Friday, March 23, 2018

Han Wa Dam (Seoul, SOUTH KOREA) ★★★☆☆

I was held up by the remarkably slow service at Block Burger and when I finally arrived at Han Wa Dam (한와담), I was already an hour late. Not surprisingly, my table was already taken and the hostess hinted that I could be in for a long wait as a walk-in customer.

The good news is, there are three branches of Han Wa Dam in Hannam-dong and each of them are just less than 50 metres apart. Of course, it sucks not to have my Korean barbecued Hanwoo beef tonight but at least, I still have an option of having the same beef cooked in a slightly different style (like an American steak or pan-fried Korean-style).

Like Han Wa Dam's flagship Korean barbecue restaurant I just visited, this branch called Han Wa Dam Black (와담 블랙) was also jam packed.

And everyone was all locked in on their house specialty - aged premium Korean beef.

So what's the difference between Han Wa Dam (flagship) and Han Wa Dam Black? Well, both restaurants serve the very same beef, just that the former uses traditional Korean charcoal grill while the latter cooks them on a frying pan.

Some Korean vegetable side dishes, or banchan along with different sauces for the beef (mustard, ketchup, wasabi and Korean chili paste).

Then, some onion, garlic, asparagus and mushrooms.....

As usual, I got myself two different cuts so I could compare the different textures and flavors.

Aged tenderloin (150g)(43,000 won) - I left these to the capable hands of my young server (chef?).

Within minutes, the pan-fried tenderloin was ready to be served. This was very tender although it lacked a strong beef flavor. It also didn't have the same marbling as Kobe beef (though Hanwoo is often being compared to Kobe beef).

Aged top sirloin cap of heifer (150g)(66,000 won) - This is the ultimate question. Do heifers (cows that have not borne a calf, or have borne only one calf.) produce better tasting beef? I honestly couldn't tell the difference.

However, one thing was certain. A heifer costs a lot more on the menu but I was curious of the results so I gave it a shot. This one was a little more tender (but still the lack of beef flavor) yet the difference was really minimal.

Some random thoughts on my dinner tonight (and Hannam-dong in general):-
  • Hannam-dong is really getting more and more interesting with all these small cafés and restaurants (The first Tartine from San Francisco also chose to open here). 
  • The walk from (and to) Hannam Station is a killer. Better take a cab next time.
  • I really wasn't impressed with the pan-fried Hanwoo beef tonight. There's just something about charcoal grill beef that brings out the best from the Hanwoo. I was really missing the smoky flavors from the charred meat.
  • I thought what I had at Two Plus was significantly better. It could be the chargrill effect. I don't know.
  • I will most definitely go back to Two Plus next time for my Hanwoo beef, since the prices were more or less the same.

Food Rating: 5.5/10
Price: ₩₩₩₩
Address: 261-6 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Closest Metro Station: Hannam (Expect at least a 20-minute walk, if you walk really fast)
Tel: +82 2749-1105

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