Sort-of Secret: No Pain Gimbap, a new west-end kitchen for Korean snacks
Sort-of Secret: No Pain Gimbap, a new west-end kitchen for Korean snacks The sort-of secret: No Pain Gimbap, a grab-and-go counter inside a Dundas West wine bar from Donna’s co-owner Ann KimYou may have heard of it if: You’ve popped into Grape Crush for a drinkBut you probably haven’t tried it because: It’s only about a month old What’s wrapped in seaweed and steamed rice, comes in a dizzying array of options, and is perfectly portable for summer picnics? You might be thinking of maki (sushi rolls), given their ubiquity in the city. No Pain Gimbap—from Ann Kim, co-owner of Donna’s, the much-loved west-end restaurant—recently took over the kitchen inside Grape Crush, a wine bar and bottle shop at Dundas and Ossington.
“My parents have moved in with me and my family, so we’ve been cooking a lot more Korean food at home,” she says. Gimbap looks a lot like maki, but key differences set the two apart. The spicy pork gimbap is an early menu favourite on the menu, which consists of five kinds of gimbap, pork-and-vegetable dumplings, and a few house-made dips. This roll is a perfect example of gimbap’s peculiar magic: the savoury filling makes it satisfyingly substantial, but it’s light enough to leave you feeling borderline spritely.
Another triumphant, veg-friendly option is the crispy fried shiitake roll, a tribute to Donna’s popular fried mushroom sandwich. In another rendition, Kim brilliantly transmutes bibimbap—the popular Korean rice dish—into a vegetable-forward roll that combines mirin-seasoned omelette and burdock root braised with sweet soy, spinach, sautéed carrots, bean sprouts and gochujang-laced bibim sauce. To go with your choice of roll(s), you can get an order of pork-and-vegetable dumplings, deep fried and served with chili crisp and soy, or a crisp iceberg lettuce and wakame salad, mild enough to serve as a refreshing palate cleanser as you explore the rest of the gimbap menu. As for No Pain’s future direction, Kim hopes to capitalize on gimbap’s uniquely takeout and delivery-friendliness, but isn’t clear yet on where that will take her.
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