If you're a foodie, you probably don't mind having to cook your own meals. This is basically what dining at a Korean restaurant involves. Your order comes to the table unprepared, and you're given a grill to cook them to your liking. It's a pretty immersive experience, to say the least, and can be quite fun with a crowd or even on a date. We like Han Gook Gwan for its reasonable pricing, though we were served up some fishy sashimi, when we went for lunch.
Ordering is pretty simple. You go through the options of pork, cuttlefish, ox-tail and make your pick. Along with your order, you get an array of sides that come free of charge. These include kan kun, omelette, kimchi, peanuts, lettuce and onions, as well as a tofu soup.
Worthy of mention of these sides was the kimchi. The thing is, you don't get properly fermented kimchi at Korean restaurants in Sri Lanka. Still, the version we get here might be more suited to our palate. It's spicy, it's got a sour kick. It's got a good crunch. We like.
Kinita was particularly taken up by the soup. Very light and subtle with its flavour, it felt quite homely with soft chunks of tofu that worked well with the broth.
So we ordered Roast Pork Ribs (Rs 1000) though what we got were cuts of meat, with only one or two actual ribs and it was cold. Still, we got quite a lot of meat.
So this is where the fun starts. You fire up your grill and start placing the meat onto it. Then watch as it starts to sizzle and smell engulfs the table.
Oh, and we also got the Cuttlefish and Pork Mixed In Chili Paste (Rs 1300) which was the bomb. You pretty much have to stir fry this one, so you get a different cooking element.
It's got plenty of cabbage going on, but there's lots of cuttlefish and pork in there, too. The flavours are spicy and sweet, without being too sour, and they just work perfectly. The sweetness of the sauce and the fattyness of the pork is just right together, while the crunch of the cuttlefish keeps it fresh.
Last, and least, please don't order food from another cuisine at a restaurant. Kinita decided we needed some rice to go along with our orders and asked for the Sashimi and Vegetables on a Bed of Steamed Rice. What we were served were frozen chunks of fish that looked so off-coloured that we were nearly put off our lunch altogether. Needless to say, we didn't touch it.
With bright yellow walls and brighter white lights, this place doesn't feel too dodgy. It's actually kinda cute, and we saw quite a few women gathered quite comfortably. So it seems women-friendly. The waiters are fairly helpful but mostly stand far away near the kitchen, so you need to get their attention by flailing your arms. Don't holler. That's rude.
Han Gook Gwan , or Korean dining in general, is great for when you want to change things up and make food exciting again. You don't need to go shopping to cook a great meal, just let them provide the produce for you. It's a great spot for a group gathering, a family outing or even a date. Don't order sashimi, though.
Han Gook Gwan, or Korean dining in general, is great for when you want to change things up and make food exciting again.
Han Gook Gwan does a authentic take on Korean cuisine at a price that will keep you going back for more. If you're looking for a change from the usual Chinese eateries, give these guys a try. You'll most likely be walking away with a new found love for Korean cuisine.
The food at Han Gook Gwan is great – if you can get past the lingering smell of boiled meat and cabbage that haunts its halls. It's been around since the late 1980s, and it’s currently the only Korean restaurant left in the country. It isn’t a fancy place – there’s little to no décor, and it’s more of a Korean hangout that a restaurant catering to Sri Lankan customers.
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