Monday, July 14, 2008

Hae Kum Gang

20, Paul Castle,
Castle Street, Near Brigade Towers,
Ashoknagar, Bangalore - 5600025.
Phone : 41127730, 41127732
email :

Food: 3.25/5
Service: 3/5
Ambience: 2.5/5
Meal for 2: Rs 700

The food scene in Bangalore never ceases to amaze us. Where else would you find great Korean food, prepared true to its roots, miles away from its land of origin? Hae Kum Gang (named after a river in Korea), on Castle Street, pleasantly surprised us with the lovely cuisine of far away Korea.
Perched on the second level of a drab office building, one would not believe that this restaurant houses a cheerful and homely atmosphere - spilling over with Koreans, busy catching up with each other and with their ghar ka khana! A boisterous group of Korean students occupied the table next to ours and their spirit was infectious. Artefacts from and about Korea filled the simple and well lit dining area.


The staff was courteous and prompt though they hardly spoke any English (definitely room for improvement here). It was getting a bit difficult conversing with them which was when the owner, Mr Chi Jung Sik stepped in and was more than helpful with his suggestions.
Since we were totally clueless about Korean cuisine, he suggested the meal sets (with choices of chicken, seafood, beef, pork and vegetarian) which had a bit of everything that is part of a traditional Korean meal, something like our thalis.

Looks like Greek and Latin? - its actually Korean!

The chicken chulpan gui set had juicy chicken gui (grilled meat in Korean) presented on a sizzling plate (chulpan). And we really enjoyed slurping the outrageously tasty seafood broth that was part of the hemul jeon gol set (hemul means seafood). Rich and aromatic, with succulent pieces of fish, prawn, mussels, squid, shrimp and even crab - this broth alone can make for a wholesome meal even without the accompaniments.

Chicken chulpan gui set

Slurpy broth

Speaking of accompaniments, or banchan as they are known in Korea, the sets were served alongside spinach, sweetened baby potatoes, tofu, batter fried brinjal, vegetable soup and rice - all unlimited. Two kinds of kimchi (Chinese cabbage and radish) complete the meal. We heard that the kimchi is prepared fresh everyday and is also sold by the kilo.
Kimchi, a Korean staple made of fermented vegetables and spices, is traditionally eaten with rice and banchan. Spicy and tangy (sweeter variations are also found in certain regions of Korea) , it is probably Korea's best known food. In fact, the Koreans are so passionate about this food item that in 1986, a museum was established in Seoul to inform and educate the world about it!Thousands of foreigners were introduced to it for the first time during the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988!
Bulgogi is another popular meat dish in Korea made from marinated and barbecued beef. We had to give it a miss because we were stuffed (after all the broth and kimchi we gulped down!) but we are sure it is delicious.
We felt the dessert section was woefully inadequate considering that the rest of the menu was full of great choices. Ice creams in different flavours and a fruit dish with seasonal fruits in sugar syrup was all that was on offer.
Strictly for the adventurous foodie, this is the kind of place in Bangalore which will wake up your tastebuds. Jal meokkesseumnida (Bon Appetit) !

Did you know....................
........................that when taking photographs, South Koreans often use the word 'kimchi' in the same way as English speakers say 'cheese'?
........................that unlike the Chinese version, Korean chopsticks are medium length stainless steel rods that taper to a square blunted end, traditionally made of brass or silver? Koreans use a spoon for their rice and soup, and chopsticks for most other things at the table.
.......................that a segment of the population in Korea consume dog meat during the summer since it is believed to keep the body cool? Since 1984, selling dog meat has been illegal in South Korea. Dog meat manufacturing and processing are not allowed, but the order is sometimes ignored. And relax, Hae Kum Gang DOES NOT serve dog meat.