Korean food has been one of my favourite cuisines ever since I tried it, but finding affordable options for this mildly expensive cuisine is a hard task. However, I frequent the Food Alley located at Toa Payoh because I like to believe that they nest hidden gems. I was right when I chanced upon Han Kki, a Korean restaurant serving up authentic Korean meals at budget-friendly prices. A gem indeed.
The food alley is always packed like sardines in a can during lunch and dinner hours, so be expectant of that when you’re around. It was easy to get a seat at Han Kki though, as they have quite a number of tables available for dine-in.
Just like most of the stores behind the food alley, there is a small counter by the corner that has as a concealed kitchen at the back and a countertop for orders to be taken. Their menu is displayed at the entrance of the store, for commuters to flip through the items available before entering.
In Korean, ‘Hankki‘ means ‘one meal’. Hence, they’ve created a homely space that serves a whole spread of delicious Korean food, reminding you of home-cooked meals. A characteristic of Korean meals is its large spread of side dishes that come to you before your meals. One awesome thing about Han Kki is their refillable side dishes!
What I tried at Han Kki
A perfect meal to me consists of one protein, one carbohydrate option, vegetables and a bowl of soup. That is my definition of one meal. And so I ordered exactly that!
To start of with a bang, here’s the Dakgalbi (Stir-fried Spicy Chicken) (S$11). I love spice and dakgalbi has always been one of my constants whenever ordering Korean food. It’s a delicious plate of boneless spicy chicken that is usually grilled on a cast iron pan, with a thick mouthwatering sauce.
Accompanied by a bowl of rice, the dish is pan-fried with a load of spring onions, onions and sprinkle of sesame seeds. I could smell this from afar and it is no wonder when I realised how much root vegetables they used to bring out its natural fragrance.
One bite in and I was sold! This is no doubt my favourite out of all the dishes that I ordered at Han Kki. This beloved Korean dish had a good balance between sweet, salty and spicy, rendering a complex flavour that was excellently perfected. Try ladling some of the sauce into your bowl of white rice— it makes a simple meal if you’re dining alone!
For my noodles, I ordered a tricky dish. Jjajangmyeon (S$10) is everyone’s favourite food. A fusion dish inspired by the Chinese (their own rendition being zhajiangmian), the noodles are topped with black bean sauce that is later stirred into the whole dish.
Stir the noodles along with the sauce and you’ll find a dish that is strong in flavour. It has earthy undertones, probably from the fresh cucumber that is placed on top of the noodles as a garnish. It also has a savoury taste that is finished with hints of sweetness. The chunjang sauce itself is not bad, and it is cooked with diced pork and onions.
Where the dish fell short was definitely with its noodles. It was slightly overcooked, and hence it was softer than how I would’ve liked it. However, once mixed, everything was easily slurped and I finished it very quickly. The noodles were easily overlooked with its saving point— the diced pork— as it was very tender and seasoned perfectly!
Next, Korean stews are absolute staples whenever you’re at a Korean restaurant. It serves as a comfort food on any occasion, and I went ahead for the most popular option, their Soybean Paste Stew (Beef) (S$12.50). They have a seafood option as well. Served to me bubbling and piping hot, it looked incredible.
The bowl was packed with ingredients, from silken tofu to zucchinis and mushrooms and of course, beef. For the price, I felt that it was extremely worth it because every spoonful was accompanied by a lot of ingredients.
The Korean stew is made with fermented soybeans, which explains the initial salty flavour that comes with it. The flavours are all natural, and this hearty bowl of soup is one of Koreans’ all-time favourite dishes. Han Kki does an excellent version at their store.
Koreans are known for their hearty dishes and Han Kki really does an outstanding job at that. Helmed by a Korean chef in the kitchen, I’m not surprised at the standards of each dish, not to mention their wallet-friendly prices too!
Like I mentioned earlier, Toa Payoh’s Food Alley is constantly packed because of its central location. With many options available, the whole food stretch caters to many taste buds. Give Han Kki a go as I assure you that you won’t regret your choice! I left absolutely satisfied.
Expected damage: S$9 – S$15
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