HAN BA TANG

Han Ba Tang

Within the past year, a few of the restaurants at Yonge and Sheppard have turned over. One of the newcomers is Han Ba Tang, who opened their doors on Canada Day this year. Since day one, the restaurant has been full and lively every time I walk by. When I received the invitation to sample their menu at a blogger event, I jumped on the opportunity.

Disclaimer: All drinks and dishes were provided free of charge by the restaurant. All opinions expressed below are wholly mine.

One of the highlights of the blogger night was meeting Han Ba Tang’s (HBT) owner, Chae, who immigrated to Canada over a decade ago and used to run a traditional Korean restaurant with her sister. After 10 years, Chae wanted to create food to feed a younger generation and introduce classic Korean flavours to everyone. This is the main aim behind HBT’s decor and ever-changing menu. The food is Korean fusion with 50% catering to traditional tastes (ie. kimchi and kalbi) and the other 50% playing with innovation (ie. lots of cheese and modern cooking techniques). Throughout the night, Chae introduced each dish with an obvious passion and care for feeding her customers.

That passion and care extended to the rugged, industrial look of the restaurant itself. The wood decor was salvaged from a barn roof and the large communal table featured beautiful live edges. There is no exterior signage because during renovation, discontinued glass tiles were uncovered and Chae wanted to preserve the history of the building. Pretty cool.

HBT has a great cocktail menu with an amazing price range of ~$10. Many of the drinks were built around their infused soju flavours. I tried the Kandy Crush, which was balanced, full of fresh strawberries and not overly sweet. Everyone else at my table also enjoyed their choices. Stand alone, soju is already pretty easy to drink; infused with flavour, it’s stellar. That night HBT had lemon, pineapple, cucumber, apple cinnamon, ginseng and strawberry infused soju flavours that could be ordered in a flight of 4 shots. The flight comes with another shotglass full of wasabi peas, which was a great pairing. My favourite was the apple cinnamon soju that tasted exactly like apple pie, followed closely by pineapple with was very sweet.

In total, we sampled 9 dishes, which was a lot of food. The first two dishes served, sweet potato chips and chili shrimp, set the night off to a good start. The chips were served with an addictive wasabi mayo and I liked the sweet/spicy combination. Similarly the chilli shrimp were also crispy and doused in a sweet and spicy sauce. Next were two fusion dishes, Korean Tacos and Kimchi Fries. I loved the spicy crispy pork taco that was exploding with spicy mayo, so good. HBT’s take on kimchi fries was complex with layers of flavours and textures. Top down, we started with fresh scallions, a basil aioli, bulgogi, a mild kimchi, crispy fries and at the very bottom, a crunchy fried tortilla. That tortilla was like finding the toy at the bottom of a cereal box, but more delicious. I would highly recommend both of these dishes.

We also sampled some special, seasonal menu items such as the steamed lobster (special lobster menu event to come) and squid ink pasta (from HBT’s Halloween menu). Both these dishes were a demonstration of HBT’s creative side and how they’re continuously trying new ideas. Personally, I found the squid ink pasta dish over complicated with too many components. The lobster dish was only ok but I’m excited to see what’s to come from HBT’s special lobster menu (coming soon!).

Two fusion dishes that we tried was the spicy chicken and rice cake fondue and spoon pizza. I liked the idea of both dishes but the execution on the cheese fondue was spotty. Our fondue pot didn’t do a great job of melting the cheese and we ended up scooping the stringy cheese onto the chicken with each bite. The spoon pizza was made with a sweet potato “crust”, filled with veggies and topped with cheese.

Our meal ended with the most traditional dish of the night, a spicy seafood soup that was full of chopped up blue crabs. I only wish the soup was served earlier as I was too full to enjoy more than one savoury bowl.

Han Ba Tang is a great new addition to the Yonge and Sheppard area with their tapas style menu that is perfect for sharing. I loved the infused soju and can’t wait to be back for more with an order of kimchi fries.

Han Ba TangHan Ba Tang
Han Ba TangHan Ba Tang
Han Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba TangHan Ba Tang
Han Ba Tang on Urbanspoon