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Posted by Lorrie S on 03/07/2013
Hanjan has been getting such good reviews -- in the press and from friends -- that I was totally amped when we went to dinner last night. Perhaps my high expectations inevitably caused some disappointment. Don't get me wrong: the food is very good (the kitchen has an admirably light hand with fried dishes), the service was even better (lovely waitress!), and the place is comfortable and not deafeningly noisy. But there were also no fabulous surprises. The perilla jeon was well battered and fried, but had no outstanding flavor. Surprisingly, the kimchi duo had no news to offer: much more interesting versions are available at Kin Shop. The pork belly skewers were pretty tasty, but I expected more heat. My favorite (as seems generally true of everyone) was the scallion pancake, which is really great, and the portion is relatively large. But this calls to mind the other problem with Hanjan: although the prices seem low, the portions are so small that our bill ended up much higher than I had expected. In sum, a very good place to go if you are in the neighborhood, but not worth a detour.
Posted by Don't Fear the Ginger on 02/18/2013
Thanks to parent restaurant Danji, Hanjan has a lot to live up to. With too little creativity and too many shortcuts, Hanjan has it's work cut out for them. I went to Hanjan last night and was awestruck by the atmosphere. Larger than Danji's, this Chelsea location encompasses antique inspired lighting, chopstick holder made from rocks and the greatest long table in any NYC farm to table establishment. The architects and designers of this space should be proud! The food on the other hand, leaves something to be desired. The BBQ Galbi Skewers were tasty and straight forward, the flavors were nice but I kept waiting for that little unforeseen twist which never came. Too simple but with a little more work this could be a solid dish. I love the Scallion Pancake w. Local Squid, this modern take on a street food classic embodied the entire atmosphere of Hanjan, I would go back solely to enjoy this rustic version of a scallion pancake. This crispy pancake dipped into that spicy and acidic sauce parallels the phenomenon of eating tempura, it was unexpected and hands down the star of the meal! The Pork Fat 'Ddukbokki, Kimchi Pork & Tofu, and Noodles w. Spicy Squid were all the same dish! All had way too much of that outrageously sweet grocery store "Korean" sweet and spicy sauce. These three dishes were reminiscent of cheap Americanized Korean food. While I liked the texture of the noodles, I did not enjoy the tofu (it should have been softer), both from the same supplier in Queens, not made in house. The Korean Spicy Ramyun was a good dish. The impeccably cooked pork which topped the noodle soup was absolutely the best bite of the night! The noodles were good and broth was fine but needed more depth, for a dish that took 10 hours to stew, I didn't like the harshness given by the spice, maybe making this an 11 hour dish will mellow out the flavors? Still awaiting the wow factor.