with broth based cooking.

Many reviews note the service here is poor, I didn’t find that to be the case.  I would say there were better servers than other – a gentleman that took our order was nice and explained everything and offered suggestions, while the lady server was a bit moody and offered one word answers (she was also the one that mixed up the bi bim bbap without asking). In the end, it wasn’t extremely friendly service but no one was overtly rude either.             

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System
  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!
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