Thursday, October 23, 2014

Han Ba Tang - traditional Korean food with a modern twist!

Great music? Check. Innovative drinks? Check. Unique food? Check.

If you're looking for a new place to drink or just to hang out with friends and catch up over good food then head to Han Ba Tang (HBT) - a newly opened Korean restaurant and bar. They feature traditional ingredients with a modern twist and very innovative drinks!  Han Ba Tang actually means "one full round" in Korean. Whether it's a full found of eating, drinking, laughing, playing.. HBT promises a good time. We were invited for a blogger preview of the food and man, I can't say enough good things about this place!

Han Ba Tang
Where: 4862 Yonge Street
Price: $ (You can easily spend just $15 per person and be full!)

Let’s talk about the interior first of all. HBT preserved the old building history (which by the way was from before World War II!). From the bare exposed brick wall to the chalk board signs to the worn-and-torn tiled floor, the theme of the restaurant comes off as awfully cozy for an industrial vintage restaurant.. Mismatching hooks are placed on the walls and table for your bags and coat. Outlets are placed around the perimeter of the restaurant for ease of phone charging. 

What I seriously love about this place is that they careful into every small detail - water is served in these adorable mason jars! Pay a visit to the bathroom and see that this industrial theme carries to the bathroom where wrenches replace door handles and pipes replace toilet paper holders. 

Cocktail menu
Okay, HOW cool do these drinks sound? HBT knows how to appeal to the younger generation with fun names such as "Party like a Rockstar" and S*** Disturber. BTW, their sangria is always a hit!

HBT Crispy Chili Shrimp Tacos
Crispy Chili Shrimp Tacos - $4 for one or 3 for $10
These tacos are HBT’s best sellers and we could see why! One particular thing we noticed is that, while the flavouring and seasoning was on point, we found it over powered the shrimp flavour. Despite this, these shrimp tacos were easily our favourite of the variety we had.

HBT Tacos 2014 ($10)
HBT Tacos 2014 (Kalbi Taco, Chicken Breast Taco and Asparagus Taco) $10
Um so hands down, the kalbi was the best! Wasn't a huge fan of the asparagus taco but its a good addition for any vegetarians visiting. The chicken breast was a little underwhelming but only because the kalbi was so good in comparison!

Kimchi Fries!
Kimchi Fries ($8) + Bulgogi ($3)
Kimchi fries is a recent dish that has taken Toronto by storm. We honestly believed we had tasted the best at Banh Mi Boys...until we went to Han Ba Tang. HBT's rendition of these fries includes a housemade gravy topped with Japanese mayo, housemade kimchi and a generous toppping of bulgogi. The kimchi is way more authentic than Banh Mi Boys and its actually SPICY unlike BMB (although some people at our table agreed it could be spicier). If you want to try kimchi fries that could rival BMB, you must try this!
Spicy BBQ Chicken ($9) + Cheese Fondue (+$3)

Dip it in the cheese fondue..

Or pour it directly over top!
Spicy Chicken ($9.00) with cheese fondue (+$3)
This was the table’s favourite dish of the night. It was basically a huge dish with a mix of rice cakes, spicy barbecue chicken, onions and carrots. The cheese fondue is optional but we much preferred it with it as it gave the flavour another dimension. Dip it in or mix it it's up to you but we found that mixing it in tasted better :) What is it with Korean food and cheese that just tastes SO good? 

Candy Crush Cocktail
Named after the popular smartphone game, Candy Crush, this cocktail is a perfect blend of sweet and tart. Mixed with their house made strawberry infused soju as well as a number of different liquers. It reminded of us a tart strawberry jam with a huge alcoholic kick at the end! 

Spoon Pizza ($9)

Okay, check out that cheese string action - how can you say no to that?
Spoon Pizza (Bacon or kimchi available) - $8
Spoon Pizza is a very popular dish in Korea and is essentially a pizza - but a mashed sweet potato base replaces the crust. As the name suggests, you “spoon” the pizza and it is a ooey gooey dish of delicious tomato, cheesey and vegetables. It is the ultimate comfort food and we could easily picture ourselves eating this on a cold, chilly day. We HIGHLY recommend this dish because it is simply so unique! We have never seen such a thing before at any other Korean restaurant before!

Shrimps, mussels, crabs, oh my!
Jjambbong Ramyun - $10 for a small, $18 for a large
Jjambbong (or Champong as it is sometimes seen on menus) is a popular Korean spicy seafood noodle soup served, in this case, with ramyun noodles. At first sip you can taste an incredible amount of seafood in the soup. To match, there is a generous amount of seafood in the dish including shrimp, mussels and CRAB. Yes, crab!! In terms of the size, the first night we came we had 4 people share the large and it was MORE than enough to fill us. 2 people could easily eat the large and be full from just that!

New Apple Cinnamon Soju Drink!
This was a tester drink where they got the idea from a customer. First of all, can we talk about how they really value input from their customers and actually take it into consideration? Mad props and respect for that!! 

Secondly, we seriously hope they will keep this drink on the menu because it is unlike anything I've ever tasted before. You can still taste the soju (which by the way is infused with apples and cinnamon sticks). This drink reminded me of a really clean apple pie and was absolutely my favourite drink of the night.

Cutlet Combo Board (Deep fried pork cutlet, fish cutlet and shrimp cutlet) - $20
Finally, this enormous platter was the final dish and this could easily fill up 4-6 people, if you plan on ordering it! The sauces paired up with with food on the board. There was minimal breading on the food and yet they managed to get it SO crispy! Without a doubt, their shrimp and fish were the best!!

Infused Soju - Soju Flight ($15 for 4 shots)
Infused Soju - $15 for a flight of 4 shots
One of the coolest things about HBT is that they make their own infused soju! This changes weekly as they infuse it themselves. At the time of our visit they had citrus (lemon/lime), strawberry, cucumber, pineapple, apple and cinnamon, ginseng and dates. Our favourites were easily the pineapple, strawberry, and apple and cinnamon (which, btw, tastes like an alcoholic apple pie!). The ginseng is more for someone who can really take a bitter drink!
Lastly, we got the chance to preview their Halloween menu which is FILLED with delicious and extremely creative food and drinks. 

Halloween Preview (Available October 24, 2014 - October 31, 2014)

The first dish that we previewed was this Spider Spaghetti! Made with squid ink fettuccine and a topped with a spider made of black olives. A spooky take on this Korean fusion dish.

Halloween Kimchi Fries

The decorative drink to the left is their Halloween special called "Vampire's Kiss". It's made with a layer of grenadine, blue curacao, strawberry-infused soju amongst other liquers. And in case you were wondering, yes it is served with the vampire teeth in it to own up to its name. 

One of our favourite previews of the night was this Charlie Brown themed dish. You all remember Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin? Well HBT has managed to make a miniature version of the Great Pumpkin and filled it with Ramyun and a delicious pesto sauce. Check out the demon design in the corner - now that is detailed presentation!

Han Ba Tang is first and foremost, a fusion restaurant and their drinks play up to that as well. Above is their take on the Mexican Bulldog except with Fruli and a blend of different liquers. When you get near the end of the drink, the liquers mix together and make the drink purple!

The Green Goblin. Before mixing (left) and after mixing (right)
Finally to top off the Halloween drinks - Green Goblin is a very unique drink that turns green (as the name suggests!). Now the swampwater green may be off putting, visually, but it is a surprisingly fruity drink! This caters more towards the ladies who want an alcoholic drink without that strong kick at the end because this literally tastes like juice! Green Goblin is also available in shot form - made the same way just in a smaller form :)

We will undoubtedly be back at this restaurant again (we've gone twice already!). HBT's hip and modern nature is a breath of fresh air in a neighborhood that prides itself on traditional Korean food. If you love Korean food and are looking for something different then RUN, don't walk, to Han Ba Tang. 
Thank you to Han Ba Tang for the amazing meal!!
Please note that food was for this media preview was provided by Han Ba Tang but all opinions are our own.

Han Ba Tang on Urbanspoon

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