Before I went to Korea two years ago, my experience with Korean cuisine was pretty much limited to Korean BBQs, bibimbaps, ttoekbokkis and… that’s about it. As I stayed with my friend when I was there, she and her incredibly hospitable mother, who also happens to be an amazing cook, made sure that I got a taste of all (and the best!) that Korea has to offer. Ever since then, Korean cuisine has been in my top five favourite cuisines, and thereafter began my search for the best Korean restaurants in Hong Kong. So when I heard about the recently-opened HANJAN in LKF, I couldn’t resist trying it out.
As soon as I stepped inside the restaurant, I was warmly greeted by the staff and within minutes one of their signature cocktails – the Kimchi Fizz – was in my hand. My cursed alcohol allergy meant that I could only taste the drink sans the vodka, but I must say that it was surprisingly light and oh-so-refreshing.
HANJAN is made up of two areas: a chic but elegant bar with a wide selection of drinks and the minimalistic and almost rustic dining area, which boasts a tree imported from Korea. It’s safe to say that HANJAN is truly committed to bringing the Korean experience to Hong Kong!
The menu features an exciting selection of dishes. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a traditional and authentic Korean experience or a more daring venture into the world of Korean fusion cuisine, HANJAN has got you covered.
First up was the Yukhoe, a traditional Korean steak tartare. The raw beef is marinated with Korean seasoning and combined with a quail egg and some julienned pear right before serving. The result was delicious! The beef was tender with just the perfect amount of seasoning, complimented by the subtle sweetness of the crisp julienned pear.
After some good old traditional-fare, it was time for some Korean fusion! The Kimato Cheese Ball is your typical mozzarella and tomato salad except it comes with a twist – the lightly poached tomato is hollowed out and stuffed with kimchi and mozzarella. I was initially a bit skeptical – it may be pretty to look at, but kimchi and cheese… really? However, once I took a bite, those thoughts went out of the window. The kimchi adds a kick to the mild flavours of tomato and mozzarella without overpowering them, creating a more exciting version of your normal mozzarella and tomato salad.
Nothing screams traditional Korean cuisine louder than Gejang – a raw crab marinated in soy sauce. HANJAN’s Soy Sauce Gejang embodies the unique and delicate flavours of this dish so well that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Don’t be put off by the fact that it consists of raw crab – HANJAN uses only the freshest crabs imported directly from Korea.
Next up was the Fried Chicken with Four Sauces. Fried chicken is definitely a fast food favourite in Korea, so popular that you can even get it delivered to your doorstep. The fried chicken at HANJAN was tender and juicy, covered with a crispy skin that is neither greasy nor too thick. I wasn’t particularly impressed by the sauces that came with the chicken, but I was happy enough to eat the chicken on its own. The beer drinkers seemed to enjoy washing down this dish with a pint of Hite, a light Korean beer.
If you’re a spice junkie then you should definitely go for the HANJAN Octopus. Stir fried in a piping hot pan, the wild octopus certainly packs quite a fiery kick. That being said, the spiciness did not overwhelm all the other delicious flavours in the dish. Despite being slightly too spicy for me, it didn’t stop me from tucking in (with giant gulps of iced water in between!).
And for the grand finale – HANJAN’s Fist of Fury – pork knuckle slow cooked with 11 kinds of medicinal herbs until the meat is so tender that it just melts in your mouth. This is a traditional Korean dish that can be eaten in a traditional way. It comes with a sauce and a nicely arranged basket of salad leaves for you to make your own tasty little parcel. The portion was generous, which made it perfect for sharing.
HANJAN, meaning “One Shot” in Korean, certainly managed to nail both traditional and modern Korean cuisine in one go. An escape from the hustle and bustle of LKF, it’s a cool place to come to for drinks or dinner. It’s on the pricey side with signature cocktails coming in at $130 and dishes costing between $200-$400, but the food and the ambiance do justify the prices! You’ll walk away with a brand new perspective on Korean cuisine, and I would definitely encourage all Korean food lovers, newbies and veterans alike, to ditch their Korean BBQs and head on over to HANJAN for something a bit more creative.
HANJAN, G/F, 4-5 Wo On Lane, Central, Hong Kong, 2409 6000, www.facebook.com/HanjanHK