Hanjan, which opened at the end of 2012, is the second restaurant of Chef Hooni Kim (Danji is the first). It calls itself a “Korean gastropub” and is serving up upscale Korean comfort food. It’s on Eater’s list of 38 essential restaurants of New York. It got a very good two-star review in the New York Times and a four-star review in Time Out. However, I only loved one of our six dishes. Two were nice and the other three were mediocre.
The menu is divided into traditional, modern, skewers and sides. We ordered two dishes from the “traditional” part of the menu:
* Crispy Perilla Leaf Dumplings with Shrimp and Pork
* Kimchi and Beef Brisket Fried Rice with Egg. (They were out of the mackerel and the seafood stew).
We ordered three dishes from the “modern” part of the menu:
* Atlantic Salmon Sashimi Salad
* Pork Fat Ddukbokki
* Grilled Chicken Wings
And from the skewers, we ordered:
*BBQ Galbi Short Rib.
We asked them to not bring the dishes out too fast and they did a good job of spacing things out. They brought the dishes out in an order based on temperature (cold first) and heartiness, in the following order:
The Salmon Sashimi Salad was a salad with a nice flavorful dressing and salmon which had very little flavor. These seem like two separate dishes and the salmon needs some oomph.
There was full disclosure on the dumplings: they were called crispy and they were, but they were also a little greasy and the only flavor was that of the perilla greens, which wasn’t much. If you didn’t read the name of the dish, you would never know they had shrimp and pork in them. I soaked them thoroughly in the dipping sauce to stimulate my taste buds.
The chicken wings were the biggest disappointment of the evening. OK, so I’m used to the chicken wings at Mission Chinese, or Pok Pok (especially made at home), or the wings at Distilled, and even at Pork Slope. These had no heat, no crunch, no gooey sweetness, no caramelized deliciousness, no buffalo sauce, no wet wipes–nothing. I always love some pickled daikon radish though.
Ddukbooki (also known as tteokbokki or topokki) are spicy rice cakes and this was the dish of the evening. I loved the consistency of the rice cakes, the yummy sauce and I liked including a bit of egg in the bites. This dish made it all worthwhile. At the top of the evening, the waiter suggests two to three dishes per person to share. I say forget sharing. Get one of these dishes for each person and call it a night.
Bulgogi means “fire meat” and usually refers to marinated meat. These short rib skewers were tasty enough. They were served with some crinkly lettuce. The meat is meant to be pulled off the skewers and wrapped in the lettuce.
This dish was pretty tasty–it might have been my second favorite dish of the even, but I didn’t love ending the meal with a big pot of fried rice and nothing else. Also, it was a little similar to the yummy rice cakes, egg included, but not quite as good.
Hanjan, 36 W. 26th Street (Between Broadway and Sixth Avenue)
They take reservations