Hansul Korean Dining Bar: Contemporary Korean dining that opens till 6am!

Singapore's Korean Food scene has never been better. And we all know with the Koreans being the funnest bunch you can possibly befriend, the best way to end a riotous night out is at a Korean barbecue joint for soju, beer and meats grilled at the table. Self satisfied gluttony ensues and hopefully this ends off with a detour to the nearest karaoke bar to put your bathroom singing skills to good use.

Many places fit the bill but there's one new kid on the block that has caught my eye recently. Serving the most compelling sides and stews to accompany the gentle wisps of smoke rising from your sticks sunbathing on the hwaro charcoal grill.

Assorted Seaweed Salad - tossed with soy sauce and served with Korean dipping sauce
Top: Cook your own sticks on the Hwaro Charcoal Grill, Bottom L: Crispy Someon Fries tossed with truffle oil, R: Kimchi & Pork Stew
Between the sizzling meat, upbeat swing jazz music that somehow feels oddly right and servers zipping around the dining room, it's impossible not to fall under the spell. The Kimchi and Pork Stew ($25) comes appropriately portioned with it's boiling red depths hiding tender pork collar imbued in red hot spices, silky tofu, braised cabbage and instant noodles. The kimchi broth yielding none of that processed metallic sandy bite one would get from mediocre versions. This alone is definitely worth trekking over to Tanjong Pagar for.
#CheesePorn on the Soft Tofu Au Gratin
Notably well executed yet yielding a strange resemblance to pizza sans the bready base; the Soft Tofu Au Gratin ($14.90) combines soft tofu, kimchi, tomato meat sauce, minced beef and mozzarella cheese for that comfort food vibes, The only downside would be the hard shell of cheese that refuses to melt despite the vigorous bubbling. Well, that just makes for a darn delicious savory cracker of course. All the better!

Hansul Croquette ($8 for 3) teases three textures out of the bag. Piping hot golden shell gives way to creamy bechamel holding sweet bits of crab meat, lashings of butter for additional luscious effect and crunchy onion just to keep the package exciting. If you don't get this when visiting Hansul, you're missing the point. Trust me.

Top L: Korean Black Raspberries Makgeolli, R: Hansul Croquette, Bottom: Octopus Tempura
Drink options are aplenty at the Korean joint and we got down to swiftly to business first with their Peach Soju ($18), a significantly sweeter tipple that goes down so easily that you may forget that you are drinking alcohol! I much prefer the Korean Black Raspberry Makegeolli ($19) - a creamy beverage made from rice mixed with nuruk, a Korean fermentation starter. The result is milky and akin to an alcoholic version of yakult. This rendition is given a tangy edge with bokbunja or Korean black raspberry. A perfect companion to grilled meat skewers dipped in spicy gochujang sauce. Lovers of the Japanese Umeshu will come to appreciate the Seoljungmae ($22), a refined version of Soju with purer flavors and little abrasive alcoholic edge. Plums chocked all the way at the bottom make for a delectable boozy snack when the deed is done.

Hansul Croquette: stuffed with crabmeat, butter and onion
L: Basak Gamja Cheese Jeon, R: Pen Shell Clam Japchae

The innovative menu unweaves further with bunch of other sides that highlight the intricacies of Korean food while taking other cultural influences into mind. The Basak Gamja Cheese Jeon ($9.90) for one elevates the usual potato pancake. The crispy snack owing its depth of flavors to Parmesan cheese and the sunny side up egg plastered gorgeously in its center. Another highlight at Hansul Korean dining bar would have to be the Pen Shell Clam JapChae ($19.90) which offers an assault of textures right off the bat. Every textured bite smothered in rich seafood aroma.This is a must-have. 

But while the Kimchi stew and japchae are Hansul's claim to fame (for me), they specialise in a much-heralded selection of skewers that is barbecued- on a hwaro charcoal grill. Apparently this low and slow process is essential in bringing out the best quality of the meat. I digged the Pork Belly wrapped with King oyster Mushroom Skewers ($4) and Beef Shortrib boneless wrapped with Enoki Mushroom ($6), each one dissolving with ease due to the immense of fat enrobing the meat. Other interesting selections include the Pork Intestine Skewers ($5) and Long Legged Octopus Skewers ($8) which made for quite an interesting experience to unravel and ingest.

What truly separates Hansul from the numerous Korean joints lining the Tanjong Pagar stretch are both its ambiance and contemporary vibes of the menu. Aesthetic wise, it's spare and clean. No stainless steel vents hang from the ceilings, instead grill meats are done on the tables lining the walls, meaning that the stench of barbecued meats don't stick like deaths cloak to your clothes after the affair. Concrete floors, preserved walls and thick wooden high tables that wouldn't look out of place in a beer hall creates a smashing communal dining experience. This and the compelling menu which delivers on all fronts. It's all good, so grab a couple of friends and smash a couple of bottles of soju, because if you don't go all in, you're missing the point.

Hansul Korean Dining Bar
21 Tanjong Pagar Road
t: 6906 7088

Operating Hours:
Daily: 5pm - 6am

No comments: