Saturday, 23 April 2016

Hana (rue Saint Boniface)

When faced with every restaurant blogger's least favourite question - 'What places to eat do you recommend?' - I've started to give increasingly vague answers. Not the rue des Bouchers, of course. The rue de Flandres, though, is a good bet. Or, further away from tourist central, the place Saint Boniface. I've had good and indeed very good experiences in its environs and I can't think of anywhere in Brussels that matches it for sheer variety of different cuisines, from traditional Belgian to African to Asian, including one of Brussels' few Korean restaurants, Hana.
It's technically Korean-Japanese, but in practice a fairly small sushi and ramen selection is outflanked on the menu by Korean starters and hot dishes - I hope you'll forgive me for focusing on the latter elements, not least as I finally got to try a bibimbap, the classic Korean dish of rice, egg, meat and vegetables. For an extra euro (16E in total) I had the dolsot version, which came in a sizzling hot stone bowl for mixing the raw ingredients, as the waiter helpfully reminded as I fiddled with my phone trying to take the less than perfect photo below (the curse of the restaurant blogger). 
Luckily those lost twenty seconds didn't seem to harm the end result. There's a time and a place for haute cuisine but I never get tired of simple ingredients well treated, and this bibimbap certainly met that description: the freshness of the newly cut vegetables really made the dish, and the much-vaunted crunchiness of that last layer of rice was a good note to end on. This sort of food leaves you feeling full but somehow virtuous at the same time.Alongside the bibimbap came some miso soup (which wasn't one of the more flavoursome that I've had - the field is hardly crowded, though) and kimchi - I was surprised this wasn't a bit hotter, but perhaps it is tailored to European tastes. Both were good though, and the bibimbap was clearly the main event. I also ended up with some green tea (2.30E) which happened to be the greenest I've ever seen.
On another visit I had the mandu-gukbab (15E), summed up by the menu as 'Big raviolis soup, rice bowl'. The soup did contain two large dumplings with a tasty though not especially memorable filling, but one again this was all about the mixture of fresh flavours, with plenty of carrot, courgette and other less identifiable green vegetables, thinly sliced beef (well cooked - rarer would have been even better), egg white (I don't know if the yolk had dissipated into the soup but, oddly, it was nowhere to be seen) and a pleasantly astringent seaweed and sesame topping.

Other thoughts? Service was generally friendly and very fast - this would be a good choice for a quick lunch but Hana is also homely enough for a more relaxed meal. In an unusually gastronomic neighbourhood it certainly holds its own.

rue Saint Boniface 21
1050 Brussels


1 comment:

  1. I fully agree about Hana; the Bibim Bap is very fine indeed.

    However, please also note their dumplings are outstanding and their langoustine tempura are pretty damn fine too!If-I-had-a-Hana-Id-Hana-in-the-morning-Hana-rue-Saint-Boniface-21-Ixelles/cmbz/555120570cf2487417267052