Albeit considered doté, living in Malabe has its perks, for sure. That being said, it does have a few quirks as well. Because, apart from the fast-food chains, a couple of bakeries and more than enough kottu kadeys, there isn't much variety in terms of restaurants in this town. Which is why we were super glad to discover this newly opened Korean restaurant.
With its bright red and black walls and glass exterior, Hancook Kitchen is impossible to miss, and if you like Korean cuisine, it's definitely worth looking out for.
Hancook Kitchen isn't this giant-sized restaurant that has a bunch of floors for dining and private dining and whatnot. Instead, prepared to be faced with just one giant room with no more than 5 tables, with around 3 of them being dedicated to cooking your own food.
With bright red walls, squeaky clean black tables and mini TVs having food and K-pop programs on, the ambience at Hancook Kitchen was quite nice. It's one of the cleanest restaurants I've been to and they've somehow managed to maintain it so it looks like they opened yesterday or something.
Plus, they have their own water dispenser and a fancy glass oven typed thing which essentially allows anyone to take unlimited amounts of hot or cold water in already warm cups. Trust us, it's very cool.
Yep, that's their showcase. Don't worry, take a minute. Let it sink in a bit.
We're not entirely sure if it's made of plastic or they just happened to make those every day. But, what we do know is that if there was a competition for the prettiest showcase in Colombo, Hancook Kitchen will, no doubt beat every restaurant in the Western Province.
After gawking at the showcase for a good 30 seconds, we decided to choose which ones to get. Which is usually not much of a problem. But, exceptions must be made for instances like this where you want to get them all. We suggest straying your eyes away from the showcase and looking at the board above which has all the food neatly listed out with the prices.
Pretty as a picture, the Tuna Kimbap (Rs. 350) was a gorgeous set of 10 well made Korean Sushi Rolls that made us want to cry – but not in a bad way. It was just so beautiful, you know? See, you get this slight crunch from the green stuff we assume is gherkin and the tuna was nice and creamy with a tinge of oil. All combined with the sticky rice, this was brilliant. And don't let the picture fool you. The rolls were big enough to make you look like an idiot when you try to stuff the whole thing in your mouth.
Add a bit of the chilli sauce they served it with, you're bound to fall in love, we guarantee it.
We love bibimbap. And we love going to Korean restaurants because they have bibimbap. A bowl of rice with veggies, meat and egg all mixed up together to make the healthiest form of fried rice is something everyone should love. And the Bibimbap (Rs. 650) at Hancook Kitchen is probably the nicest one I have had.
Here's a list of reasons why this particular bibimbap earned a place in our hearts.
- Presentation: The bibimbap is served in a rather heavy instrument of iron and wood. With a big wooden box holding the iron bowl kind of like the way Rafiki held up Simba in The Lion King. That and the perfectly centred egg yolk on the egg, all added up to a definite 12/10.
- Lots of accompaniments: With at least 5 super fresh veggies involved in the process, all kept in the neatest way possible, and a surprise attack by the corned beef hiding under the egg… need we say more?
- The rice: See, thanks to the iron bowl, the food was warm. Not only was it warm, but the rice at the wall of the iron bowl was all crunchy because of the heat. Which, surprisingly, made the whole thing heaps better.
- The sauce: The sauce that accompanied the bibimbap at Hancook Kitchen wasn't like the generic bibimbap sauce we're used to. This, although watery, tasted a lot less synthetic and a lot more fresh than the ones we've had so far. Furthermore, it had enough flavour space for you to taste the accompaniments. All in all, this deserves a Huzzah.
We also happened to get a portion of the Seaweed Rice with Fried Chicken (Rs. 380 for regular) and an S&S Korean Fried Chicken (Rs. 780 for large).
The chicken was simply brilliant! A considerable amount of crispy chicken lying lathered up in a sugar/honey sauce that we couldn't stop eating. Sweet, spicy with small tinges of light tanginess going around, this was almost exactly like the lime and honey chicken at Nom Nom Asia, just in a larger portion.
The Seaweed Rice turned out to be this not-so-healthy portion of an oily, salty serving of white rice accompanied by a horde of thinly sliced seaweed. Again, while the portion looks small, it's very filling. Plus, the fact that it was so rich made it impossible to eat a lot of. Plus, it tasted a lot like soup cubes, which, we admit was a bit strange.
The batter-fried chicken, like the seaweed rice, was a mix of both good and bad. While the crumb coating was genuinely one of the nicest we've had, it was too thick for us to handle. The Chicken was cooked through but given the amount of batter, it tasted very piti (flour) like, and not chickeny enough.
We didn't encounter any problems regarding their service. The staff was reserved but helpful and managed to bring our food without much delay.
Needless to say, we loved it. This is one of the best bets in Colombo if you're craving for some superb Korean food. Plus, unlike some restaurants, it won't leave a dent in your wallet too.