Upon first glance, most people won’t even notice Toto’s Uncle Café.
Tucked right across from the nine bus terminal and The Monroe on East Covenanter Drive, the simply yet elegantly appointed restaurant offers its customers the standard Asian fusion fare of Korean and Japanese dishes, along with a splash of comfort foods that come in forms of fluffy, golden waffles made from scratch and topped with fruits.
Open since 2014, Toto’s is a dining spot for locals and students who live nearby. It is not unusual to see couples going on dates sitting at a table while a large family enjoys a night out nearby.
Situated inside a charming red-roofed house, Toto’s Uncle Café provides seating on its porch area for guests to enjoy their meal outside and bask in the sunshine on the occasion of a beautiful day. Inside, the vibrant green and orange colored walls and dark wood tables give the restaurant a lively and homey vibe.
Taking customer self-service to the next level, Toto’s gives guests pagers, which notify them when their food is ready by beeping. It also features a free salad buffet that is always stocked with lemon-infused water, macaroni salad and pickled daikon radish for guests to snack on while they wait for their food. Utensils are sorted and placed in trays and jars to the side of the counter as a unique form of decoration.
Toto’s menu is divided into six parts: waffles, Korean snacks, cup bap, noodles, bibimbap and kimbap.
Waffle choices include classic favorites such as strawberry, banana and chocolate. The Fruit Island waffle, with kiwi, strawberry, banana and ice cream on top, is a weekend brunch must-try.
The restaurant also has several fun Korean snacks like long, white cylinder-shaped rice cakes drenched in red chili paste, called ttok-bo-ki. Variations include cream ttok-bo-ki, which comes with cream sauce, and ra-bo-ki, in which the rice cake is replaced with ramen.
For entrees, Toto’s cup baps, described as “rice bowls with your choice on top”, are all under $7. Options include beef, teriyaki chicken, kimchi and tuna, spicy pork, curry, spicy squid and seafood.
Noodle lovers can rejoice in the fact that Toto’s offers both cold and hot noodle bowls. Guests can choose from cold ramen and jjol-myeon if they are in the mood for something cold. Hot noodle bowls include chashu, seafood and jjam-ppong ramen, served in steaming cream-colored soup with a boiled egg on the side. There are even cup ramen options for those looking for a quick bite.
More traditional Korean dishes include bibimbap with either beef, spicy pork or spicy squid. Topped with a fried egg and fresh vegetables, it makes a hearty and healthy meal. Kimbap, is another highlight of the menu, featuring vegetables, beef, tuna, cheese or kimchi fillings.
I had the Fruit Island waffle the last time I was at Toto's, and it was amazing. Among all the Bloomington restaurants I've been to, Toto's will always occupy a special place in my heart. Whether I want some time to myself or a place to hang out with my friends, it is always there, ready to welcome me with its spirited atmosphere, friendly staff and good food.
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