Jump to content
silentbob

Han Gang, Korean at Little River Turnpike and Ravensworth Road in Annandale

Recommended Posts

DaRiv18,

The assorted BBQ you ordered is not supposed to be marinated. I just looked at the menu on the website and found out that it is assorted roasted beef. Koreans call it as 'roasted beef' but it is a different concept because they don't use oven so a big chunk of beef has to be sliced and cooked on the grill. It could be more like pieces of steak.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Grover. We had a pretty open mind ordering it, and thought it would be really really good. I think we were presented with about 25-30 oz of pre-cooked eatable beef. It wasn't marinated. Nothing really special about it though, but certainly not offensive. Fresh beef cooked at our table by the waitress. It is definitely just pieces of steak. Probably the safest choice on the menu for Americans who are dragged to the restaurant by their friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No discussion of Han Gang here in several months, for whatever reason. This is a brief report from a non-expert, having eaten here for the first time at dinner tonight.

Our experience did not begin well. We felt ignored for a good while after being seated. Then, when ordering, it seemed like we hit a bunch of resistance. You want just whiskey with no coca cola? Yes, please. Whiskey but nothing else in it but ice?! Yes, that's right. You really don't want that cold noodle dish with marinated fish (hwae naeng myun), it's very Korean. That's why we came to a Korean restaurant, I swear - to eat Korean food! And we have been to Korean restaurants before, yes we have. But you won't like it. We would like to try it, really, I mean it. No really, you really won't like it, 9 out of 10 people don't like it. Will you please bring it to us? We will bring you a small portion, how about that? Ok.

But the food made up for it. That cold noodle dish that we were supposed to not like, was especially great. As was a seafood and soft tofu stew. (You will not find it on the menu that is currently online, so I can't tell you the proper name of it right now.) And bibimbap, and scallops cooked on the table. As some others have mentioned before, the spread of side dishes, kimchi etc., is not as vast as at some restaurants, but it is very good.

And once the staff saw that we were actually enjoying the food (even the 9 year olds among us), they were very very nice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
soft tofu stew. (You will not find it on the menu that is currently online, so I can't tell you the proper name of it right now.)

Probably soon doo boo if it was spicy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our experience did not begin well. We felt ignored for a good while after being seated. Then, when ordering, it seemed like we hit a bunch of resistance. You want just whiskey with no coca cola? Yes, please. Whiskey but nothing else in it but ice?! Yes, that's right. You really don't want that cold noodle dish with marinated fish (hwae naeng myun), it's very Korean. That's why we came to a Korean restaurant, I swear - to eat Korean food! And we have been to Korean restaurants before, yes we have. But you won't like it. We would like to try it, really, I mean it. No really, you really won't like it, 9 out of 10 people don't like it. Will you please bring it to us? We will bring you a small portion, how about that? Ok.

I am not sure where the resistance comes from but I am sure it is very real. I've also not seen the "resistance" in other ethnic resturants. Most of the time it is not that persistant. I have gone to many korean meal with non-koreans and from time to time the waitstaff turns to me and say they won't like that. But I have never sat with a non-korean who said "I really don't like this" at a korean place either after ordering something.

I do think that korean food is very "safe" (see tyler cowen's article on safe (as in authentic not hygene) ethnic food). In most cases, the food has not been modified for the western tastes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a Korean-American guy, I've had the experience of sharing one of my childhood favorites with non-Korean friends who pretty much had to spit it out at the worst, stated their dislike at the least. Hwe-neng-myun (neng-myun in general) is definitely on the "not for everyone" list. It was extremely upsetting to see people hating something that you love so much, so I can relate to the server for being apprehensive, even overly so. Glad y'all enjoyed it though.

As for the food quality discussion, I won't speak for any other cuisine, but on the most part, when it comes to Korean food like kimchi, pa-jun, etc., I'd say the same thing about it as I would about coffee: people tend to be more forgiving about how they taste because it's foreign (Korean food) or commonly bitter and/or muddy (coffee). The fact is, they can and should taste good and balanced. Keep an open mind, but trust your taste buds. You don't have to be born Korean to know when kimchi is awesome. :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How funny, I (a non-Korean) have had this exact experience while dining with a Korean co-worker:

I have gone to many korean meal with non-koreans and from time to time the waitstaff turns to me and say they won't like that. But I have never sat with a non-korean who said "I really don't like this" at a korean place either after ordering something.

when trying to order this (just naeng myun):

Hwe-neng-myun (neng-myun in general) is definitely on the "not for everyone" list.

It took a bit of convincing on the part of my co-worker, but I did get what I ordered. And, while it wasn't my favorite thing, did enjoy it and was glad I tried it.

The other common anecdote seems to be related to people ordering kitfo in Ethiopian restaurants and it being served cooked, rather than raw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neng Myun is usually a summertime dish, isn't it? That was the reason I was given to dissuade me from ordering it once in the winter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Neng Myun is usually a summertime dish, isn't it? That was the reason I was given to dissuade me from ordering it once in the winter.

If you were born in a Northern Korean region, you would eat it in Wintertime.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were born in a Northern Korean region, you would eat it in Wintertime.

And if they didn't want people to order it, why put it on the menu?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you were born in a Northern Korean region, you would eat it in Wintertime.

My understanding is if you're in North Korea, you'd eat boiled shoe soles in the winter. Anyway, my Korean friend tells me that Koreans don't usually eat family style in restaurants? Is he out of his mind? By way of example, I told him when we (i.e., my family) order soon doo boo, it's always shared like any other soup but says most Koreans don't share. He thinks I'm nuts when I go to a Korean joint and end up ordering BBQ, pancake, japchae and soup.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dinner tonight showed that you need to prove that you're willing to eat what most typical Americans won't before you get the good stuff. Once you do, however, the staff enjoys watching you enjoy the meal.

When the first round of ban chan were delivered there was no kimchi and three of the four dishes were bland. A quick look at other tables showed we didn't get the good stuff. We quickly scarfed down the spicy eggplant, the only spicy ban chan and when our waitress returned to I asked for kimchi. She asked if we knew what it was and we assured her we did. The kimchi arrived with the full array of ban chan that other tables received.

We ordered the short ribs BBQ and the seafood hot pot for two. The short ribs were great and I loved using the radish instead of the lettuce. The hot pot had potential for greatness but the quality of the seafood kept it from getting there. The broth was layered with flavor and the perfect amount of spice. It was chock full of clams, half a lobster, scallop, octopus, shrimp, mussels, cod intestine (my new favorite), and some small, crunchy specimen that neither the waitress nor the manager knew how to translate into English. Unfortunately, a lot of the seafood was frozen which led to chewy clams and mussels and mushy lobster and scallops. Had all of the seafood been fresh this would be one hell of a dish.

Despite having to prove we really did want kimchi and the like and the frozen seafood, our meal was worth the shlep and when we can resist the lull of Honey Pig we will return.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The hot pot had potential for greatness but the quality of the seafood kept it from getting there.

And that, friends, is my main frustration with every Korean restaurant I've been to in Virginia. Beautiful, complex, energizing combinations of chili and funk, but nasty, mealy, off-tasting mussels and shrimp and chewy squid in the bottom of every stew-pot. For whatever reason, the clams and oysters are slightly better (at least at the Annandale Vit Goel).

What gives? And why does the Korean-American population put up with it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I live on the course at Pincrest, just a stones throw from these places and I still haven't tried any of them :) Partially because I am totally confused regarding some posts of people I feel are quite well versed in the Korean food arena and exactly becuase the one time I did try one of the...the seafood was SUB PAR :lol:

I'm still willing though :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My impression is that there are better deals around, but it is a very comfortable and clean environment. Great ventilation, you won't smell like your meal once you leave.

Mine too. The furniture wasn't sticky and there wasn't any residual smoky/oily feeling about the place. We went a few weeks ago and enjoyed it, but I think that there are better values to be had on the strip, especially since I have pretty simple tastes and usually want a selection of tofu stew. We had a galbi plate, a bowl of bi bim bap, and the vegetarian pancake. There were a lot of wonderful panchan (full array for two asain girls, though neither of us are actually Korean) that were fresh, spicy, and complementary. I especially liked the eggplant, greens, and the little fishes. The main dishes were good, as others have described above, but we didn't care for the pancake at all. Quite heavy, with a polenta-ish texture, and not much flavor - very off-putting. Our service was slow but steady, and we did get the gratis clear soup to start and milky sweet soup to finish. So I'd say a good Korean place to take the parents or newbies for its atmosphere, wide-ranging menu, and fresh meats, but stick to the smaller places for everyday.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
the gratis clear soup to start and milky sweet soup to finish.

Oh my! Sweet soup? Nah, that's rice, not soup. Should have a couple of pine nuts floating around as well as small pieces of rice in the bottom. Clear soup? Almost every Korean restaurant serves miso, but a few serve seaweed ji-gae. I don't remember what we had when we ate there (I know we reviewed this place and that review is somewhere near the top but I haven't gone back to read it yet), but what did the clear soup taste like? I'm curious as to what they're serving.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my! Sweet soup? Nah, that's rice, not soup. Should have a couple of pine nuts floating around as well as small pieces of rice in the bottom. Clear soup? Almost every Korean restaurant serves miso, but a few serve seaweed ji-gae. I don't remember what we had when we ate there (I know we reviewed this place and that review is somewhere near the top but I haven't gone back to read it yet), but what did the clear soup taste like? I'm curious as to what they're serving.

Ha, I don't really remember, and wasn't paying much attention since I didn't care for either, but my friend thinks the starter was some bland (not really sweet or salty) sesame pudding-ish thing, and to finish it was a clear (so not milky, I was probably projecting my hatred of Chinese milky ice desserts)), cool, sweetish perhaps ginger drink. Any idea what they were?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha, I don't really remember, and wasn't paying much attention since I didn't care for either, but my friend thinks the starter was some bland (not really sweet or salty) sesame pudding-ish thing, and to finish it was a clear (so not milky, I was probably projecting my hatred of Chinese milky ice desserts)), cool, sweetish perhaps ginger drink. Any idea what they were?

The latter, sweet clear drink sounds like sikhye, a chilled rice drink that (in my experience) is flavored by ginger. It usually has a few grains of rice and some pine nuts in it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The latter, sweet clear drink sounds like sikhye, a chilled rice drink that (in my experience) is flavored by ginger. It usually has a few grains of rice and some pine nuts in it.

Sounds about right, though ours didn't have any floaties that I recall.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ha, I don't really remember, and wasn't paying much attention since I didn't care for either, but my friend thinks the starter was some bland (not really sweet or salty) sesame pudding-ish thing, and to finish it was a clear (so not milky, I was probably projecting my hatred of Chinese milky ice desserts)), cool, sweetish perhaps ginger drink. Any idea what they were?

The ending drink was shih-ke which is clear and made from rice and barley sprouts. I have no idea what the starter was (and I'm not that excited about Han Gang that I want to go eat dinner there to find out B)).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lady Kibbee and I were passing through the Annandale area at dinnertime, and decided to give Han Gang a try. Although the food was good, with solid flavors and tetures, the prices were outrageous. I won't make the Han Gang mistake again.

We didn't order the table cooking -- most of the entrees were in the $35 - $45 range! The amuse was a small soup of Japanese pumpkin, which was pleasant but not very interesting. We had the sashimi appetizer, about enough for one person for $25, and the single fried soft shell crab appetizer for $15. The table full of nice panchan would have completed a small meal for two at still too high a price, but we added seafood bibimbap and spicy udon noodles with squid. Both dishes were well executed, and I love the crispy rice that forms at the bottom of the bibimbap stone bowl. But overall, the best adjective I can come up with is "good".

The shih-ke closer was a nice surprise, since I hadn't tried it before. But at $120 for the total tab with tax and tip, I won't be returning here for "good" food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both dishes were well executed, and I love the crispy rice that forms at the bottom of the bibimbap stone bowl.

Technical note (to save Escoffier and grover the trouble): plain old bibimbap comes in a ceramic bowl, but dolsot bibimbap comes in the hot stone, and is worth the small upcharge not only because it forms the tah-dihg thing, but also because it keeps it hot throughout the dinner (it actually gets hotter towards the bottom).

You can eat here more cheaply than this, but the prices are somewhat painful. I find that in general, Korean restaurants are priced all over the map, for no apparent logical reason. I think Han Gang has a sushi platter that costs over $100! A dish at a Korean restaurant might cost $45; another might cost $15, and it seems almost random. It's not a matter of sheer size, or rarity - I'm not sure why it is, but I am sure that I've noticed it around here for years and it makes no sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Went here for lunch because my senior partner who pays for lunch wanted Korean.  I figure Han Gang would still be good, if not the best in Annandale.  I briefly thought about taking him to Tok So Jip but I decided he's not really looking for that kind of authenticity.  We only order 2 dishes, which was more than enough for lunch.  The seafood pancake was superb - wonderful texture (a little crispy outside, not at all dense inside) and seasoning, with a variety of seafood (mostly squid ).  The galbi (short rib) was fatty in a good way - my boss was impressed with its tenderness.  It's more expensive than other joints, but I wasn't paying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Han Gang's website says they're reopening on Aug 3.

Screenshot 2020-07-29 at 18.08.52.png

Lest we forget the "prison ribs" that were once in this location. :) (That whole thread is really very funny, for people with a sense of humor.)

Wow, I *knew* I had written about this place before, but I couldn't find where - here it is.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...