What’s on the menu at Orote, a Korean restaurant with a tasting menu from an Actinolite veteran

What’s on the menu at Orote, a Korean restaurant with a tasting menu from an Actinolite veteran

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Name: Orote
Contact: 276 Havelock Street, @oroterestaurant
District: Dufferin Grove
Owners: Han Kim, James Lee and Kwangtaek Lee
Chief: Kwangtaek Lee
Seats: 28
Accessibility: Not fully accessible

The food

Lee established himself after four years of experience at Actinolite, Justin Cournoyer’s famous contemporary Canadian restaurant. Under her tutelage, Lee learned the virtues of locavorism, preservation and fermentation, as well as a creative and experimental culinary vision that breaks down a dish into its component parts and transforms it into something new. At the helm of Orote, Lee applies these principles to his culinary heritage by reinventing classic Korean flavor profiles, turning condiments into main events, and slapping it all together with a dose of thoughtful modern technique.

In Lee’s world, a shrimp and pork combo becomes a thin, brined pork belly with a dusting of shrimp powder; dehydrated mussels and radishes invite themselves into a green salad; roasted buckwheat tea is dipped in cream, foamed with a light whisk and sprinkled with chocolate. It’s all presented on an elegant six-course prix fixe menu ($78, plus optional add-ons), which will at least rotate seasonally.

For the first course on the menu, Lee reinvents shrimp and pork, a classic flavor combination of Korean cuisine. The pork belly, dried and pressure cooked, which tenderizes the otherwise tough skin, is very thinly sliced ​​and topped with grilled shrimp powder. Steamed kohlrabi and pickled cham-namul greens accompany it; the clean freshness of the root and the invigorating acidity of the grass are welcome to the melting richness of the pork.
Here we have two skewers of charcoal-grilled lobster and honey-sweetened kabocha squash, topped with deeply flavorful black garlic and shaved walnuts. The charcoal stops just short of submerging the lobster; the result is a warm, earthy bite that whets the appetite for what’s to come.
Beneath this happy tangle of dandelion greens, topped with a mussel juice vinaigrette and garnished with fermented and dehydrated radishes, are tender pan-fried mussels in garlic butter. No sad house salads here: this dish is all about depth, umami and character.
Mushroom tofu balls sprinkled with scallions, nappa cabbage and shiitake mushrooms are served in a warm, umami-rich bonito dashi. Nestled next to them are wild yellow-footed mushrooms (Actinolite hat tip); lightly spiced horseradish oil is drizzled. Add shaved truffle for an additional $10.
One of two options for the main event is buttered halibut, seated in a braised portobello mushroom sauce and topped with toasted sesame paste. Lee pressure cooks the sesame in salted water, which lessens its slight bitterness, before shaping it into its silky final form. The bright and spunky yu choy plays over the deep, nutty bassline of the dish.
Perfectly tender charcoal-grilled pork loin, cooked to retain any redness, is the other main course option. It’s served with braised kale and gochuchang green broccolini, and a tangle of fermented leeks.
Lee recommends adding the optional miso-yellow rice to your main dish, especially if you’re sharing. Miso-salted shredded egg yolk, scallions and a seasoned “secret soy sauce” adorn what is perhaps one of the tastiest elaborations ever made on a simple bowl of short-grain rice. $4.
The dessert is what can only be described as a cloud of barley cream. Inspired by barley tea – a beloved staple in many East Asian countries – the cream is infused with roasted barley, whipped into an ethereal foam and topped with puffed buckwheat, black sesame and grated dark chocolate.
Here we have the chicken ssam, an optional addition to the prix fixe menu. Pulled chicken, seasoned with soybeans and gochugaru, is topped with an aromatic perilla chiffonade and covered with a delicate layer of pickled mu, or Korean radish. The sleek packets get a final layer of crispy, nutty ground sesame. $12.
Chief Lee
The drinks

A tight but well-balanced selection of natural wines, including local and Old World labels, make up the bulk of the drinks menu. There are also a handful of beer and cider options, a few proxies of non-alcoholic wine from Acid League, and water from local producer Lark.

A current selection of bottles offered

A palette of slate gray, wood, and terracotta gives the one-room restaurant a peaceful, modern vibe that emphasizes the finely plated dishes. Much of the tableware is handcrafted by local ceramists like Akai Ceramic Studio. A massive wall mural with the Orote tiger logo looms over a row of comfy banquettes and 10 bar spots, a few of which face the bustling open kitchen.

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