September 15, 2021

Jang jang jang jang

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I was really happy with my first visit to Hansik Goo, Chef Mingoo Kang's outpost in Hong Kong. That was during the early days, when we were forbidden to dine out after 6 p.m. and lunch was the only available option. Since then the restaurant has become so popular that it seemed to be booked out weeks in advance, and I tend to shy away from places which takes me too much effort to secure a booking. So I haven't been back for over a year.

I did try to get myself a table a few months ago, but alas, nobody bothered to reply to the email request I sent. Since they were obviously too busy with other customers to take care of me, I just let it drop.

Well, it was now Sankala who wanted to go, and apparently the staff were much more responsive to her request... so I let her run with it, and she managed to get us a table exactly a month in advance. Not too bad nowadays, I suppose.

I was happy to see that the restaurant is serving Nordaq filtered water, because it means that we're reducing the number of bottled water that's being shipped around the world - reducing carbon emissions as well as waste.

Our meal began with a quartet of Korean starters:

Angelica and shrimp dasik (다식) - this had an interesting texture, like it was made of dried minced shrimp that's been compressed into a cookie.

Yukpo (육포) - the beef jerky was so tasty, with lots of flavor coming from beef fat, and plenty of umami.

Bugak (부각) - taken with the porridge.

Abalone juk (죽) with caviar - the porridge was pretty tasty, with plenty of coriander blended in. The abalone slices were pretty tasty, although I didn't think the caviar was needed in the mix.

Next came a platter bearing different hweh (회), assorted raw seafood with Korean condiments.

Amberjack and gochujang, doenjang, maesil, namul - definitely tasted the gochujang (고추장) and a light touch of the doenjang (된장) inside the roll. There was still some crunch in the texture.

Squid and chogochujang, seaweed - this was tasty, and the presentation was nice, too.

Hanwoo carpaccio - very, very tasty, as I would expect, with pickles balancing out the fat from the 1++A Hanwoo.

Mackerel and 2-year-old kimchi - this was good, and Sankala was happy because it wasn't as "fishy" as mackerel would normally be. The kimchi certainly helped in that aspect.

Cabbage Ssam: prawn ssam with white bean soup, sugar snap peas - the ssam (쌈) with minced prawn and sun-dried tomato stuffing inside the cabbage was really, really tasty, and the white bean soup came with lots of umami from shellfish. This was just a wonderful, wonderful dish.

By the way, this was introduced as a mandu... so was this not a ssam, then?

Fish mandu: Korean seasonal fish stuffed with Korean vegetables and Korean mustard, zucchini namul - the sea perch from Jeju Island (제주도) was stuffed with aged kimchi and tofu, the latter of which I mistook for some type of meat.  The perch itself was very tender, but on the lean side and not fatty at all.  I was rather surprised at the acidity in the mustard sauce, but the overall flavors were fine.

Samgye risotto 2.0: Hansik Goo ginseng chicken risotto - I really looked forward to this dish, as the original version was a favorite from my last visit.  There is no longer any soup in this deconstructed samgyetang (삼계탕), but instead we have a ginseng-flavored glaze on top of the roulade of deep-fried chicken. The risotto seemed to be more dry this time around, and we've got big chunks of mushrooms on the side along with thin slices of garlic. I still like the dish, and overall the flavors were more delicate tonight.

Prawn jeon: scallion pancake with prawn, prawn roe, and prawn powder - this was an extra we ordered, and in hindsight we probably could have done without it. While the bottom was nice and crispy unlike the versions found in your average Korean restaurant, and the flavors were much better than what I'm used to, it wasn't anything new or revelatory. And we didn't need the extra volume of food in our stomachs...

Served with pickled onions on the side.

The main course was Hanwoo duo and handon with guksu, which came in several parts:

Korean beef ddeokgalbi and striploin, served with today's banchan - we've got two different presentations of Korean beef here... slices of 1++A Hanwoo stripeloin, and minced beef patties (떡갈비) topped with crushed pine nuts. Both were very, very delicious.

Korean pork belly suyuk - the suyuk (수육) is a common ingredinent seen in bossam (보쌈) and also cold noodles. I am always up for pork belly.

Bossam kimchi

Ganjang noodle - Sankala and I have been watching a Netflix show on Korean cold noodles, and now we get a dose of it with these cold buckwheat noodles flavored with soy sauce. We separated the pile of noodles, mixed the sauce well, and alternated mouthfuls of noodles with bites of the beef and pork. Very, very happy.

Peach-mi: peach sorbet infused in Dongchimi - I was pleasantly surprised to find chunks of peaches inside the sorbet, but the real winner was the kaffir lime leaf oil... that was so intense!

Makgeolli: makgeolli ice cream, black garlic meringue, cheese snow - I love makgeolli (막걸리), and this was pretty good... with some finely chopped marinated citrus between the ice cream and the meringue on top.

We finished with two petits fours:

Black pineapple - this simultaneously reminded me of Akrame Bellanal's charcoal pineapple and the black garlic at Noma's Tokyo pop-up.

Black sesame dasik

Due to the restaurant's corkage policy and the fact that we ended up with just two of us, I picked a bottle from the restaurant's wine list that is easy to drink.

2019 Pazo de Señoráns Albariño - nose of tropical stone fruit, flinty, sweet and fruity on the nose. Very easy to drink.

How interesting that we ran into a friend who was entertaining for business. I thought that, more than one year on, the dishes being presented are certainly more refined compared to our first visit. Maybe next time we can grab My Birdbrain Cousin along, too.

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