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Apr 6, 2008 01:28 PM

Hankang korean, calgary, reviews? What to order?

Going to Hankang (across from Winston Churchill HS in NW) this Friday, 4 adults. We are new to Korean cuisine and would appreciate any suggestions, we are all pretty adventurous except for offal, feet etc!

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  1. Probably about two years ago I had a terrible experience there, and it confirmed my belief that good Korean restaurants in Cowtown are hard to come by - with my experience of many trips to Korea and meals there, being my basis for what I'd consider really good... But that particular night, I had a craving for some Korean food, but it happened to be Mother's Day (fortunately for my mom, she does not live in Calgary so did not have to endure this disappointing food evening). So calling ahead of our arrival, they said they could make a table for us, unfortunately it was right in the middle of the room as you come in the front entrance, as all other places were full for obvious reasons, which led to bone chilling wind coming in, every time the door was opened. It seemed to be popular with non-Asian families who comprised the majority of the customers, at least on this night. Knowing not to expect anything good from the menu of things I'd usually order, we thought we'd just stick with BBQ as how could they ruin that we said. What came out was a plate of still rock hard frozen, right out of the freezer, slices of curled up beef. Aside from the obvious bad presentation, the idea of having to cook ice solid meat just made my jaw drop, as I'd never had this happen to me in any Korean restaurant. The vegetable-based sides that one usually gets in Korean restaurants were all horrible too, with the kimchi being really inedible. Was it the business of the evening that caused all this chaos, I don't know. All I do know is that we stepped out after a fifty dollar bill shaking our heads (my dining companion was a native Korean) and vowing we'd never go back.

    18 Replies
    1. re: jay_kay

      Sounds like the meat at "mongolian grills." It's frozen solid but sliced super thin.

      OP, good and not-all-that-challening Korean dishes include bulgogi, dagagogi, kalbi, and bibimbap. None have offal and all done right are perfectly delicious.

      jay_kay, there are some decent Korean places in "Cowtown."

      1. re: John Manzo

        The frozen meat they brought out to my table at Hankang was thicker, kalbi strips, but I certainly can envision those "Mongolian Grills" versions. It just added to my frustration as a) it would take longer to cook through, b) you could just see the moisture evaporating off.

        My experience with Korean restaurants in Calgary is limited to just here, Bow Bulgogi House (very basic room, ordinary menu and taste qualities IMHO), and Dae Jang Geum (probably the best of the lot, but service was always poor; and I'd more often be just doing shopping next door at the Korean grocery).

        I know a few others are around and have popped up in the city this past year or so, but no longer living there, I haven't had the chance to try them.

        1. re: jay_kay

          As a matter of interest, I work near 5th Avenue Place and in their Food Court their is a kiosk called Koroyo(Sp?) and I was wondering if they are considered to be a good representative of good Korean food?

          1. re: Hart50

            I don't think Koryo is representative of good Korean, but I do find it tasty. To me, Koryo tastes more like that generic "meat grilled in a darker sauce" kind of food you often get in food courts. It lacks the depth of flavour and attention to meat quality and heat I've tasted at a place like Bow Bulgogi House.

          2. re: jay_kay

            I can't think of any ethnic cuisine in Calgary that HASN'T improved over the last few years. Third most ethnically diverse (major) city in Canada right here.

            1. re: John Manzo

              Taiwanese - 3 years ago - Han's. Today....Han's.
              Indonesian. Trini fit the same bill too!

              Not trying to be a pessimist here, but just pointing out a few that might have slipped your mind. :)

              1. re: yen

                There's another taiwanese resto right in city centre- the space off the street that has seen too many places come and go- never eaten there but I know their menu is a little different from Han's- you're right about indonesian, we had one then two now back to one, and yep trini is back to the same two we had in 2000... but I just think back to 2000 when I moved here and it SEEMED that there was zero cheap sushi, hardly any Thai and (it seemed) very few falafel/Mideast places; this has improved... but yeah, we still are way too thin for Malaysian and there's not a single Singaporean place that I know of (as recent threads show these are both very big in Vancouver).

                1. re: John Manzo

                  Hmm, can you give me clearer directions? Menu is irrelevant - im Taiwanese, i'll negotiate :)

        2. re: jay_kay

          Weird dood. I've been to Hankang a couple of times with some big Korean fans, and it's been reasonable. I had no problems with the panchan, and the BBQ was pretty reasonable. The chicken, not as good as Bow BG, the kalbi was a bit too thick but had some nice flavour. We ordered a pajeon, and a dolsot beebimbap too and it was ok. At least the BBB was served in stone, and not stainless like at a lot of other places.

          I wouldnt say this is the pinnacle of Korean food, but certainly nothing as bad as you are relaying. It is always busy though, and the few nights we've been were 50% Korean families, or groups of young punks :)

          I've been to most Korean places in Calgary, and the only 3 i find edible are Bow, Hankang, and Dae Jang Geum, but it's insanely overpriced.

          Just my views..

          1. re: yen

            :) Like I said, it may have been the fact it was Mother's Day, they were swamped, their de-frosted supplies were gone and their kimchi stocks were old. I'm usually a two or three-strike guy on places everywhere I eat, but this one really bad and shocking experience probably will lead me never to try again. As you know Yen, I'm probably spoiled by my countless trips to Seoul and even Shin-Okubo in Tokyo for fabulous authentic Korean food, so YYC just will never cut it. :)

            1. re: jay_kay

              Snob! But you knew that already :)

              I'll judge after i go to Coquitlam.

              1. re: yen

                I'm sorry to hear about your experience jay_kay. I appreciate all the feedback and am thinking we'll give it a go.

                1. re: bmacdon

                  No worries. Hope your experience is better than mine was. :)

                2. re: yen

                  Coquitlam is far. Plenty of good joints on Robson too. :)

              2. re: yen

                We went to Korean Village (yes, total hole in the wall by the Mustard Seed) a few weeks ago, and I was pleasantly surprised. Can anyone tell me how the food there measures up to the other Korean places in town?

                1. re: alau2

                  I've been to Korean V for lunch several times, and i didnt find anything remarkable about the food. It wasnt as bad as Sushi BBQ Inn, or Seoul Korean BBQ, but i would prefer going to HK or Bow BBG.

                2. re: yen

                  I have been to Bow frequently, but it is not as good as it used to ever since owner changed. So I have been sticking to Dae Jang Geum on 10Ave SW. Dae Jang Geum has really good seafood pancake, dolsot beebibap and kalbi.I highly recommand these. Beebibap comes in a hot stone bowl, it's excellent in winter time. Some waitress can't speak English well, but I didn't have trouble explaining my order.
                  Where is Hankang, I never heard of it, is it in downtown??

                  1. re: calgarian

                    In the NW across from Churchill HS- says in the OP.

              3. Went there about three weeks ago. It was fine. Kalbi was excellent, the kimchi was very good, and everything came out very quickly. The potato panchan was quite interesting.

                In regards to bibimbap, only "dolsot bibimbap" comes in the heavy stone bowl, "dolsot" meaning "stone pot".

                The flavour of the food there is very home style. As a result, the hot pot we had was a little bland (needed more salt), but that's really the norm.

                Lots of Koreans and other asians in there the day I went. We came right when they opened and by the time we left the place was totally packed. Lots of take-out orders as well.

                Personally I think it's a tragedy that there's no soondufu places in town.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Shazam

                  I think you've brought up a good topic Shazam, as I agree with you that Korean restaurants in Calgary (of those I've been to anyhow), are really hurting when it comes to an even half decent soondufu dish. On that visit to Hankang, I didn't even bother looking at the menu for it as I held no hopes of it being any good. Interesting though, up in Edmonton you can find it done well at a place or two (B-Bim-Baab Restaurant comes to mind), and there are some solid examples in Vancouver too.

                  1. re: jay_kay

                    Unfortunately for me I've been totally spoiled by soondufu places whenever I go to LA. In my weaker moments I've mulled opening a soondufu focused restaurant here.

                2. Looking for an update as to whether you found Hankang any good. Am craving good Korean food and have plans to introduce a friend to Korean food this weekend. Any new recommendations? I've been to Korea and am not expecting to find authentic authentic, but you know, a place where I can be reasonably sure that my friend won't get sick. A wait is ok if it's good, we'll just get there early. Thanks.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CravingKoreanFood

                    We enjoyed it immensely, but it was my first Korean experience so I'm unable to compare it and I can't even name the dishes we ordered. I can comment on the following; the main dish portions were substantial, the sides which seem to arrive at every table were sooo tasty, although next time I would order more of them for a table of four. The restaurant was mostly full; just a couple of empty tables; this was a Friday between 6 and 7:30 pm. The owners(?)/servers were very pleasant and took time to answer all our questions. Oh and the wine; we ordered one glass each of the house red. It was served almost full to the brim, probably a good 7 - 8 oz? It wasn't the best house wine ;) but for $5, it was darn good value.
                    Finally, I try to eat as gluten-free as possible, so I was thrilled to discover their noodles which are made from sweet potato starch, I've also heard them referred to as glass noodles (they are "clear" when cooked). I now purchase them at the Korean grocery close to the restaurant.
                    We will definitely go back to Hankang.

                    1. re: CravingKoreanFood

                      It's fine. Your friend won't get sick. If you live in the SW, i'd prefer to go to Bow Bulgogi, but i have no problems eating at Hangkang.