Korean specialties to warm a student’s belly and budget

A spicy squid dish from the Owl of Minerva that’s great to order have when you’ve got the flu.

A spicy squid dish from the Owl of Minerva that’s great to order have when you’ve got the flu. (Cait Carter/ The Sheridan Sun)


You can’t beat the Owl of Minerva for a good, cheap lunch.

Located across the street from the Oakville GO station, a yellow sign welcomes you to the restaurant, along with simple decorations in basic colours. Benches and tables sit in rows in the restaurant, leading to the back where the kitchen is located.

Televisions with Korean news and music videos are playing for customers, and Korean music is being played as well. The place is loud when it gets busy.

The Owl of Minerva also provides free Wi-Fi, which is great for people who want to get work done while they eat.

The place is also great for people looking for late night eats as it’s open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays (excellent for post-video game snacks).

The restaurant is simple, clean and filled with the delicious aroma of cooking broth. This place is known for its soup dishes.

Owl of Minerva was busy at lunch with customers from local businesses and other customers who appeared to be regulars.


And every table that ordered had a dish that was some sort of soup, whether it was a familiar chicken noodle, or Owl of Minerva’s renowned pork bone soup.

We tried for the famous pork bone, but when we tried to order it, they were sold out.

Our server recommended the beef side rib soup instead, but that was hardly up to snuff. That dish was a bit bland, with the potential for interesting flavour that was ruined by strangely dry, overcooked meat. The dish was served with rice, but it did little for the flavour.

However, every other dish we tried blew that soup out of the park.

Every table at the restaurant is given a variety of kimchi, a spicy Korean dish that has more than 200 varieties.

Owl of Minerva serves four kinds, including sesame oil infused bean sprouts, spicy radish cubes, a sort of sweet pickled cucumber, and a traditional spicy cabbage kimchi.

All of them are good, but the cabbage kimchi was definitely the spiciest. The cucumber was great as something to calm down the spice, while also being crunchy and cool in your mouth.

The Korean dumplings are served both steamed and fried – definitely try them fried, as the crunchiness matches well with the pork filling inside. The dish is served with a yummy soya sauce-sesame oil mixture, which accents the filling as well.

Their chicken noodle soup is a dish of udon noodles, known for being chewy and really thick, and a smaller amount of shredded chicken and mushrooms. This dish is big, though – really big. And as you eat it, the noodles seem to thicken the broth, turning it from a soup to a sort of stew. It’s great when you’re hungry, but keep in mind it gets richer the longer you let it sit.

The Owl of Minerva also serves stir-fry dishes, including options varying from beef to pork to seafood.

They serve a spicy squid stir-fry that comes with vegetables and white rice, which had a somewhat sweet flavour to it. It was also remarkably hot, in a sort of good way.

Picture something you want to eat when you’re sick: this is the stuff. It clears your sinuses, but isn’t so harsh that you can’t finish your plate from the spice. The vegetables and squid were cooked well, not too chewy or overdone.

The star at the Owl has to be the ramen. One of the most inexpensive dishes, the plate is exactly the sort of ramen you could order at home, only brought to the next level that you would never think of.

The dish arrives to you bubbling hot, and as you stir you just keep finding more delicious add-ons. It comes with a poached egg that you can mix into the broth, creating a delicious creaminess to the dish. Also in there are small rice cakes, green onion, shaved carrot, onion and even a pork dumpling for good measure.

The broth is a little spicy but on the same level as the squid dish, delicious for when you have a cold and not overwhelming. The entire thing was the perfect size for dinner.

As good as the food is, however, the best thing about the Owl of Minerva has to be the price. A meal for two including an appetizer and two entrees came up at $30, which is affordable for any budget. And their ramen? It rings in at $8.

It’s close by. It’s cheap. And I’m a broke student with good taste.

I know where I’m going for lunch.