Sharing a bubbling hot pan of spicy seafood stew from Seoul Restaurant (621 Bloor St. West) is one of the best ways to catch up with a good friend. When the dish arrives perched atop a flaming gas element, you’ll both sit quietly in anticipation for three minutes. That’s all the time it takes for the broth to cook the mussels, squid, various types of shrimp and fish, and warm through the tofu, zucchini, carrots, bean sprouts and cabbage. Then you’ll have plenty of time for rousing conversation and dramatic storytelling while you work through the stew, four types of pan chan (Korean side dishes) and a bowl of rice each. It’s a steal at $18, which serves two with leftovers.

Our favourite extra topping is udon noodles, but there’s plenty to choose from including sausage, ramen, a boiled egg, and one we couldn’t resist trying: cheese. Seeing a Kraft Single ooze and melt into all that seafood did seem blasphemous, but friendships will only grow stronger over the shared revelation that this creamy addition to the soup is surprisingly good.

Seoul Sam Mi Restaurant / 621 Bloor St W, Toronto