We’re in two minds about Hanbando, a modern Korean restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s a popular place: we were given the choice of seatings at 6pm or 8.30pm and when we left at about 8pm, people were already waiting. It’s clear that the chefs are trying to modernise and lighten Korean cuisine.
The dishes have poetic names such as “when the sun rises at Jiri mountain” and “leaves turn red and yellow at Mt Seorak”, and there’s quite a lot of Korean fusion going on.
Mixed thin noodles with specially made soy sauce, cucumber, beetroot and quail egg (HK$88) was the perfect dish for whetting the appetite: light, cool and refreshing. Another noodle dish – seafood pasta (HK$78) tasted more Italian – we couldn’t detect the flavour of the gochujang (chilli-soybean based condiment) listed as one of the ingredients. it was slightly too sweet.
Beef tartare (HK$138) was lighter on the garlic than the yukhoe at other Korean restaurants, and although it needed a little more seasoning, it was still enjoyable. Sous-vide pork belly (HK$128) was disappointing: the meat tasted hammy (we strongly suspect it had been brined), and it was chewy, as if it had been cooked at too low a temperature, or not long enough.
We loved the snacky items. Fried kimbap (HK$98) was excellent – the perfect bar food, as was the crisp potato pancake with seafood (HK$108).
A word on the banchan (side dishes). They charge for it – HK$15 for a paltry portion of cabbage kimchi, or daikon, tomato and onion pickles. But if you order right, you could have the pickles as part of a dish – they came with the kimbap and a chicken and kimchi quesadilla (HK$138).
Hanbando 1/F, 8 Hau Fook Street, Tsim Sha Tsui, tel: 2369 7433. About HK$270 without drinks or the service charge.