REVIEW | HANJAN | EDMONTON

 

If my recent trip to Seoul has taught me anything, it's that Koreans like to drink. Coffee culture and drinking culture are both very prominent and ingrained fixtures in society. You'll find a cafe (chain or independent) on every street corner, and if you're looking for something stronger, soju is sold in convenience stores and supermarkets for only a couple bucks a pop. So it comes to no surprise that there's a new Korean restaurant in Edmonton with this dual identity.

Hanjan, which translates to a drink, acts as a cafe in the morning (10:00 to 4:00) and transforms into a watering hole in the evening (5:00PM to midnight, 3:00AM on Fridays and Saturdays). The food is also different between morning and night, with a more playful Korean fusion menu (think bulgogi fries, galbi sliders) during lunch and more traditional fare being served up for dinner. 


Located southside (surprise, surprise) on 99th street, you'll find Hanjan just right of Izakaya Tomo. I met up with SC and KN on a Wednesday after work, and though we made a reservation, it probably wasn't necessary on a weekday. We were lead to a table but given the option to choose anywhere in the restaurant to sit. 


What sets Hanjan apart from other Korean restaurants around town is definitely the decor. It's a beautiful multi-floor space with patio umbrellas, hanging lights, and a touch of greenery to brighten up the dimly lit restaurant. Seating is plenty, with booth seats around the perimeter, tables, and private rooms available. Whoever designed the place deserves a well-deserved shout out -- it's the perfect cozy backdrop to linger and chat with friends.

As mentioned earlier, the dinner menu is pretty traditional Korean fare with a more modern presentation. The menu is split into starters, wokked dishes, deep-fried foods, grilled meats, stir-fried dishes, stews/soups, and other special menu items. To give some insight, they serve everything from ddukbokki to samgyeopsal to bibimbap and budaejjigae. Prices are a bit on the higher end but I'd say it's on par with other Korean restaurants.


The first item to arrive to our table was the galbi ($24.00), grilled marinated beef short ribs with shredded vegetables, served on a hot plate. The flavour was good but we found the meat to be a little chewy. A surprising highlight were the veggies, which were still crunchy and packing a bit of heat. 


SC really wanted their naengmyun ($16.00) which was a special menu feature for the summer. Naengmyun are cold noodles, served in a sweet, tangy, almost vinegary broth with meat, cucumbers, sliced radish, and a boiled egg. Slurping the thin, chewy noodles with the icy cold broth was really quite refreshing and perfect for the hot day. (It was especially fitting considering that their AC was also not working that night.)


The soondae ($22.00) came next and was served on a wooden board. For those who don't know what soondae is, it's the Korean equivalent of blood sausage. It's funny how they've omitted pork blood from the menu description, as it's described as a "Korean sausage made in house with pork, glass noodles, vegetables, and sesame oil; served with a side of seasoning salt." The mention of blood can make people squeamish I guess.

I've only tried soondae once at a street food cart in Seoul, so I only have that to compare to. The texture of this one was certainly more bouncier and loose which did make it seem more fresh. Soondae isn't my first choice on a menu but this one wasn't a bad pick.


Lastly from the savoury side of things, we got an order of the sweet + spicy fried chicken ($19.00). I'm a big fan of KFC (Korean fried chicken, that is) and found this to be a respectable rendition. The sticky sauce was hot enough to give my lips a bit of a tingle but it was certainly bearable in terms of heat. There was a mix of chicken cuts, as some pieces were boneless and others were not. We thought the chicken could've been crispier but it was probably due to the weight of the sauce (and our picture taking... oops).
 

Onto dessert! Hanjan's dessert menu offers up a total of seven options, including two waffles, honey butter bread, bungeoppang, and three different types of bingsu.

Bingsu, or Korean shaved ice, has been taking Edmonton by storm these days. In anticipation of two new bingsu dessert cafes opening up (Snowy Village and Snowy Dessert), bingsu reiterations are popping up everywhere, including at Dream TeaSeorak, and even Tutti Frutti. At Hanjan, bingsu options ($12.00) include injeolmi (rice cake), strawberry, and mango, which is what we chose.

For $12.00, I was expecting somewhat of a bigger portion but it was still a good size for sharing since we were already quite full. The mango shaved ice was topped with a generous amount of fresh mangoes, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and some condensed milk. The shaved ice was fine in texture and not very sweet on its own. You would have get a bit of everything to build the perfect bite.



From what I've read online, reviews on Hanjan have been mixed. To be fair, it's still early days for them (and you can't possibly expect a perfect experience on a slammed grand opening). I know service has been one of the main complaints but the service we received was courteous and attentive (thanks to handy service buttons located at every table). It may have also helped that we went on a slower weekday, but all in all, I do think Hanjan has a lot of potential to grow into a popular hangout spot just like their next door neighbour.


Hanjan
3735 99 St NW
Edmonton, AB
(587) 454-3333

Hanjan Korean Pocha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


- CT

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CT is a 23-year-old Edmontonian who started blogging as an excuse for taking pictures of her food.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." - Virginia Woolf