What do you do when you’ve had a long week at work? Eat great food and get drunk with your coworkers. I met up with some of my old coworkers from my last job at Hanjan, a new, highly rated Korean restaurant in the flatiron. The concept is “inspired by the ‘joomak,’ an old Korean tavern that offered weary travelers good food, good drinks and a place to rest” according to their website. Many of the dishes are meant to “evoke Korean street markets that offer comfort food enjoyed by people in Korea in their everyday life”. Also according to the website, Hanjan chooses meat raised with no antibiotics or hormones. The fish is caught wild and they sue organic and local produce as much as possible.
We let Dave order for the table because not only had he been before, but he really loves and knows good Korean food. We started off with two bottles of soju, a Korean alcoholic drink typically made from rice or sweet potatoes; the house blend ’50 SeJu” and the raspberry flavored Bokbunja. Can’t say I was a fan of the latter, it reminded me of children’s cough medicine. And on top of that we all got a round of Makgeolli, unfiltered rice beer. This beer was really interesting, it’s mildly sweet and a foggy white color, but I don’t think I could drink more than one in a sitting. For food we started with selections from the “small to share – hot” section of the menu. Just be warned, the dishes from the “small plates” sections are truly very small. So if you plan on sharing anything from this section I definitely recommend getting at least a few. The fried handmade pork and chive dumplings and ddukbokki, spicy rice cakes made with pork fat and accompanied by fishcakes and a soft boiled egg. The dumplings were good, but undistinguishable from dumplings you would get anywhere else. But that ddukbokki was amazing. I would go back just for that.
For the second course we shared a few more small plates. The wild black edamame with spicy salt was good, but similar to the dumplings nothing special to edamame anywhere else. The spicy cured cod roe over rice with seaweed and sesame oil was very good, but it is pretty fishy for anyone who prefers their fish cooked. From there we added the garlic fried chicken with pickles which was so good, definitely recommend this one, but the portion size is small so don’t expect it to be your full meal. The skin was so flaky and crunchy and the meat inside was dark and tender. And we also got the haemul pajeon, a seafood and scallion pancake. This dish featured Montauk squid, bay scallops and mussels. It’s pretty large but you’ll still want to eat the entire thing.
Finally, we finished off with three main dishes, all of which I would highly recommend. The galbi-gui, or BBQ Wagyu short ribs with ssam set was very good. It’s served with lettuce wraps, ssamjang and scallion salad. The mul naengmyun, or buckwheat noodles in chilled meat broth, was served with beef brisket, cucumber and hard boiled egg. But I think the real star of the meal had to be the ggak-dugi bokkeum bap, or kimchi and beef brisket fried rice, topped with a fried egg. One Yelp post calls it “a combination you didn’t know existed but now you can’t live without”. I wasn’t even a huge fan of kimchi before I tried this and now I would go back for that alone. The bottom line is if you’re looking for good Korean food, Hanjan is the place. Just be ready to leave with your wallet a little lighter.