By next month, 9 Tail Fox is looking to bring a new dimension to Korean food in Montreal with what city chefs call the city’s “first-ever Korean tapas” style. The menu combines their Korean culture with techniques and cuisines from their periods at popular local restaurants.
Born and raised in Korea, Chefs Jongwook Lee and WonGoo Joun originally met as chefs at Plateau Big Restaurant in Japan, and cross paths sporadically as their careers developed. While Joun continued to gain experience in French cuisine from titles such as Pullman, Maison Boulud, and Pastel, Lee spent time as an assistant chef at Cadet.
During the pandemic, they’ve reconnected with Japanese restaurant Bar Otto and that’s where 9 Tail Fox’s plans began to take shape, with the launch of a pop-up dinner to test the concept.
“Me and I have always wanted to open a restaurant together. We started with the idea of creating a place that specialized in tonkatsu, but that started to evolve,” says John. “During the pandemic, we’ve had a lot of time to plan together, meeting two to four times a week to brainstorm ideas.”
These meetings result in a seasonally changing Korean tapas menu of dishes they hope will broaden the horizons of Montrealers when it comes to Korean specialties, flavors and techniques. “A lot of Korean food in Montreal is quite typical or traditional with dishes like bibimbap or bulgogi,” Lee explains. “It’s great food, but we don’t think it gives people enough of an idea of what Korean food could be.”
Chefs’ dishes can be thought of in three categories: one featuring traditional dishes commonly found in Montreal such as galbi-gui (short ribs) or tonkatsu marinated with koji with lemon salt; Another restaurant seeks to introduce the city to lesser known Korean dishes such as gyeranjim (Korean steamed eggs served with nori-anchovy broth) or the traditional charcoal-grilled salted sea bass; The third includes Korean dishes that satisfy the crowd with European bistro dishes.
“We know the flavors of Korean cuisine. We grew up with them. Now we know techniques and flavors from kitchens like Italian and French and we can mix them together […]tell me.
The menu features soy-marinated capellini served with mattani shrimp and perilla, beef with seaweed crostini, charcuterie plates of house pickles, ssamjang (Korean dipping sauce) and pig’s head terini and torch-hog take cues from Korean pyeonyuk.
All of this would be washed down with a wine list consisting mostly of Quebec red and white, as well as sogo and sake. On the cocktail side, chefs have assembled a selection to be served on tap and prepared from fruits and vegetables used elsewhere in the restaurant to reduce restaurant waste.
The restaurant has taken over the space that formerly housed SudWest Gyros & Co. In St-Henri, the 40-seat restaurant will feature an additional 30-seat terrace outside.
9 9 Tail Fox is scheduled to open in mid-August at 3401 Notre-Dame Street West.