Expect authentic Korean food with a modern twist at Hansik Goo, brought to you by the award-winning chef behind Seoul restaurant Mingles.
District: Central, Hong Kong
How much: The eight-course tasting menu is priced at $780 per person
Must-try dishes: Yukhoe (Korean-Style Beef Tartare), Samgye Risotto and the Bulgogi
The best for: Occassion dining
Editor’s Note: We visited Hansik Goo before the current social distancing regulations came into place. The restaurant is now closed for dinner service until further notice, but will be open for lunch instead from 12pm to 4pm (Monday to Saturday). At this time, diners can still enjoy the full tasting menu, or opt for a shorter version of four courses for $450 per person. Please make sure you follow the latest government advice if dining out.
Not even a global pandemic could put a dampener on the excitement surrounding the opening of Hansik Goo – the first international restaurant of celebrated Korean chef Mingoo Kang. Perhaps that’s not too surprising given that Mingles, his restaurant in Seoul, currently holds an impressive two Michelin stars. Did we mention that it has also been voted the best restaurant in Korea for four consecutive years?
Now Kang is bringing his unique brand of contemporary Korean cuisine to Hong Kong, in collaboration with restaurant group ZS Hospitality. Located in a sleek modern space within Lyndhurst Terrace, Hansik Goo aims to introduce diners to authentic Korean food, with a modern twist. Now in its soft opening phase, the restaurant is offering an eight course tasting menu, with a full à-la-carte selection to be launched in the coming months.
To get a sense of what Hansik Goo has to offer, we settled in to try the eight course tasting menu. It’s worth noting that while Kang was not in Hong Kong at the time of our tasting, he had meticulously trained his chefs via live video to ensure we were able to experience the very best of his culinary talents. And this attention to detail really paid off! In addition to being very aesthetically pleasing, each dish impressed with unexpected flavours. Designed to be shared family-style, the menu was further elevated by the use of high-quality ingredients imported directly from Korea.
To start, we were served Bugak, an assortment of seasonal Korean chips (including fish skin, seaweed and perilla leaf) fried in rice flour. Despite appearances, these were incredibly light and delicate in flavour. This was followed by Dubu Wanja, a modern take on Korean meatballs made from tofu, crab meat and diced zucchini, and accompanied by an anchovy and crab stock.
Next came one of our favourite courses of the night, Yukhoe, or Korean-Style Beef Tartare. Featuring Australian Wagyu beef, this dish had a kick thanks to the addition of Kang’s famous jangs (sauces). To offset the slight spice, a side of sweet Korean pear was the perfect complement. Finished with a drizzle of sesame oil, Jerusalem artichoke chips for crunch and quail egg yolk, this was a standout.
The Samgye Risotto was another highlight. Here, Kang combined two of Korea’s most popular chicken dishes: ginseng chicken soup and Korean fried chicken. The result was a creamy gluttonous rice risotto, served with a hearty chicken bone broth. The dish was topped with a slow-cooked chicken breast and leg roll that had been perfectly fried with a rice flour coating. Think of this as a fine dining take on comfort food. We would happily come back just for this dish alone!
Rounding out the selection of appetisers was the Korean-Style Fish. A labour of love, the snapper had been aged for two and a half days to achieve a lovely tender texture. This is best enjoyed with a serving of rare two-year-old kimchi, which is sweeter and more umami in flavour than the fresh kind.
For the mains, diners get a choice between two meaty favourites. First, the Bulgogi, which is Korean beef marinated in a soy-based ganjang sauce. This dish was elevated by the addition of Korean glass noodles, alongside mushrooms and chopped onion. Next time, we’ll add an order of rice to make the most of the juices. The second option is a Barbecue Duo of marinated pork and chicken. Here, the meat was cooked sous vide to achieve the perfect tenderness. Both dishes were served with a helping of Ssam (leafy vegetable wraps) and home-made dipping sauce.
The final savoury offering of the night was the Bibim-Guksu, a spicy noodle dish complete with kimchi, perilla leaf and U.S. short rib. Rest assured, this won’t leave you with tears streaming down your face, but those who aren’t great with spice may want to substitute this for the prawn and black sesame seed noodle instead.
The tasting menu ends with a light and refreshing dessert of Korean melon and your choice of Omija (Korean water parsley sorbet) or Garu (mixed Korean grains ice cream). We tried the sorbet, which came with a sweet and salty omija berry juice that was ideal for offsetting the tartness. Simple and understated, it was just what was needed (and all that we could manage) at the end of seven courses!
Our verdict: If you’re looking for something a little different in Hong Kong, Hansik Goo is a must-try. Every dish really was excellent, packed with unexpected flavour combinations and culinary finesse. The menu here is a real celebration of chef Mingoo’s creativity and was a true joy to experience. Though it may seem a little on the pricier side, the portion sizes are generous. You definitely won’t leave hungry!
Perhaps our only reservation would be the atmosphere of the restaurant. It lacked a certain casual warmth and vibrancy, but perhaps that’s just a natural consequence of its fine dining pedigree. We imagine this will improve as it comes out of soft opening and the city looks to start dining out again properly. Nevertheless, we’d recommend saving your trip to Hansik Goo for a more formal dining occasion, such as an intimate anniversary date night or family event. In the latter case, make sure to ask about the private dining room for a truly special celebration.