12 Margaret Street
Moonee Ponds, VIC 3039
Most of you probably don’t know this, but I haven’t been on holiday since my last year of university. After all, in those last three (THREE!!!) years, I’ve had an awful lot to do – my pharmacy internship, registration exams, adjusting to being a pharmacist, and doing further study. As a result, it was only so surprising when I found myself going starting to go stir-crazy somewhere around April this year. Lucky for me, I have a holiday booked for July, so I only have to stay sane for one more month.
So where am I going? I’m headed to Korea for about 10 days, followed by another few days in Hong Kong, where I’ll have the privilege of attending Chris’ sister’s wedding! Naturally, I am mega excited – about the wedding, and about the copious amounts of new foods I’ll get to eat. In preparation for all that food, I’ve been doing a whole lot of reading on Korean cuisine, which inevitably led to cravings.
To sate those Korean Kravings, I decided on dinner at Hanspoon. In true Korean fashion, although the restaurant was small and humble, it was warmly and carefully decked out with lots of attention paid to the little details. In truly un-Korean fashion however, the meal did not come with complimentary banchan; the food had better be amazing to make up for this!
To start, we had a plate of Japchae ($18). The portion is smaller than I’d be used to for the price, but it was made up for by the ample amount of beef and veggies. Unfortunately the flavour was quite unremarkable, and I found myself hankering for some kimchi to liven things up.
Pork Belly Bossam ($23) is something you don’t see in Korean restaurants nearly enough. In fact, the first and last time I had it was at Kong BBQ, and that wasn’t even a ‘real’ bossam. The procession of grilled pork belly was delicious – melt-in-the-mouth tender with a drizzle of sweet soy over it.
Wrap a slice of pork (or three) in a lettuce leaf, top with some pickled veggies and spicy ssamjang paste, and get that all up in your gob!
Rounding out the evening of surprises was the Sweet Rice Pancake ($7), aka hotteok – something I’ve only come across in my reading. These crispy pancakes were sweetened with a combination of brown sugar and cinnamon, and garnished with crushed peanuts and honey. Eaten with the scoop of ice cream, this was an absolute treat; I’ll definitely be searching this out when I’m in Korea.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hanspoon; aside from all the familiar regulars, a good amount of liberty had been taken with the menu, with dishes like kimchi prawn pasta and Cajun chicken salad making appearances. As it turns out, although the dishes were definitely on the expensive side, it was also backed up by quality. But the lack of kimchi cut me deep. I like Hanspoon enough, but I’d like it even more if they served banchan like everyone else.
Rating: 12.5/20 – banchan blues.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.