Many Hongkongers are in love with Korean food, the moment I reveal(?) my identity as Korean, I start getting bombarded with a flurry of questions like, where to go for Korean BBQ. While there are quite a few good Korean BBQ places in HK, Korean food is not all about BBQ, just as Sushi doesn’t represent diverse Japanese cuisine.
Below are some of great finds where we Koreans love to visit for no-frills, good Korean food. These are all great, but they specialize in different types of food, so simply grab one of your choice, depending on your mood today.
1. Arirang (3F, W Square, 314-322 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)
Arirang is the place to go whenever I have a craving for Korean food at a comfortable, down-to-earth setting. While more and more unique, fun places offering fusion Korean food are popping up throughout the city, I still think food at Arirang is one of the most authentic kinds. Its menu option is very extensive, running the gamut from simple “Sundubu Jjigae”(spicy Beancurd soup), “Bibimbab”(mixed vegetable rice) to all types of BBQ and Korean hotpot, you just name it.
Weekday lunch set provides a good bargain with its price dropping to almost 50%, but the real fun part comes at dinner time, where you can find more group diners, a “bomb shot” (aka “Poktanju”, a mixed drink) and a lot of laughter. Try “Seafood pancake”, “Spicy beancurd soup” and “Mixed vegetable rice”, which also go well with Korean BBQ here. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)
2. Hwaduk (21/F, Cubus, 1 Hoi Ping Road, Causeway Bay)
Hwaduk is sort of way fancier version of usual Korean fried chicken place that you might find in Korea. From the moment I dined at Hwaduk, which opened less than two years ago, I have been a big fan of Hwaduk with the quality of its “Oven Roasted Chicken” (not fried!) and all other dishes, even “Gorgonzola pizza with honey” tasted better than any other pizzerias.
Perched on the 21st floor of this restaurant-filled elegant Cubus Building, Hwaduk is a perfect place to quench your chicken craving (pairing with a jar of fruit Sangria and this is a heaven). Hwaduk Chicken comes with very healthy and tasty green salad on the side, no matter what flavor of chicken you order. Health-conscious ingredient and cooking methods are definitely an added bonus that can hardly be matched by others. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)
3. Moyo (36 Aberdeen Street, Central)
“Burrata & Fig in Modena balsamic vinegar” or “Cacio pepe e noci rice cakes” doesn’t sound like your typical Korean dish, however this Korean chef trained in Italy has been doing so good for creating amazing Korean-Italian fusion food. As Korean myself, I don’t usually eat at Korean-fusion restaurants but Moyo‘s creative menu incorporating familiar flavor with foreign ingredient is worthwhile to try.
This place is especially good for 20,30ish-youngsters’ group gathering due especially to its boisterous ambience in this small central outpost. Most of the patrons(over 90%) were Korean when I visited Moyo last two times. (Taste 4.5/ Ambience 3.5/ Service 4/ Price 4.5/Value 4)
4. Itaewon(G/F, Kiu Fung Mansion, 14-18C Austin Avenue, Tsim Sha Tsui)
Itaewon, here we go. This is the place where you should head to when you are in the mood for Korean BBQ. Quality meat and side dishes (aka “banchan”) will make your whole BBQ experience so satisfying, easily compensating for a bit of difficulty locating this restaurant from Tsim Sha Tsui mtr station. Itaewon is great for group dining, virtually in all age groups.(Taste 4.5/ Ambience 4/ Service 4.5/ Price 4/Value 4.5)
5. Jangdok(G/F, 188-190 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai)
Pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food at a very reasonable price in this newly opened Korean restaurant. While few of the patrons are Korean, Jangdok delivers higher degree of authenticity in their food. So it can be a good alternative to other Korean restaurants if you want to have a quick, easy Korean meal. Jangdok is truly a bang for the buck and its track record is already proven at its prior Jordan location. Worthwhile to try if you happen to be in the area and want to save time and money. (Taste 4/ Ambience 3/ Service 4/ Price 3/Value 4)
Verdict: I have been to Arirang more than 15 times and Hwaduk 10 times on various occasions but it is in Korea where you can taste the best Korean food, stating the obvious. It is only a 3.5 hour-flight from HK and you can enjoy amazing Korean food feast at around 1/3 price (in Seoul) and even less (in other cities) than you would pay for in HK. The diversity and quality of Korean food is unrivalled. So why not planning your trip to Korea for your next food adventure?