Han Ba Tang is known for Korean fusion tapas, and this year they are offering a multi-course Valentine’s menu once again! Couples will be served a 4-course menu with choice of entrée, and since last year was such a success, they are offering the Valentine’s menu from Feb 12-15 instead of only on the 14th for $35/person. We had the pleasure of trying this menu in advance and also meeting Chae, the owner, and her head chef JJ Shin to learn more about the concept. JJ had just returned from an internship in Korea at a 2 Michelin star restaurant before putting together this menu, so we were excited to experience more refined Korean fusion dishes.
Starting with the appetizers, we had the Dongchimi which was a radish water kimchi chilled soup with slices of radish, shrimp and konyaku. The soup itself was slightly tart, clear and refreshing, with flavours that tasted like they were infused overnight. The other ingredients in the soup complemented perfectly. The radishes were crisp and crunchy, while the konyaku noodle were chewy little cubes – a genius combination! Definitely something we would expect from a high-end restaurant.
The spicy salmon tartare was also a winner. The salmon was marinated in gochujang, a Korean red chili paste which is slightly sweet and spicy. The additions of the tot (Korean seaweed) and crown daisy greens were excellent as well. The seaweed and delicate fried rice paper provided a crunchier texture which was contrasting to the soft raw salmon. Fun fact: “tot” is the Korean name for this seaweed as there’s no English word for it! This seaweed is rare and was brought over from Korea for this dish.
On to the entrees, we tried both the TteokKalbi and Maesangee Jook with Seafood. The tteokKalbi may look like a couple of hamburger patties on a dish, but the patties are ground from high quality cuts (short rib, striploin) and was traditionally served in the royal courts for the King. The meat was cooked medium and was incredibly juicy, moist and tender with a hint of sweetness. The mushrooms also had very strong flavours, however the potato puree was on the sweet side, especially since the Tteokkalbi was already sweet itself.
The Maesangee Jook with Seafood paled in comparison to the TteokKalbi, however the presentation was beautiful. Peeling off the layers of radish revealed a stunning dish of grilled octopus and sous vide fish with mussels on top of a seaweed porridge. The octopus was well cooked, however we felt that it could be charred more on the outside. The fish was very moist, soft and cooked perfectly. The seaweed porridge was on the bland side.
For dessert, we had the Doragi Ice Cream on Brownie Cake. This homemade ice cream was made from button flower root which looks like ginseng. Surprisingly, this subtle, earthy flavor made a delicious ice cream to pair with something sweet and decadent. Unfortunately, the brownie cake was a little dry and bland, and the pickled cucumbers seemed out of place. So much potential with this dish but the execution was lacking.
At the end of the evening, we thanked Chae and JJ and provided feedback for our meal. Chae is dedicated to constantly evolving the menu (the menu changed 7 times during their first year of opening!) so we’re confident that that these dishes have already improved since our visit. We always look forward to trying the creative, new items that Han Ba Tang creates. Thank you to Acorn Communications for organizing the event and Han Ba Tang for having us!
Our meal at Han Ba Tang was complimentary but opinions are our own.