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Han Ba Tang Part 2

Posted: 12/18/14

Han Ba Tang Part 2

Restaurant: Han_Ba_Tang Toronto

Nelson @Han_Ba_Tang #HBTpreview: The highlight of this experience is the infused soju. A nice touch is the fresh ingredient resting on top to indicate the soju flavour which are from left to right, apple cinnamon, pineapple, cucumber and ginseng.

Disclaimer: This meal was provided free of charge as part of a blogger media preview.

The most unique one was ginseng and that's the one I tried first. First, the alcohol is so smooth, but there was a bit of bitterness to it from the ginseng taste. Really creative drink and I quite liked it.

Next is the cucumber which had a really refreshing flavour that tasted strongly of cucumber, but it too was slightly bitter. Not surprising for an alcoholic drink yet it was very very smooth as well. I wonder what the final alcohol content of these drinks are.

The pineapple tasted as you would expect and was the most familiar soju flavour of them all. It was still very good though and yet again so very very smooth.

Lastly is the apple cinnamon, which was sweet and so delicious. It had more of a cinnamon flavour than apple, but tasted completely like fall. Once again it was so smooth that it didn't even taste like alcohol and tasted more like a dessert. Yum!

Our next main is the lobster which is steamed with a house sauce. The owner apologized about the quality of the lobster, which was not very good, but to concentrate instead on the presentation and sauce. I like how they grilled the lobster as that is a great preparation method when done right but it could not overcome the low quality lobster. The red pepper sauce was ok, but I feel that lobster doesn't need a complex sauce to be enjoyable. It was already flavoured with salt and lime and that is probably enough for me as long as the lobster quality is good, I would like it. This dish does present nicely though.
This the black squid ink pasta with mussels, house-made gochujang cream sauce topped with Korean beef cake. The beef cake is made from a high quality rib eye described by the owner as something to have on special occasions. I loved it. It was packed with flavour and had a soft tender texture. It was the best part of the dish and would go well with other dishes. The calamari was a little chewy and the ricotta that is sprinkled on didn't come through among the other stronger flavours in this dish. There were plenty of mussels, but all very small either because they were like that to begin with or they were overcooked a tad. But seriously, the beef was great.
Another fusion dish, this spicy chicken is combined with fondue. It is described as grilled chicken on a sizzling plate with a mix of rice cakes, onions and carrots with a side of creamy cheese fondue. The cheese separated and became very stringy and difficult to eat, but I guess that is normal for a fondue. The chicken dish itself is a very familiar Korean dish which I love. I can see why these two would go together well, but something about the spiciness of the chicken combined with the very subtle taste of the cheese contrasted too much. I suppose the cheese adds some richness to the chicken dish which is a good direction to go in.
This appropriately named dish is called spoon pizza where a spoon is necessary to eat it. It has a mashed sweet potato crust with vegetables, tomato sauce and topped with cheese and bacon (or kimchi). I have never had a dish like this and really enjoyed it. I thought the thick layer of cheese was a little much compared to how much sweet potato was there, but that is better than the reverse situation. This new dish to me was one of my favourites, but had I been there as a regular patron I probably would never had thought to try it.
Finally here comes the spice! This is normally served with ramen which would go perfectly with this broth. This spicy seafood soup contains generous amounts of shrimp, mussels and crab. The spice here makes up for all that was lacking in the previous dishes. This time the calamari was great and the other seafood was not overcooked either. The seafood flavour really came through in this dish and my dining companions really enjoyed this despite being quite full from all the previous dishes. The seafood somehow managed to retain some of its natural sweetness despite the strong spices used in the broth. If I had to order just one dish to fill me up here in the winter, this one just might be it.
Lastly is the dessert which had deep fried battered persimmon. It wasn't too sweet and had a lot of different textures that played with your senses. It also had cranberry and chocolate among many different ingredients. This was a very creative dish that I would not expect to come from an Asian owned restaurant and would fit right in at any high end dining establishment.

Overall, I think Han Ba Tang does a good job bringing fusion Korean food to the Toronto dining scene. For me, what stands out is the infused soju as I had only had the mixed fruit soju drinks before at Korean bars. This is a vastly superior alternative. The food is creative with modern twists on some classic Korean dishes. I like how they are constantly trying to improve as this is still a cuisine niche that can be explored further. I'm looking forward to my next visit as a paying customer.

Han Ba Tang on Urbanspoon


Categories: Beef,  Chicken,  Crab,  Dessert,  Drinks,  Korean,  Lobster,  Pasta,  Pizza,  Seafood,  Spicy,  

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