June 10, 2022

Once a year

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It's been close to a year since I last came to Hansik Goo, and I figured we were long overdue for a visit. Foolishly, I had initially booked the private room without realizing that there would be a pretty high minimum charge. As there were only 6 of us tonight and the numbers didn't make sense, I asked the restaurant to seat us in the main dining room instead. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised when the restaurant decided to seat us in the private room anyway without imposing the minimum charge.

While the tasting menu already offered a good range of dishes, I was greedy as usual... and ordered both of the optional add-ons.

Korean starters:

Clam juk (죽) with egg jjim and caviar - there was a layer of steamed egg at the bottom, and the porridge was made with clam stock as well as clams, along with some caviar and finely shredded laver.

Bugak (부각) - together with the porridge. Laver- or fish-flavored.

Dasik (다식) - compressed tea snack made of multi-grain and minced dried shrimp. Texture was very soft and moist.

Two ways to serve Fine de Claire oysters:

Deep-fried oyster with jangajji (장아찌) aioli - why was there only a tiny little dab of the aioli?!

Raw oyster with chogochujang - the chogochujang (초고추장) was made with plum. This was kinda like a different take on the standard tabasco or cocktail sauce.

Naengchae (냉채): seasonal seafood, spring vegetables with maesil dressing - this was Jeju flounder (광어), with slices of Daejo (대조) tomatoes, Korean pear, plus some white asparagus and bamboo shoots. The finely-diced condiment on top was made of maesil (매실), and the Korean plum delivered not just the crunch but good amount of acidity. The red perilla leaves were very fragrant, too.

Hanwoo mandu seolleongtang (한우 만두 설렁탕): Korean beef dumpling, traditional beef bone soup, winter truffle - the seolleongtang (설렁탕) was made by boiling beef bones for 18 hours, and the result was indeed very rich, viscous, and delicious. Tons of collagen here. The mandu (만두) was stuffed with Hanwoo beef, water chestnuts, and glass vermicelli. Pretty tasty. A ribbon made of egg on top. The shavings of Australian winter truffle didn't hurt.

Fish mandu: geum-tae stuffed with pork and vegetables and choganjang sauce - this was very, very tender and kinda fell apart once I started cutting into it. The tofu, pork, vegetable, and kimchi stuffing was very nice. The sauce had lively acidity to perk up one's tastebuds.

Samgye risotto 2.0: Hansik Goo ginseng chicken risotto - this has always been my favorite dish here, and tonight it came with steamed South African abalone that was just so, so soft and tasty... with plenty of butter. The deconstructed samgyetang (삼계탕) was still delicious.

Korea fried chicken, with yuza jang - this came with deep-fried eggplant. I thought in addition to some yuzu, the sauce also had some sansho (山椒) pepper.

Galbi jjim (갈비찜): braised beef short ribs with ganjang sauce - pretty nice, actually. With water chesnuts and mushrooms.

BBQ pork: ganjang and gochujang marinated pork, kimchi, today's banchan - the ibérico pork chop was marinated in ganjang (간장). The pork leg was marinated in gochujang. Served with a selection of banchan (반찬).

Guksu (국수) - noodle with sliced zucchini, aged kimchi, and egg ribbon. Cold anchovy broth. Delicious.

Maesil: maesil sorbet with Oolong tea jelly - lemon meringue on top of the plum sorbet. The Oolong tea jelly was pretty mild.

Jang trio: doenjang crème brûlée, ganjang pecan, gochujang powder - it's been a couple of years since my last jang trio so I decided to have it again. The perennial favorite. So much fun to eat, and such a great combination of flavors.

Makgeolli: makgeolli ice cream, black garlic meringue, cheese snow - very tasty as before. What's not to like when it's makgeolli (막걸리)?

Dagwa (다과 ): black sesame dasik, yakgwa (약과)

Korean mulberry leaf tea

We brought some wine along:

2014 William Fevre Chablis Les Clos, en magnum - the nose was surprisingly oily and ripe, but it was still lean on the palate, with a ripe finish. Drinking well.

The Leroy Bourgogne Blanc était bouchonnée...

1999 Ducru-Beaucaillou - served around 2 hours after decanting. Beautiful nose with graphite, cigar smoke, a hint of savory notes with some cassis underneath. Very fragrant and open. Drinking really well.

I enjoyed the dishes tonight more than Sankala did, as she felt the flavors no longer left her with any upside surprises. I still enjoyed most of the dishes, and some of them were pretty fun. However, the service tonight was far, far below what it should have been.

Wine service was a complete disaster. I learned later that their previous sommelier had recently left. We brought 2 bottles of white wine and a bottle of red. While the staff was busy fetching us ice buckets, I had asked for the white wines to be opened ASAP. Some fifteen minutes later the corks were still in. When I was asked about the bottle of red, I asked for it to be decanted. So the staff went off to the side to decant this bottle... while continuing to leave the whites unopened. HELLO?! Does she not realize that we would not drink the red until much, much later?! We start with lots of seafood and the big dishes with meats are towards the latter half of our meal. We were thirsty on this warm evening, and would like to start with some wines ASAP. I had to ask a third time before the corks were finally popped on the whites.

Oh, and when I asked for a bottle of red that has more than 20 years of age to be decanted, I didn't want the entire bottle - sediment and all - poured into a decanter. Any serving staff touching a bottle of wine at a restaurant with Michelin stars should know this. Or they don't have any business touching my wine.

Another pet peeve of mine relates to the introduction of dishes. These days, thanks to assholes like yours truly who want to know about the ingredients in every dish, restaurant staff have been trained to deliver a spiel about the dishes they had just laid out before the customers. Some of the introductions are so long that the staff memorize them and deliver them all in one go... and seemingly refuse to be interrupted.

So when the first speech was being made in Cantonese, Sankala had tried to tell the staff to do it in English, as not everyone at the table is fluent in Canto. Well, this was ignored because... the staff was totally in the zone and nothing could stop her from delivering her spiel in its entirety. Both Sankala and I rolled our eyes, and I even gestured with my arms in a sign of surender. When the Canto speech was done, we had to get it delivered a second time, in English. Sigh.

Oh well... overall we had a good time hanging out with friends, but there was a clear lack of communication between the staff on top of some miscommunication with us. I guess I'll wait until next year to see if they've managed to improve.

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