During our visit to New York City a little while ago, we were invited to bring one of our friends and check out the food at the city’s best Korean: Her Name is Han. The restaurant ranks just below the top 100 NYC restaurants on Tripadvisor, holds a Certificate of Excellence, and received myriads of excellent reviews since its opening in 2015.
Her Name is Han avoids all fancy fusion gimmicks and mere focus on effects and shocking combinations of ingredients. Instead, it mainly aims to offer traditional Korean home-cooking (‘soul food’) to the Korean-American immigrant community and Korean travellers and temporary residents in town, while non-Koreans are very warmly welcomed too, of course.
Nils, an old friend of mine who has also written guest posts for this blog (e.g. on Kalmykia), arrived at the same time as Ms B & me, a few minutes early, and we entered the premises. We were immediately taken in by the rustic yet minimalist interior design with a slight hipster touch.
The menu is very extensive, so it took us the best of fifteen minutes (and the assistance of the very helpful, knowledgeable waiter) to make up our minds. We opted for the set lunch menu deals Hokke (grilled mackerel, with rice, kimchi, several side dishes, salad, and soup, for an amazing $17, cash only), Budae Jjigae (spicy beef broth with three types of ham, rice cake, kimchi, noodles, beans, vegetables, and cheese, for $18), and Bulgogi Hot Pot (clear beef broth with beef bulgogi, noodles, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and my beloved Perilla leaves, which my mother-in-law serves with literally every single meal, including breakfast, also for $18).
The food arrived just ten minutes after we ordered, and judging from the lovely smells and looks there was absolutely no doubt that we were in for a treat. All the little plates on each of the three trays and the colourful ingredients were a pleasure to look at. But, as they say, can’t have the cake and eat it. So after we took a couple of pics, we started tucking in, sharing the food among the three of us.
My favourite was probably the mackerel, which was perfect in texture and outrageously intense in flavour. Quite unsurprisingly, Ms B insisted that her stew was the winner of the day, and I could see why she would think so. Nils, who had had little prior exposure to Korean food, seemed completely converted to Seoul food by his bulgogi hot pot.
All three dishes were expertly prepared, without a single flaw, and this goes equally for all the side dishes. We were particularly impressed by the plum-mustard dressing for the leafy salad, the pink potato salad, and the crispy seaweed. To finish it all off, we shared home-made green tea biscuit crumbs with black sesame ice cream topped with dried strawberries ($12), which tasted as marvellous as it looked.
We’ll certainly be back again (as paying customers) during our next visit to town, perhaps as soon as March. 5 out of 5 in our book.