Korean cuisine is very different to all other Asian food, even though there are a few inevitable ?stolen? dishes. The use of chilli is strong and common, their famous Kim Chi [cabbage leaves fermented with red chilli] even originating from the Chinese ?jeo? a thousand years ago. At the beginning of any Korean meal in a restaurant a number of small bowls are presented containing hot and sweet food almost all of which are of a vegetable origin, for you to snack on whilst awaiting your ordered selections. Kim Chi is always in one of those small bowls [my favourite when present is the sliced pickled lotus bulb]. Unlike the side dishes proffered in many Indian restaurants and then charged for, these are all complimentary. Only the Kim Chi and maybe one other side dish have some chilli heat, the others are usually contrastingly sweet and may include a small bowl of peanuts which tests your chopstick prowess! Kim Chi is also used as an ingredient in many other Korean dishes; stews, noodle and rice dishes.
Han Il has been one of Bali?s better Korean restaurants for many years, on The ByPass Ngurah Rai between Benoa and Kuta. Those premises have become another restaurant and Han Il has moved to a different site, also on The ByPass but in Sanur [Blanjong end] just after the renovated Koki?s, taking over the site of a previous Chinese restaurant, Shiang-Qu, that sadly did not work even though the food was very good and the prices were OK [one of those mysteries of the Bali food scene].
Just to confuse everyone, including me, last week the Han Il of Sanur changed its name to Arirang, but retains the same menu, staff and management of the old Han Il.
Gun Mandu is the Korean name for what the Japanese called Gyoza [even though it is based on a Chinese dish], steamed dumplings pan-fried on one side, always a great starter even though at Han Il they are listed at the back of the menu?
Bulgogi is great [marinated sliced beef that you cook yourself at the table] but here they also have pork and the chicken version which I prefer. It goes well with Pa Jeon, the onion omelette and the wild and spicy Fried Rice with Kim Chi, served in the manner that the Thais call ?wrapped in a blanket?, folded inside a thin omelette [pictured].
Their soups have plenty of body, meat [boneless rib, pork or beef] and rice in a thick broth sometimes with kim chi added [chilli marinated cabbage]. Different is their Den Jang Cige, a Korean miso with sliced pork. For the very hungry a bowl of steamed rice topped with sliced bulgogi beef and a fried egg. U Rek Mae Un Tang is a very spicy fish soup. For the very adventurous there is always Kob Chang Sui, roasted intestines!
Jeon are really omelettes although on the English translation of Korean menus they are usually referred to as Korean Pizzas or Korean Pancakes yet apart from the round flat shape bear no resemblance when it comes to taste. A variety of different ingredients [spring onion, kim chi, squid, other seafood or meats] are combined with an egg mix then served cross sliced like a pizza. My favourite Jeon is one of spring onion and sticky rice but I have not yet seen it on a Korean menu in Bali.
Dak Kang Jeng combines hot and sweet, chicken breast and meat from legs and wings. A longer than usual slowly cooked dish with the proverbial meat that melts in your mouth! Du Bu Jo Rim is layers of tofu simmered in a spicy sauce with sesame seeds sprinkled on top. Jok Bal is a wonderful dish, an incredibly large serve of de-boned pork hocks, cooked in soy and spices, amazingly tender chunks of meat. Jok Cim are pigs trotters steamed with vegetables.
Seafood dishes include stewed mackerel, Ko Deng O Jo Rim. Han Il in its new premises is purely an eating place, nothing elaborate. However the food is very traditional Korean cuisine and perfect for a small group of diners as many of the dishes are large servings and meant to be shared.
However as with most Asian cuisines there is no division between what we westerners refer to as starters and mains, in fact what we would normally begin a meal with are more likely to be only available as street food in their country of origin. As a result, even though some of these tasty snacks will be included on the menu the timing of their deliverance to the table, as with all other dishes ordered is determined purely by their kitchen preparation and processing time. So unless you stipulate differently, do not expect dishes to come in the sequence ordered. Sit back, relax and enjoy the taste explosion!