Despite this year’s challenging climate, Hansik Goo has made quite a splash with its daring opening amidst the pandemic waves that have swept across Hong Kong.
The first restaurant by acclaimed chef Mingoo Kang outside his native Korea, Hansik Goo, which literally means “Korean cuisine”, is a unique blend of royal cuisine, street food, home-cooked favourites and Buddhist temple staples all rolled up into one refined menu. The result is a comprehensive narrative of the diverse fabric of Korea, painted with elegant, sophisticated brushstrokes.
Chef Mingoo Kang was the youngest head chef of the Nobu brand, earning the prestigious title at the restaurant’s Bahamas location in 2013. He then went on to open Mingles in Seoul, which rose quickly to culinary fame with a two-Michelin-starred rating, currently the country’s highest-ranked restaurant on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The youthful 36-year-old chef is best known for his modern interpretations of Korean cuisine, while still adhering to tradition and the long-standing history of fermentation and seasoning using jang (sauces and pastes).
Our seven-course tasting menu ($780/person) began with bugak, or seasonal crisps, reminiscent of the sorts offered at Korean temples, although Hansik Goo’s rendition also includes non-vegetarian crisps made from fish skin and bottarga. Our favourite was the chilli version, which offered a mild zing on the palate.
The naengchae is a cold salad of octopus, fig, tomato, red onion and cucumber, tossed in a vinegary gochujang sauce. The octopus was succulent, and the fruit and veg were refreshing against the mildly spicy dressing.
We’re not big fans of beef tartare, but the Australian M5 Wagyu beef tartare with quail egg yolk, accompanied by fried lily bulb and Korean pear, was deliciously flavourful without any gamy aftertaste.
One of the hallmarks of Korean cuisine, the ginseng chicken soup is given a modern makeover with the inclusion of toothsome risotto topped with juicy chicken rolled within crisp chicken skin. Supposedly recommended to be eaten at the height of summer, we would gladly have this dish at any time of the year.
A duo of fritters (egg-battered snapper and seaweed prawn) arrived next alongside an addictive garlicky dipping sauce. The prawn fritter was packed full of flavour thanks to the onion, garlic and chive used, although the most pronounced taste was still that of seaweed.
Perhaps the most famous Korean export other than K-drama and “Gangnam Style”, the Korean fried chicken (+$148) was finger-lickin' good with its juicy, succulent dark meat interior and crisp, sweet yuzu-glazed exterior – a perfect indulgence, especially when coupled with the palate-cleansing yuzu-infused radish. Note that this dish was an add-on to the original tasting menu.
Another add-on was the seafood pancake (+$168), a classic Korean dish. The pancake was packed full of prawns and squid and had just enough batter to hold together the delicious combination without it being overwhelming doughy.
Cold buckwheat noodles dusted in perilla seeds, sesame and seaweed came with a plate of soft-boiled pork belly. Pickled cucumber added crunch and zest to the refreshing noodles.
We're always up for some pork belly, and Hansik Goo's version had just enough texture for a satisfying chew without melting apart too quickly. The side dish of radish strips with semi-dried cod and kimchi had an interesting textural contrast owing to the crunch of the pickled vegetable against the spongy, umami-packed fish.
Because one cannot end a meal like this with just one dessert, we opted to sample three, starting with the grain ice cream topped with olive oil, which strangely resembled hummus. The cinnamon granita with pear sorbet and dried persimmon was reminiscent of the classic palate-cleansing drink given at the end of a Korean meal, and the seasonal chestnut ice cream topped with crunchy wafers was perfect for autumn. It’s worth noting that the ice creams were rather mousse-like instead of the icy treats most people are used to.
Hansik Goo’s menu takes the classic flavours of comforting Korean cuisine and distils them into elegant, refined dishes. We like how Hansik Goo presents Korean cuisine in a modern spotlight.
2/F, 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, 2798 8768
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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