Thursday, December 17, 2020


My complacency got me into a mini crisis when I found myself not able to get a table anywhere for our annual celebration meal - got no one to blame but myself for thinking no one's going out for dinner on a Friday night. Thank God my friend E came to rescue with a confirmed dinner booking at one of her restaurants at the last minute - it sure was a lifesaver, or at the very least, kept me out of the doghouse for the day. 

I have long been wanting to visit Hansik Goo, off-shoot of the Seoul-based Mingles by Chef Mingoo Kang, anyway but tables were hard to come by since they opened a few months ago. So I was double delighted to be able to visit at last. Have heard great things about the restaurant - hence the popularity - with a contemporary approach to fine-dining Korean cuisine, something which sounded unique to us. The restaurant sits inside the building at the corner of Wellington Street and Lyndhurst Terrace and serves a single 7-course tasting menu which changes regularly based on season, with a small a la carte menu for add-on dishes inside the dining area which I would describe as minimalist modern.

We started with Bugak, with a combination of chips made from seaweed, chilies and fish skin served in a bamboo basket. I love the subtle difference in tastes in each of them, with the chilies the most interesting of all with just a slight kick. The chilled appetizer of Naengchae arrived at the same time, which was octopus and vegetables with Chogochujiang sauce. I love the zesty flavor of kumquat skin and pulp combining well with the sweet and spicy sauce tossed with the rest of the ingredients. 

Yukhoe was served in the traditional way, with the Australian wagyu meat served raw with quail egg yolk on top, and on the side, deep-fried jerusalem artichoke chips and julienned pears. The textures were excellent and the beef flavor came out nicely. The Samgye Risotto was a twist to the Ginseng Chicken Soup often found in local Korean restaurants, except this time it's served as grain risotto with chicken roulade. The soup has a milder flavor but tasty and the chicken was great - brined and cooked sous-vide in 65 degrees then seared in pan to crisp up the skin for the contrast in tender and crunchy textures. The Korean glutinous rice cooked a la risotto came with a nice bite too and went well with the soup. On the side was a small plate of 2-year-aged kimchi, which worked great as accompaniment or on its own, adding a hint of acidity.

The Jeon course was described as "Chef's Choice Seasonal Fritters", and on the night we went, it's sea bream and minced pork and vegetables, both of which dipped into a light egg and flour batter and pan-fried. On their own the flavor is a bit mild, but they worked fine with the dipping sauce and pickled onions served on the side. The restaurant team then sent us 2 comped dishes from the add-on menu - both of which we liked. The Nokdu Jeon was the style of Korean pancakes made with grounded mungbean batter. It's done thick with a crispy crust and shrimps mixed into the batter. 

There's no lack of Korean Fried Chicken in just about everywhere around town, but this version was particularly memorable with just the right crispiness with the sides of lotus root cut in thick chunks. The glaze, made with yuzu and gojujang, was sweet and tangy rather than overly spicy. It came with generous portion too - it's definitely made to be shared family style when combined with the tasting menu dishes. 

The final savory course was actually two dishes served at the same time but separately. In one dish was the pork belly (Suyuk) with octopus salad (Saengchae) served with a dark soybean sauce, and in the bowl was Mak Guksu, cold buckwheat noodles with seaweed and sesame paste. The noodles were definitely the one I preferred, with the bouncy noodles mixed with the aromatic dark paste with a hint of nutty flavor. And I am still thinking what would have made the pork dish more interesting, maybe something like a bossam style with more choices of condiments?  

There was a choice of dessert course and the staff decided to bring us both to share. The pear sorbet was creamier than I thought with a mildly sweet flavor, and the grains ice cream was another surprise, with the soft and creamy custard which didn't quite look like the conventional ice cream served with olive oil on top and puffy rice crisp on the side. Both were tasty. 

Was tempted to go for one of the traditional Korean alcoholic drinks on the menu, but at the end we went for a Riesling as I felt like the menu called for something white and off-dry. Ripe and refreshing, a mild nose, borderline dry and lots of candied lemon and pear on the palate. Not as mineral as I would think despite the name. 

Overall, a very pleasant meal that met our heightened expectations and offered something cheerful, casual, and different. Perfectly appropriate for the night of special celebration. Having a shot at adding to the two Michelin stars the chef already had at his restaurant in Seoul, perhaps? Time will tell. 

When? December 4 2020
Where? Hansik Goo, 2/F 8 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Menu Highlights? Samgye Risotto - Ginseng Chicken Risotto with 2-years Kimchi
Drinks? 2017 Weingut Keller Riesling Kabinett Limestone

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