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Korean with a passion

Hanyang's menu may be small, but the dishes are hearty and beautifully prepared

Published on July 29, 2007

If you're out in the Ratchadaphisek area near Viphavadi-Rangsit, you can satisfy any cravings you may have for Korean cuisine by dropping by Hanyang Korean Food at the SCB Park Plaza.

Hanyang has been open for around three years, but it was only recently that its new owner, Kunmin Kevin Lee, decided to take it to new levels.

The menu was no problem. Though formerly in the computer industry, Lee had been trained in the culinary arts by his mother - who, he says, is easily the best Korean chef he's met. With a brother running a restaurant in Seoul, he's also had a bit of experience on the business side.

To Hanyang, he brings passion and sensibility, importing whatever necessary to ensure that the taste of the dishes is up to his (and his mother's) high standards.

Stoneware bowls and platters designed to keep the food sizzling hot, the rice cooker, even the chilli paste have been imported from South Korea. That chilli paste, however, is distinctive - garlic, apple, pear, pepper and honey is added before it gets to the table in Hanyang.

Order any dish, and the waiter immediately brings out a collection of "pre-appetisers", small dishes of steamed and fried vegetables, all the raw garlic you can eat, bean sauce and, of course, that well-loved Korean pickle kimchi. The bean sauce is produced in the Hanyang kitchen, slow-cooked for eight hours or so. The tasty kimchi, too, is home made.

For the moment, the menu is small with dishes that will please both carnivores and vegetarians. Appetisers are listed at the beginning and drinks at the end.

"Koreans don't divide a meal into courses the way Westerners do," Lee explains.

Even so, the range of dishes on offer is extensive, ranging from the Guljulpan (Korean-style hors d'oeuvres, Bt400) to Japchae (fried vegetables with vermicelli, Bt140). There's the Dwegi gochujang gui (broiled pork with garlic, red chilli paste and other seasonings, Bt250) and the Dolsot bibimbap (boiled rice and assorted vegetables served with a red chilli paste in a hot stone bowl, Bt180).

Lee says that he's keeping prices reasonable because the majority of his customers are office workers. Wine is not on offer, but you can bring your own and there isn't a corkage charge. He does offer some very powerful soju (Korean liquor, Bt250).

However, Lee promises an expanded menu in a week or so. He also has dreams of expanding, but for now, he wants to ensure that quality is maintained. His mother would definitely approve.

Laurie Rosenthal

The Nation

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