Like many people, one of my favourite things to do is spend time with friends. And often, that means going out for dinner, drinks and a lot of great conversation. So we’re always looking for new – or new-to-us – restaurants to try. Of course, we often go back to certain places that we love but it’s fun to explore Toronto’s restaurant, bar and pub scene because we have some good places here.
Recently, one of the places I visited was Han Ba Tang – and I’m wishing I went earlier because both Jenn and I loved it.
Han Ba Tang is a Korean fusion restaurant/bar that has a blend of fusion dishes like Korean tacos and modern versions of traditional Korean dishes like galbi jjim. They also have an interesting drink menu with some cocktails that vary from traditional to fun inventions. And something I’d love to try the next time I go back, they have soju flights of their in-house infused soju.
What We Tried
Pretty much any time I see kimchi fries on a menu, I have to try it so it was the first dish we chose. Then after consulting the menu and asking our helpful server for recommendations, we added galbi jjim (갈비찜, braised marinated beef short ribs) – I dish I love but rarely make at home – and spicy chicken. All three dishes were shared between us as that’s how we often eat out.
And after looking at their cocktail list on a giant black board, we both knew we needed to try one of those too. Luckily our helpful server was full of drink recommendations and I ended up going with one of his recommendations for me, while Jenn ordered a Mojito.
We went on a Saturday night and there was a 45 minute wait which isn’t unusual so I’d recommend reservations. Jenn left her cell phone number and we went to a nearby café to kill time and chat, and sooner than we expected Jenn was contacted to let us know our table was up. Which was at the bar but since there was only two of us, it wasn’t an issue and I always find it interesting to watch bartenders. That being said, the stools weren’t the most comfortable when balancing a purse.
I have to say that hands down, one of my favourite things about Han Ba Tang was the service. Huge props to our server because he was knowledgeable and super helpful. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the food first.
The kimchi fries were good, as was the extra bulgogi (불고기, grilled marinated beef) we had added as an extra to them. Both Jenn and I agreed that they were among the best kimchi fries we’ve tried. And like I said, I pretty much always try kimchi fries when I see them on a menu – I may not always like fusion food but I like fries and I like kimchi so the idea of them together as sort of a Korean version of poutine rocks my boat. I’d definitely order them again. FYI – the small was perfect for sharing between the two of us.
The galbi jjim was cooked just right so that it simply fell off the bone. The flavour was good – a solid dish that was made just a little more interesting with the garnish, especially the walnuts which were a nice compliment to the flavour and texture of the dish. Again, another dish I’d order again.
The spicy chicken was a little disappointing. Not bad per se but there were less rice cakes than I was expecting in it and it wasn’t particularly spicy. The flavour was okay but I would have liked a little more kick to it (and rice cakes). But I suspect that those who don’t have my love of spicy food might disagree. The small was a good size for the two of us sharing with other dishes but would have been too small if it was our sole dish.
As for drinks, I loved mine as the flavours suited my palate perfectly and I’d definitely order it again.
Unfortunately, Jenn didn’t like her drink – it was too sweet for her (and me, but then I don’t like sweet drinks). But this was when my opinion of the place went from good to amazing. Because Jenn was just going to order a shot of soju to add to the drink to hopefully dilute the sweetness but our helpful server wasn’t happy that she wasn’t happy and insisted on making her a different drink, more suited to her taste. That gesture of customer service not only made our night but will guarantee that we both go back and bring our friends (and write a positive review, lol). She liked the second drink, a Whisky Sour.
Other than the fact that it’s geographically far from my neighbourhood, it’s a great Korean-fusion restaurant bar and one I’d visit again. And since many of my friends live in North York, I’m sure we’ll be back – we’ll just make a reservation the next time. I loved the service, liked the food – which was great for sharing and perfect for when we’re chatting over drinks – and they had interesting cocktails and a fun atmosphere. All in all, those add up to a good place to spend a night out with friends.