For a while now, it had been on our mind to check out the Korean food in town, which is increasingly gaining popularity worldwide. So many thoughts had crossed our minds on visualising the mysterious world of Korean food. Would it be like Chinese? Would it be very different from the roadside food in Bangkok? But then, we decided, the proof of the pudding was in the eating. Hence, on a hot Sunday afternoon, after we had shopped till we dropped, we thought it was a good time to check out Hong’s, the Korean Café in Koregaon Park.
Soon we realized that it had not been a good decision to visit Hong’s under such weather conditions. In short, it was hot and dusty and we were surprised that the place was not air-conditioned. Actually, a sole floor fan was doing the job for the entire place. Well, it was too late now, and we were keen to attack the food. The curiosity was mounting.
We were greeted by a young Korean man, who could speak manageable English, and we soon set out to order our dishes. We had been referred the Bulgoggi, a typical Korean rice and meat dish. Along with this, we ordered Kimbap, which is the Korean style sushi at Rs. 280. Being a small setup, run by two Korean friends, the service was personalised. There was no extra staff for service. The Korean lady, Hye Jin Hong, was the chief chef, assisted by two young men.
Well, while expectantly waiting for our food, it was announced to us that the Bulgoggi could not be served! Due to the demand, they had run out of cooked rice. A little disappointed, we settled for the red noodles with chicken toppings priced at Rs.220 and Rs. 40 for the chicken topping.
The plate of Tuna Kimbap that arrived soon enough was amazing. The Chef came up to us with two sets of cheap gloves to help us eat the Kimpabs without soiling our fingers. She personally helped us put them on even, sweet! Also, she explained to us that we needed to put each Kimbap into the mouth in a single piece. Great learning, and in no time we polished off the entire plate that were actually a dozen Kimbaps!! Great experience, to say the least, teamed up with the piping hot red noodles, which looked like maggi noodles initially, but turned out to be tasty and different.
Ah, and now was the surprise! As we concluded our meal, the owner chef came up to us with a small portion of the Bulgoggi, as the rice was now ready and offered it to us complimentary. I thought the gesture rather than the dish itself was a good one! The Bulgoggi was certainly more bland and watery than I had expected. Google tells me that the Bulgoggi is a much drier and a spicier dish. Hodduck, the Korean pancake was priced at Rs.100, which brought a closure to the meal.
The restaurant was not the most professionally run place. But then, thumbs up to the duo who have tried so hard to introduce their country’s fare, in a foreign land, to their own and to the locals. We found groups of Korean students and youngsters enjoying their meal amidst fun and laughter. For sure, it was a good introduction to Korean food, and certainly, I would love to see the two young friends in better ambiance with even more authentic fares.
Hong’s Noodles Korean Cafe, Lane 7, Koregaon Park, Pune.