It was a hot August night and I found myself in midtown Manhattan wandering upon Han Bat, a Korean restaurant with an extensive menu and filled with people, Koreans and more. Rule of thumb on eating in a restaurant that you have not done any research on – look to see whether the restaurant is full and who are inside. This rule seems to work most of the time. I stopped in and was immediately seated. The restaurant was buzzing with energy; many middle-aged Korean waitresses were walking fast back and forth and giving directions to the bus boys. This could not be bad, could it? There were groups of Korean women coming in and out; there were groups of non-Koreans ordering very advanced Korean dishes and there was me- the Asian non-Korean types.Complimentary side dishes. From top left going counter-clockwise: spicy cucumber, kimchi, seaweed, bean sprouts and lettuces. The kimchi was too salty.Complimentary side dishes. From top left going counter-clockwise: bean sprouts, seaweed, greens, fish cake. Fish cake was very yummy and the bean sprouts were king (sweet, juicy and crunchy).Haemul Dolsot Bibimbap: Seafood, octopus , squid over rice in hot and spicy stone pot. # 50 on the menu. Yes, there are probably a hundred dishes on the menu. It took me a while to sort through. This has the making of all possible good things for me: I love bibimbap; I love octopus; I love seafood. It was meh. Meh. Meh. The burned rice at the bottom of the stone pot (Dolsot) was the best part of the meal. The sesame leaves on top added no value from my limited culinary perspective. The rest was nondescript. I ate because I was hungry.Soon Doo Boo Chi Gae: Soft bean curd with hot and spicy sauce. Seafood. # 6 from lunch special. This was an interesting experience. It came with an egg that is supposed to be cracked over the boiling soup. However, the egg came by itself on a dish with the complimentary dishes, without instruction. So the egg sat there until it dawn on me that it should go in the dish long after the soup came. By then, the soup was no longer hot. One of the middle-aged Korean waitress (mama san) saw it and took the entire dish back into the kitchen to heat it up. She came back with the boiling hot soup and then the egg was properly dropped into the soup. The service is outstanding! She insisted that the dish is served properly. The broth was delicious and spicy. The tofu was silky smooth. Drinking boiling soup on a summer night is an experience that makes you sweat!
In conclusion, Han Bat was ok. The place is obviously popular. The prices are very reasonable for a midtown location. The food is a hit or miss. I feel the chef was a bit rough with the food. The food is not very refined. A lot of salt. I had been to Han Bat once before and I recall I felt similarly. Would I return? Maybe – to try other dishes on the menu and see if my experience is consistent.
This experience took place at
53 W 35th St
New York, NY 10001
b/t Avenue Of The Americas & 5th Ave
Phone number (212) 629-5588