Hahn's Kitchen at Gurugram: A taste of South Korea
Even though upwardly mobile urban Indians are today willing to experiment gastronomically, some cuisines still remain beyond the pale. Korean, for instance. Which is why Hahn's Kitchen comes as a pleasant surprise with its authentic South Korean food.
Now, when one thinks oriental cuisine, what usually comes to mind are noodles and garlic chicken -- but never a bibimbap (a South Korean mixed-rice dish with meat, vegetables, topped with a fried egg) or a samgyeopsal (chargrilled sliced pork belly).
But this 70-seater eatery located in the One Horizon Centre on Golf Course Road, will serve you these dishes and other South Korean delicacies.
Visited by the centre's corporates, South Korean expats and local food enthusiasts, Hahn's Kitchen boasts of an open kitchen and also three private dining rooms with a low table and cushions on the floor instead of chairs, a very traditional seating arrangement found in South Korean homes.
Another interesting feature here is the stainless steel chopsticks. Koreans use steel chopsticks instead of the wooden ones used by the Chinese or Japanese, a tradition followed by the kings who used silver chopsticks since the metal changes colour if the food was poisoned.
So the dishes that were served to me were the pork bibimbap, salted samgyeopsal, stir fried udon noodles with chicken, and two types of chef's special Korean-style sushi rolls -- volcano with grilled salmon, cucumber, chilli and tobio or flying fish row; ebi tempura with fried prawn, lettuce, onion, radish, cucumber, avocado -- and a large bowl of egg drop soup.
To start off, I was served an assortment of the kimchi (traditional Korean pickled cabbage) along with brown lotus stem, fried aubergine, gyeran mari (Korean rolled omelette) and steamed baby potatoes.
The other dishes were all brought at once to the table so the choice is completely up to the customer on how he/she wants to begin eating the food.
Since sushi is an absolute favourite, I started my Korean fare with the volcano and the ebi tempura rolls. Unlike the Japanese sushi, these rolls were very big, with a thicker portion of rice -- but they were absolutely delicious. These rolls cannot be eaten in one bite. The egg drop soup came very handy in washing it down.
Next came the samgyeopsal. The way to eat this chargrilled goodness is to take a lettuce leaf, spread a little ssamjang (thick sauce made of soy bean and chilli paste), add the pork and top with a good portion of sticky rice. The flavours of all the elements in this lettuce wrap could be independently tasted, nothing was overpowering.
So far, so good.
Next was what is known as the ultimate South Korean comfort food, the hearty bibimbap. A mixed rice bowl topped with juicy pieces of sliced pork, zucchini, mushroom, spinach and a fried egg served with a bowl of jjigae (spicy soup made with vegetable, soy sauce, fermented shrimp paste and soy bean and chilli paste). The soup, however, is on the acquired taste; so please taste a spoonful before mixing it into your bibimbap.
The last dish was the stir fried udon or thick wheat flour noodles. Unlike other noodle dishes, the pieces of chicken were quite big and crispy, almost the size of a KFC boneless chicken strip. This dish could be given a miss.
There are no desserts in the menu since the South Koreans do not end their meal with any sweet dish. Also, Hahn's Kitchen does not serve alcohol.
Tasting new cuisines is always an adventure and Hahn's Kitchen definitely provides one such experience.
T1-101, First Floor, One Horizon Centre, Golf Course Road, Gurugram
12 noon to 11 p.m.
Price for two:
Rs 1,800 (approx)