Hidden deep in Hanaro Mart, steamed pockets of kimchee and toasty barley tea
| Davney Fong, front, and Derek A. Toy steam kimchee dumplings in the restaurant at Hanaro Mart on Rittiman. (Photos by Mark Greenberg)
Hanaro Mart Korean Restaurant, as I call it (for lack of a better name), provides just such a Eureka! experience. Housed within a Korean/Asian market, there's no sign of its existence on the exterior - at least not in English - and you need to persevere to find the eight-table space at the rear of the store. There's no sign announcing it there, either, and the only menu is taped to the far wall, listing dumplings, noodles, and soups in loose categories. The smiling couple behind the counter speak little English, so all of your communications skills might be called into play, but that's the thrill of it. Abandon all inhibitions and simply order.
| A plate of steamed kimchee dumplings served with a soy dipping sauce. Small bowls of kimchee are served with all orders.
The Cold Noodle with Assorted Mixture was also very satisfying, with slices of pear providing sweetness, hard-boiled egg a lushness, sliced beef a familiar grounding, and the touch of dried chile just a little heat. Mix it all up before you start to get the full range of flavor in each bite. Do the same with the Noodles with Blackish Bean Sauce, which is refreshing in both its candor and the unusually earthy-toasty taste of the coffee-like bean sauce. The wheat noodles here are house-made and have an agreeable, just-this-side-of-sturdy texture; small chunks of potato add a great textural counterpart, as do thin slivers of crunchy squash.
| Hanaro Mart |
Price range $5.00-19.99
Don't leave Hanaro Mart without cruising its orderly aisles. You'll find all manner of Jones-worthy items from packets of dried anchovies to house-made kimchee, bottles of persimmon vinegar, and boxes with names such as Oh Yes Choco Cake: "Presents for your delicious taste." Eat your heart out, Harrison Ford. •