Wednesday, September 17, 2014

REVIEW | Han Ba Tang - tapas menu with traditional Korean ingredients & a modern twist in North York

Han Ba Tang (HBT) is a newly opened Korean fusion tapas restaurant and bar in the bustling Yonge and Sheppard neighbourhood.  With a read parking lot and steps to the Sheppard TTC station, it's in a very accessible location.  If you're in the area often, you probably already drove past or walked by the new addition  And, if you haven't already noticed, Han Ba Tang doesn't have a typical storefront sign and it's actually for a very good reason.

We live in a city with rapid modernization and while we love it, sometimes we forget and lose little bits and pieces of history. HBT has decided to preserve a little bit of history by keeping an old barber shop sign that was around from before World War II! Before you walk by and wonder why they don't have a sign, stop and take in and imagine what was there decades ago and then walk-in for some delicious Korean fusion tapas!

This concept of old-meets-new and "traditional with a modern twist" from the restaurant's exterior is just a hint of what you'll see from the restaurant's design as well as the menu offerings.

 One of the most popular cocktails on their menu is the Sangria (Pitcher $24/ Glass $9).
The first few glasses of the pitcher had a very strong wine taste and as we drank more the sangria, it became more fruity and sweet. It's a lovely drink to have at lunch or dinner with their tapas menu dishes.

Beef Salad ($9.00) with marinated Kalbi pieces, fresh greens, shredded radish, carrots, tomatoes, red onions & vinargrette

 Kalbi Tacos ($5.00 or 3 for $11.00)
The first thing we noticed with the tacos was the size. A lot of other taco places we've been to have on average smaller shells, which means ordering more to get full. At HBT, you can get 3 Kalbi tacos for $11 and with a few other side dishes, you will be pretty satisfied.

Crispy Chili Shrimp Tacos ($4.00 or 3 for 10.00)
  It is no wonder the shrimp tacos are one of HBT top sellers. It's seasoned very well, and not too spicy but enough kick to give the tacos flavour.

Spicy BBQ chicken ($9.00) with cheese fondue ($3.00)  
You can order the chicken dish on its own or add the cheese fondue with it. If you've already ordered a couple of cheese dishes, you may want to hold off on ordering the fondue as the chicken dish itself has enough flavour on its own.

 Spoon Pizza ($9.00)
We absolutely loved the concept of the spoon pizza which is a fairly popular trend in Korea. For those that may be a little bit carb sensitive, this option is perfect as it's made with a mashed sweet potato base and the rest of what makes pizza so great - cheese!

 Creamy Rice Cake ($10.00)
If you can put together carbonara and ddeokbokki together in one dish, you would get the creamy rice cake. Rice cake is pretty bland on its own so the cheese, herbs, and bacon pieces make a perfect companion to this dish.

Another example of HBT paying close attention to detail is their side of ginger... Although it may not seem like much, they took the time to realize that cheese dishes can become quite heavy after a few bites so they give you a side of ginger to cut the richness of the cream and cheese in some of their dishes.

Kimchi Tofu Cake ($10.00)
The tofu & kimchi dish is something you can find easily at other korean restaurants, however from the presentation here and the addition of steamed pork pieces, it's not what you'd expect. Take a piece of tofu, top it with a piece of pork and kimchi for a delicious bite of korea! It's one of my favourite accompanying dishes to soju and rice wine.

Jjambbong Ramyun
Served in a traditional brass soup pot, it doesn't get any better than this! Jjambbong is a popular Chinese style Korean spicy seafood noodle soup, but in this case, served with ramyun instead of traditional thicker noodles. There is a generous amount of seafood in this dish including shrimps and mussels as well as vegetables. This would be a perfect dish to have while you're drinking or on its own if you love spicy noodle soups.

Infused Soju (from left): strawberry, citrus, ginseng, cucumber and pineapple.
Most people have a love-hate relationship with Soju... for those that don't love it, the infused Soju makes for an easy transition. 

Another element we fell in love with at HBT was the decor. The interior of the restaurant is very eclectic and vintage but somehow manages to blend together so well. You can tell lots of planning went into the design of the restaurant even to the very last details including outlets to charge phones (and you know we love taking photos of our food).

Next time you're looking for a new spot to try, visit Han Ba Tang. Their unusual Korean fusion menu, decor and friendly service will make you a regular there in no time.  

They also offer lunch & drink specials:

Love Tacos? 3 tacos for $10 at lunch time
Love Soju? Enjoy $10 bottles on Mon/Tues/Wed
Love Beer? Enjoy $6 Sapporo pints or $16 pitchers &
$5 Rickards/Coors Light pints or $14 pitches EVERYDAY!

  -Our meal at this event was complimentary but opinions are our own-

Han Ba Tang on Urbanspoon

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