What takes a food experience into the next realm, is the emotion it evokes and the stories it tells. A truly special dining experience can bring to mind the first bite of a fondly remembered dish, or the ambience of a simple, cosy dining room can recall family meals at home.
At Hansik Goo, the idea of sharing a meal and serving authentic Korean flavours are two pillars that bring together a holistic dining experience. So much so that it had earned its first Michelin star this year, making it the first Korean restaurant into the Michelin Guide Hong Kong & Macau. It is also head chef Steve Lee’s first Michelin star since taking over the helm from successor and founding chef Mingoo Kang two years ago. The third pillar to this fast-rising local favourite is a modern touch that completes the circle.
Despite being Korean, Hansik Goo is chef Lee’s first Korean culinary experience. “Korean cuisine is my home food – I have the background, the memory and the palate. These help me bring together authentic Korean flavours, while my experience in western cuisine allows me to add a modern twist to it”, says Lee. Celebrating its second anniversary, we tuck into the restaurant’s tempting seasonal Korean flavours and the signature dishes that have won over the hearts of their diners over the last two years.
Kicking off our tasting menu with a delicate start, the Fish Mandu arrived with an intriguing composition. Serving seasonal blackthroat seaperch stuffed with pork and a generous layer of pork floss in cho-ganjang sauce, each bite offered an interesting combination of sweet, tangy and rich umami – gently delivered by the tender fish meat, and finished with the sensational pork floss that dissolves in the mouth.
Next to the table was the Korean Fried Chicken, a popular add-on to the seasonal menu and the hero dish that carried the eatery through the Covid-19 pandemic’s dining restrictions. At first bite, we understand why. Simple and homey, yet perfectly juicy and tender with the right balance of batter and meat – a rarity in the city. The deep fried chicken was paired with sparsely battered eggplant and drizzled with yuza jang which gave the dish a refreshingly deep flavour that remained light and not overwhelming to the palate.
We then shifted attention to the signature Samgye Risotto 2.0. Welcoming the season of morel mushroom in its iconic chicken roulade, the dish was completed with slices of steamed South African abalone sumptuously brushed with house-made Korean prickly-ash butter and coriander, and a serving of Ginseng infused glutinous rice. Cheekily referred to as ‘the risotto’, the rich flavours of each component stands out but also comes together in a harmonious combination of flavours.
Following up with the last main dish, the Pork Duo is laid across the table complete with a brass bowl of Yukhweh Bibimbap and a series of house-fermented and house-made condiments that added depth in flavour to the overall dish. Showcasing two types of grilled pork: ganjang Iberico pork chop and gochujang marinated pork neck, and served alongside a refreshing Dallae (wild rocambol, or garlic leaves), the house-made sauces recalls childhood and family dinners around the grill. A tender memory elevated by the bibimbap that was served with an assortment of fresh vegetables and mouth-watering beef tartare.
The best was saved next to last, with the arrival of chef Mingoo’s sensational signature dessert, Jang Trio. A creative composition of sweet crystallised Doenjang crème brÛlée, an ultra-light and airy home-made vanilla ice cream, and ganjang glazed pecan and gochujang powder as garnish – a perfect marriage of textures and flavours.
For the finalé, we were treated to Dagwa, a delicious assortment of refreshments to end the meal – with a touch of finesse to elevate the array of sweets. A warm sip of Korean mulberry leaf tea perfectly complimented a plate of savoury black sesame dasik, sweet yakgwa and strawberry jeonggwa. We ended our charming dinner at Hansik Goo with the kind of contentment that brings back the comforting warmth of home.
Hansik Goo. 1/F, The Wellington, 198 Wellington Street, Central. (852) 2798 8768. hansikgoo.hk
(Text & Photos: Roberliza Eugenio)