Try these 5 waffle hotspots for delicious, fresh-from-the-grill snacks in this walkable Bloor Street West neighbourhood.
Warm up to winter with hodo kwaja (walnut cakes), taiyaki, Hong Kong-style egg waffles and other sweet Asian treats you can enjoy while strolling Koreatown's Bloor Street West strip (possibly after tobogganing at Christie Pits Park). Get ’em while they’re hot and fresh from the iron!
Here are 5 bakeries, cafés and take-out stands where you can find the steamy treats you seek.
You wouldn’t want to go to Koreatown without grabbing a box full of walnut cakes from this quintessential Korean bakery. And if you were wondering what hodo kwaja means, it literally translates as “walnut cake.” A Toronto fixture for over 25 years, this family-owned business specializes in five treats: walnut cakes, Korean pancakes, madeleine sponge cakes, shaved ice and seasonal chun byung nut (or dried seaweed) cookies.
A Koreatown landmark of sorts, Hodo Kwaja is hard to miss, since its star attraction occupies most of its storefront. The giant walnut-cake-making machine — which also makes madeleines and chun byung — was imported directly from South Korea. That said, the red bean and mashed potato fillings, as well as batter for the cakes, are all prepared by hand. 656 Bloor St. W.
Escape winter weather in this cheerful hole-in-the-wall filled with colourful waffles. Whether you choose to sink your teeth into a purple ube, neon green pandan or black sesame waffle, you won’t be disappointed. It doesn’t hurt that these Asian-inspired waffles are made using nonalcoholic beer or coconut milk batter, and that some of them are vegan and gluten-free as well.
This intimate little waffle shop gives you an opportunity to get up close and personal with the waffle-making process! It’s particularly interesting to discover all the alternative ingredients and cultural twists, like a beer-batter waffle with crispy chicken skin.
Fun fact: Their name was inspired by basketball player Larry Johnson, who once appeared as a grandma in a series of commercials, earning him the nickname Grandmama. 363½ Clinton St.
If you truly want to feel like a Koreatown local, pop inside P.A.T. Central, part of a chain touted as Canada’s first Korean supermarket. Have fun browsing the aisles for a decent selection of grab-and-go Asian delicacies, including a superb dessert section.
Buuuut what you really want to keep an eye out for is Kevin’s Taiyaki, which is easy since it’s located right next to the entrance! A literal hole-in-the-wall (unlike the petite but stand-alone Grandmama’s), Kevin’s offers crispy Japanese fish-shaped waffle cakes filled with custard or red beans. Freshly griddled and not too sweet, they’re the perfect pick-me-up, whether you’ve just finished tobogganing, grocery shopping or a big meal! 675 Bloor St. W. (inside P.A.T. Central)
One thing that many people may not know is, poop (yes, you read that correctly) has long been revered in South Korea. An old superstition states that a person will be prosperous if they dream of dung, as it is associated with wealth and good fortune. So, while some may visit this toilet-themed restaurant for laughs, others may be showing up for luck!
The café’s decorated with the infamous emoji, and the potty references don’t end there: the seats look like toilets and so do the ice-cream bowls. But if you can get past the playfully juvenile theme, you’ll surely be impressed by the generous range of Asian desserts on offer, including Hong Kong egg waffles topped with ice cream, whipped cream, syrup, candy and chocolate.
Winter can be a hard time for many, but you’re guaranteed to lighten your mood if you stop by Poop Cafe for a laugh or two and a tasty treat. 706 Bloor St. W.
Fuwa Fuwa (which means “fluffy fluffy” in Japanese) is a slice of heaven just down the street from Koreatown, in the Annex neighbourhood. Fuwa Fuwa’s Japanese soufflé pancakes have made the jump from Japanese dessert craze to local fave. Traditionally served after weddings to bring happiness and good fortune, this cloud nine confection deserves to be ordered for more than just one occasion.
The café decor is as light and airy as the pancakes, with a minimalist and modern Japanese aesthetic. A labour of love and care that takes about 20 minutes from start to finish, their signature dish is well worth the wait — especially when you’re enjoying refuge from the cold!
Sip a matcha latte, listen to some J-pop and enjoy your pancakes with any number of toppings or simply with butter and maple syrup. 408 Bloor St. W.
Getting to Koreatown:
Take the Line 2 Bloor-Danforth subway to Christie station.