Han Ba Tang Part 1
Nelson @Han_Ba_Tang #HBTpreview: This busy photo is showing off jars of infused soju, a specialty at the relatively new Korean restaurant, Han Ba Tang. Infused Soju was a revelation and is now one of my new favourite alcohols. To infuse soju, different ingredients are left soaking in soju for 3-5 days releasing flavours before being served. They have a great variety of different types, but stay tuned for the next post to find out more!
Disclaimer: This meal was provided free of charge as part of a blogger media preview.
Originally started by the sister of Dufferin Soul House owner, this restaurant focuses on fusion Korean cuisine, while the original restaurant is more traditional. The owner wanted to introduce Korean food to a young non-Korean clientele in a casual environment. Speaking of which, the interior has an industrial vintage decor creating a distinctive look. The owner was actively soliciting feedback and has already changed the menu seven times since opening on July 1st 2014. Judging by how busy it was immediately after the event, I would say they must be doing something right.
|This evening was really well organized with little details that really made it unique such as this personalized sign welcoming us. Awesome! We started the night off with some drinks, the Kandy Crush on the right with strawberry soju, triple sec, raspberry sour and the HBT old fashioned with bourbon whiskey, lime, grapefruit and lemon peel. I'll give one guess which one is Kitty's and which is mine. The Old Fashioned was strong, but also very smooth making it a very enjoyable drink. The Kandy Crush as almost too sweet in comparison and although Kitty loved it, it was too sweet for my tastes.|
|Let's start on the food and first up is sweet potato chips with wasabi mayo. These are thick cut and tempura battered, and well cooked, but the highlight (at least for the girls) was the delicious mayo. They demolished it and wished there was even more! A good start.|
|Next appetizer is Chilli Shrimp which are lightly battered shrimp dipped in sweet chilli sauce. I thought they were more sweet than spicy, but it did have a tiny bit of kick. Perhaps it's more appealing this way in general, but in my mind, Korean food is famous for their spiciness. Maybe because I didn't immediately eat it (I was listening to the owner talk passionately about her restaurant), but I feel the shrimp was supposed to be crispier, but since it is covered in sauce it wasn't as crispy by the time I ate it.|
A truly fusion food and becoming very popular all over are Korean tacos. On the left is spicy pork tacos and on the right is kalbi. They are both on a bed of shredded cabbage with red onions and a house aioli. The kalbi itself tasted like candied meat and contrasted with the crunchy plain cabbage. It wasn't very saucy, and not very spicy, but it was good overall. The tortilla was normal, but I wonder what corn tortillas would taste like in this dish.
I liked the spicy pork better as it was spicier and had a mix of new fresh flavours. There was a strange dichotomy where cabbage lent a dryness to the taco while the drizzled sauce provided wetness creating some interesting textures. Sweet, spicy, salty, crunchy, soft (meat), saucy, dry, wet, all are descriptions that created a dish stimulating to the taste buds.
Perhaps already popularized by Banh Mi Boys, this is Han Ba Tang's version of Kimchi fries, but with bulgogi. It is described as extra crispy fries topped with kimchi, aioli, gravy, sizzling bulgogi and green onion. This was one gigantic portion too and I wonder how much it costs as it could be really good value depending on the price. Uniquely to Han Ba Tang, there is a tortilla on the bottom that soaks up all the goodness from above and makes finishing up this dish easier. What a good idea! They used lightly battered fries (kinda like Cavendish fries) which make it crispier than most poutines and a refreshing change. On top is a lot of bulgogi and kimchi which are great, but I feel like it would still be great without the bulgogi. I saw that there was this option on the menu as well. Regardless this fusion dish will be a crowd pleaser even for people that aren't that fond of kimchi and is a great dish to share.
We are only starting on the meal with less than half the featured dishes pictured in this post. Check back in two days for part 2!
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