From the outside, you might mistake it for a new furniture shop. With its dark grey exterior, floor-to-ceiling windows, tufted seating — not to mention a highly photogenic floor — Koek Koek is a dream for any design lover. So it only makes sense that Nikki Hall, with her background in building, would open up such a stylish eatery.
ALL IN THE NABE
A happy resident of the Lytton Park nabe for a handful of years now, Hall found herself coming up short when seeking out healthy and tasty grub. Chasing around four kids (yup, four) at home while trying to satiate their food needs, Hall knew that other families in the area likely shared the same lifestyle. Although she would be gunning for salads, her kids didn’t necessarily have the same meal in mind. The solution, of course, sounded simple: just open up her own restaurant. Problem solved. Although it may have been easier said than done, the results are a testament to a hands-on approach and a winning team.
“We built everything,” Hall says, pointing around the space. This includes a lengthy communal table that does its best to showcase a tree (Hall selected the perffect one to be felled), tree stumps dipped in gold (there’s a theme here) and some quirky touches like a brassiere hanging in the ladies’ room (ask Hall for the tale). Three months later and Koek Koek was ready to open.
FRESH AS CAN BE
When it came to designing the menu, Hall wanted everything to be simple, delicious and made from scratch daily.
“It really is how I want to eat,” Hall says. Offerings range from those aforementioned salads, which can run the gamut from beets-on-beets to celeriac wedded to apple in a mustard vinaigrette. Naturally healthful toasts made the cut, too. One pick arrives slathered with almond butter and topped with banana and chia seeds.
THE BIG BOWL
Bowls are another main draw. The Obi Wan Bulgogi ($15) has been the top seller to date. (We’re pretty sure that named has helped steer its path to popularity.) Beginning with a bed of black rice, the meal-in-a-bowl is loaded up with purple cabbage, roasted broccolini and a poached egg. The Korean angle comes from house-made kimchi and bulgogi steak strips.
“If you’re eating in, we make everything à la minute,” Hall says. However, many customers do just grab ’n’ go, especially when it comes to their take-out hot dinners meant to feed a busy family of four.
Despite all of the signs indicating otherwise, some folks still think it’s a Subway. “I still get people coming in and asking for a foot-long!” Hall laughs.
They’re in for a pleasant surprise.
Koek Koek, 2685 Yonge St., 416-901-0209