Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Hangari Kalgooksu (Garden Grove, CA)

Hangari Kalgooksu Restaurant
9916 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Wed 09/10/2014, 08:35p-09:55p

Hangari Kalgooksu Exterior

One of the more random meals of recent times went down when an unexpected craving for Korean landed me at Hangari Kalgooksu in Garden Grove's Little Seoul district. The place opened 2000 (according to the lady who was working there), and as its name would imply, specializes in kalguksu, or knife-cut noodles.

Hangari Kalgooksu Interior
The space looks like a proper Korean restaurant with all that wood.

Hangari Kalgooksu Menu - English Hangari Kalgooksu Menu - Korean
As for Hangari Kalgooksu's menu, you of course have the namesake dish listed up top, joined by about a dozen or so other, mostly noodle-y items. Simple. Click for larger versions.

2014 Firestone Walker Opal
Given the pretty much nonexistent beverage selection here, I decided to do it BYOB style. My first drink was the 2014 Firestone Walker Opal, a refreshing saison that worked well with the food. Think light citrus-y notes intermingled with a bit of spice and a touch of farmhouse funk, finished with a tinge of bitterness.

Yeolmu Kimchi
Bori Bap
Hangari Kalgooksu is well-known for its kimchi, the young radish greens (yeolmu) variety in particular. A summertime treat, this one was delight, showing off all your spicy, pungent kimchi flavors, but with a very pleasing bite to it. Accompanying the dish was a serving of bori bap, or barley rice.

Yeolmu Kimchi & Bori Bap
The idea is to mix the yeolmu into the barley rice, add some sesame oil, gochujang, and enjoy. And enjoy we did, the mildness of the bori working as a perfect foil to the headiness of the kimchi.

2014 Tröegs Nugget Nectar
Our second beer was the 2014 Tröegs Nugget Nectar, which I likened to a cross between an amber ale and an IPA with its hop bitterness and strong citrus-y notes, joined by a palpable spice and countering malt presence.

Shrimp, Squid & Vegetables Tempura
Shrimp, Squid & Vegetables Tempura [$14.00]
Oddly enough, the restaurant's tempura also receives considerable acclaim, so we had to get our fill of course. We opted for the most luxurious preparation, which brought together shrimp, squid, bell pepper, onion, carrot, kabocha squash (danhobak), and Korean sweet potato (goguma). It was an impressive spread, and really tasty too, with each ingredient clearly conveyed, yet superbly balanced by the light, yet crisp batter. Even better when taken with a dab of soy-vinegar-chili.

Kal-guk-su [$8.99] | Warm noodles with seafood soup
Naturally, we had to give the place's namesake dish a twirl as well. Kalguksu's traditionally a summertime specialty, and features knife-cut flour noodles served in a special hangari pot. The noodles themselves were tender, yet slightly springy and quite satisfying, and went swimmingly with the dish's broth, a deeply aromatic liquid imbued with the essence of the ocean. A rich, comforting sort of dish, and for a bit more heat, you could even toss in some of the included chili paste.

2013 Allagash Midnight Brett
Our final beer here brought out a sour, the 2013 Allagash Midnight Brett. It wasn't quite as tart as I'd expected, giving up a noticeable fruity character and a surprising roasty/chocolate quality to pair with the funkiness of the yeast.

Ramen Duk-bok-ee
Ramen Duk-bok-ee [$8.99] | Ramen and rice cakes mixed with spicy sauce
Here we had tteokbokki, a staple dish of rice cake, fish cake, and two types of noodles (ramyeon and what I believe was dangmyeon), set in a red chili sauce. Think classic flavors of spicy and sweet, though the whole thing was a bit one-note. I would've liked egg or some more veggies thrown in here to provide more balance.

Fried Man-du
Fried Man-du [$9.00] | Fried dumplings
Last up were the fried gunmandu, a favorite of ours thanks to the dumplings' savory filling and delightfully crisp exteriors. Excellent with a dash of the same dipping sauce we used for the tempura above.

This ad hoc excursion turned out rather well, as we enjoyed a tasty, filling, and cheap meal that introduced me to the joys of kalguksu. Can't complain too much.

Since Hangari Kalgooksu didn't seem to offer any sort of dessert, we headed down the street to Frozen Bar for some ice cream.

Peach, Cookies 'n Cream, Rocky Road, Lavender Milk Tea
We opted for a Large [$4.55] with four flavors: Peach, Cookies 'n Cream, Rocky Road, and Lavender Milk Tea. It was a decently solid, though not outstanding quartet, with the Cookies 'n Cream being my favorite of the bunch.

Dipped Pop
We also went for a strawberry Dipped Pop [$3.00] with chocolate. The actual popsicle part was quite tasty, though we weren't quite as enthused with the chocolate coating.

2014 Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Udder Love
To pair with our ice creams, I opened a bottle of 2014 Beachwood BBQ & Brewing Udder Love, which was just released a few weeks ago. A hefty milk stout, this one was loaded with your classic coffee and chocolate flavors, but with the addition of a distinct lactic creaminess to round things out. Appropriately "dessert-y."


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Curious about your BYOB experiences. Obviously some places have a corkage which implies they have no problem with it, but for other places do you call ahead? Just simply ask when you arrive?

Just curious what the laws/regulations are. I've had some places mention they don't mind if we bring our own drinks, but I would think an ice cream shop would hold issue with me just cracking open a beer.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm liking all the beer you've been having lately. Nice change from the usual wine suspects.

Thursday, October 02, 2014 1:45:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Anon: I do a bit of research online beforehand, and sometimes call to verify. Otherwise, I'll just open the bottles and hope they don't say anything (nobody has so far), as I did with the ice cream shop here.

Anon: Yeah I've been on a big beer kick as of late, and am quite enjoying it.

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