Joanne Kates reviews the mar­vel­lous mashups at new down­town hot spot Doma

Doma hits the nail on the head with its French-in­flected Korean food

North York Post - - Contents - JOANNE KATES Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cor­don Bleu de Cui­sine in Paris. She has writ­ten ar­ti­cles for nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Ma­clean’s and Chate­laine.

Mar­vel­lous mashups are all over the Toronto food scene, but none of the oth­ers are quite so ex­cit­ing as Doma. Who could have thought up French-in­flected Korean food? To my palate it’s a bit of an un­likely mar­riage, given the re­liance of Korean food on heat and kim­chi, as against France’s more nu­anced gas­tro­nomic min­uet.

But Doma hits the nail on the head. They start with an amuse­bouche — a tiny pot of vichys­soise that’s a cross be­tween mousse and soup, all air and savour.

Doma lives in the funky lit­tle space just up from Col­lege on Clin­ton, where once was Aca­dia and then Red Sauce. It’s now a pretty plain white room, with lit­tle in the way of glitz or glam­our. Same self-con­scious down­scale mind­set ap­plies to the servers, whose modus operandi seems to be that less is more. With such icon­o­clas­tic food, one does want to know what’s in it. As each course is set down, I ask th­ese ques­tions to the sev­eral servers. Do they think they’re cool for not an­swer­ing?

If the food were not so fab­u­lous, I might not want to go there. But I do. Again and again and again. Even the ap­par­ently pedes­trian turns scin­til­lat­ing here. Wal­dorf salad, the ho-hum

refuge of ’ 50s house­wives, has piz­zazz to spare, thanks to per­illa (a mint-like herb) leaf pow­der and per­illa seed aïoli jazz­ing up the im­pec­ca­bly crisp cele­riac and green ap­ple with su­perbly can­died wal­nuts.

The Korean kitchen ap­pears in konyak, won­der­fully scented jelly-like noo­dles tossed with su­per-ten­der grilled oc­to­pus, cab­bage, sweet pep­pers, crispy pear, sea­weed pow­der, lightly pick­led fat mus­tard seeds for tang and small dots of cu­cum­ber granita (!) to re­fresh. This ain’t yer nor­mal kim­chi spic­ing.

Uh­sun man­doo are Korean dumplings usu­ally served with a sauce of soy, vine­gar and chili. It gets a splen­did cross-cul­tural re­make, mor­ph­ing into ravi­oli stuffed with scal­lop, red snap­per and prawn, the soy chili ap­pear­ing in gos­samer beurre blanc punc­tu­ated with a river of sweet onion purée and small dots of pale green fresh pea purée. A side of grilled radic­chio of­fers the bit­ter that the sweet needs.

But noth­ing grabs the eye more dra­mat­i­cally than kalbi bour­guignon. Two great na­tional beef dishes. Hard to see where the twain might meet. Ap­par­ently the beef is mar­i­nated in Korean spices. Doesn’t taste it. Kal­bi­jjim is Korean beef stew. Bour­guignon is the great French beef stew, long sim­mered with red wine, onions, car­rots and pota­toes. Two dif­fer­ent takes on beef. The Doma ver­sion is straight up bour­guignon to my taste. And I love it. Es­coffier could not have im­proved this ren­di­tion.

We’re back to Korean French fu­sion with rhubarb and gin­ger — puck­ery rhubarb sor­bet atop gin­gery crum­ble with su­per­smooth rice pud­ding. This is a pink ’n’ pretty shout-out to spring. Which ends any minute at Doma. They change the menu the first Tues­day of ev­ery month, keep­ing a few pop­u­lar items (uh­sun man­doo? kalbi bour­guignon? grilled oc­to­pus?)

We’d be sad about the demise of the spring menu, but that’s not a good choice. Bet­ter to leap into an­tic­i­pa­tory joy about what magic the Doma kitchen will send forth in homage to summer’s bounty.

Clock­wise from top: chef-owner Paul Kim, kalbi bour­guignon, a trio of uh­sun man­doo

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