What’s on the menu at Orote, a Korean restaurant with a tasting menu from an Actinolite veteran
Contact: 276 Havelock Street, @oroterestaurant
District: Dufferin Grove
Owners: Han Kim, James Lee and Kwangtaek Lee
Chief: Kwangtaek Lee
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
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.
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 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.