I came across this restaurant not too long ago but was suspicious that it might not taste “authentic” enough for my taste. I looked through the menu and wasn’t really convinced as I’m used to the hole-in-the-wall, cheap-but-tasty Korean eateries. The other day I went in for my hour lunch break because I’m the type of person who gives a chance to all Korean restaurants or bars because I might just find one that can mimic my dearest mother’s cooking.
Upon walking in through those double doors, I was greeted by the courteous waitresses wearing cute traditional rainbow-coloured aprons. If you’ve flown Korean Air, you know that they have top service – actually a quick Google shows me they acquired the World’s Excellence in Service Award a few years back. I ordered the Kimchi Jigae ($18), which is a spicy kimchi stew with pork, tofu and mushrooms. For a wee lunchtime tipple to accompany my food, I had a bottle of Baek Sae Ju ($16). Translated to “one-hundred-years wine,” this drink is slightly sweet with herbal flavours and strong ginseng notes. It’s a great gateway into the ubiquitous drink that all Koreans drink on a regular basis: Soju.
What’s different about Hansik is that they’ve really cornered the “traditional” theme, displaying Korean instruments, furniture, artwork and music to make it old-school authentic. The menu is quite extensive and all the meals come with side dishes that includes kimchi, sliced eggroll and marinated garlic shoots. If you wish to go for a degustation experience, the affordable price range is from $39 to $69.
While I was eating this huge portion of kimchi stew by myself, the music was a noticeable element that I found to be rather amusing and interesting. It was very dramatic – similar to a sound track that you would hear in an ancient Korean adventure movie with lots of swords and fighting. Kind of like a Korean version Pirates of the Carribean. They also played a succession of different renditions of “Arirang” which was hilarious for me to listen to.
Hansik may be one of the only upscale Korean restaurants that I will return to with a Korean friend. It may be slightly on the pricier side, but something about it is so relaxing and appealing. If you’ve thought about endeavoring into Asian cuisine, Hansik is a great place to start. It’s definitely worth a try.