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Mar 28, 2012 11:32 AM

DTW Chow alert: Hankuk Oriental Grocery & Restaurant (long)

Discovered this little gem on the eastside in Clinton Township, several months ago.

I'd been reading online reviews of Korean Bar-b-que for days, and out during a drive, noticed the small shop.

On that first visit, I studied the 19 item menu and settled on a soup called Duk Mandoo Guk--a Korean Dumpling soup with rice cakes, sea weed, and well-chopped fried egg in a beef broth. Gawd, that was a revelation. Now in my Top Five restaurant soups ever consumed. After that lunch I went from the spartan dining room into the grocery and asked a cheerful clerk to set me up with the ingredients that went into the soup so I could try to duplicate it at home.

Second visit back for lunch, I brought the dear wife. I had zeroed in on the DoaeGi-Bulgoki, Hot Spicy Barbequed Pork, my wife opted for the Soon-Tofu, Soft Bean Curd Soup. The four top we were sitting at resembled a rainbow explosion after the mains and the sides were set before us. "Pul-eese, this is too much food!" Have to make an aside here: this was only the second time I had eaten kimchi, and Hankuk's was terrific. My hot spicy barbequed pork was delightful, a couple of different flavor notes playing out with each bite. But...the dish wasn't spicy! I only surmized that the Halmuni in the kitchen took a look at me and decided I couldn't take the heat. So, next time...

My wife is a soup maven, so she delighted in the soft bean curd soup. She confessed that she was looking to go safe in her first venture at a Korean table, and she came away very pleased with her choice.

So today I appeared at Hankuk's door intent on sampling the restaurant's Bibim-bab. This Korean, almost Signature dish came to me eye appealing in every way. And again, the go-withs flooded the table space. I liked everything about this dish, described in english on the menu as Vegetables to mix w/Rice. The three standout components (of eight total) were a most sprightly cucumber, a sampling of fern braken, and red pepper paste. Definitely deserves a re-order from me.

The grocery side of the storefront is chock-a-block with Korean and Oriental staples and refrigerated and freezer items. While browsing the aisles, you're sure to think that this place is The Real Deal based on the ethnicity of the other shoppers here.

The store and restaurant are owned and run by a most pleasant couple and their extended family. Anyone working the grocery is sure to offer great advice to novice hounds looking to take up Korean foods for at home consumption.

Hankuk Oriental Grocery & Restaurant
33717 S. Gratiot Ave.
Clinton Township, MI 48035

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  1. Wow! Can't wait until I'm over that way, RedTop. Sounds terrific!

    3 Replies
    1. re: boagman

      Excellent write up RedTop, thanks for the read, and for the memory refresher.

      Sir Boagman, Don't go in looking for terrific. This is not foodie Korean. It is Korean grandma made Korean food, from a little Westbend teflon electric skillet and a microwave, comparable to the (yummy) tuna casserole your grandma used to make with Campbell's condensed mushroom soup...but using the Korean cuisine equivalents. It's a dive, but the food is not fraudulent (NOT the Korean equivalent to "Chinese chop suey"). I'm sure millions of Koreans have grandmas who cook like Hankuk. I like this place, too, but just bear in mind that the recipes come from 1970s Seoul Good Housekeeping magazine Korean food recipes. Bless their hearts.

      1. re: VTB

        Thanks for tempering my view a bit, VTB. Being new to Korean foods I've come away from my experiences here with more exhuberance than knowledge of the cuisine. I'll have to go a bit farther afield to discover a few comparisons.

        But I sure do like those homemade dumplings!

        1. re: RedTop

          Ah...don't be so hard on them. I've tried fancy Korean and lunch counter Korean (lots of that in Ann Arbor) and I take this little "dive" over most of them. The family treats you well, and the mandu dumplings are all hand made. The owners did have other restaurants before-this is where a GI brought his korean bride. How many ex-military guys make sure their wife's have a grocery and restaurant to remind them of home?
          If this is granny cooking-I like it-I've been going to Hankuk for over 5 years now for my bi-bim-bop fix.
          PS-Anyone in Detroit remember the first korean place in Detroit-Koreana, which was at Gratiot near Seven Mile? Man, long gone-but I miss that place.