Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hahn's Hibachi

Korean in Marin.
Searching the usual sources, no answers come up for a Korean Restaurant in Marin. But there is a small chain originating in San Francisco called Hahn's Hibachi, which is definitely concentrates on Korean cuisine that has a branch in San Rafael.

I'll have to admit, on that rainy day last week I was trying to dash in a place closer to the parking lot -- so I first tried Sushi Lin, thinking it had a few months now to hit its stride. But alas, although the lunch hours clearly indicated that it should be open for another hour when I arrived, the door was firmly locked and the man behind the counter just scowled. Not a way to encourage customers... I had visions of an obento box in my head, so then I braved the rain to head around the corner to Akira, only to discover that they have stopped weekday lunch service except on Fridays. Awk! Across the street beaconed Hahn's Hibachi, so that is how I ended up there.

Dolsot Bibimbop

By that time I was soaked, and ready for something warm. I was greeted warmly (hurrah!) and I reviewed their extensive menu, deciding upon something a little unusual, a Dolsot Bibimbop. Very generously portioned, you have in a dangerously hot clay pot toasty rice topped with fresh steamed vegetables and barbecued chicken, then an fried egg! It stays almost too hot to eat for a long time due to the clay pot retaining the heat, but patience is rewarded with a fresh and inventive one-pot meal. The vegetables underneath were spinach, carrots, zucchini, turnips and sauteed bean sprouts. A veritable garden!

I was trying to find other Korean restaurants in Marin, and remembered a fast food one called Sorbol (I think), and found that the Village Food Court in Corte Madera where it lived has been swallowed up by Anthropologie. A little birdie told me that Java Hut Cafe in San Anselmo serves great Korean food, although it's a coffee shop. I'll have to put it on my list to check. If any of you know of other Korean restaurants in Marin, let me know! But at any rate, Hahn's Hibatchi was friendly and fresh and I'll be back again!


Cindy said...

The best part about bibimbop is the rice that has browned at the bottom of the pot by the time you're done eating.

Also, when you get this meal, you're supposed to stir everything up right away to distribute the egg. :)

Anna Haight said...

Ah, you're supposed to stir it up! Makes sense. I put the raw yolk up against the side of the pot to cook it, which it did quickly! Your hint also reminds me of a lot of Japanese dishes with raw egg where you do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

I also wanted to mention 2 things. The bowl is actually made of stone, not clay. Another thing that is done is that in some Korean restaurants the rice that goes with the meal is also cooked in stoneware as well. The bottom of these stoneware bowls has browned rice as Cindy says. It is traditional in Korean culture to add hot water to the browned rice, mix it up, and drink it. They usually won't do this for anyone not Korean, as it is an old tradition, and most non-Koreans don't seem to like it. Karen tells me that this was born out of reasons of poverty, and not letting things go to waste.

Anonymous said...

Hanh's Hibachi is a disgrace to Korean Food, I'm Korean, so I should know. I only went there once and never again. And that place in Corte Madera was terrible. The people who owned that place even told me I would not like it because I was Korean, they were right. I have not found one korean place in the bay area I like. Recently, I met a Korean man from the bay area and he told me there was a good place on Telegaph in Oakland. I'll have to check it out. I miss LA, the best Korean food is down there.

Anna Haight said...

Anon. Michael: Yes, the bottom of the rice was toasty, and really good! This was just such a generous portion that I couldn't eat all of it. Japanese are the same way about eating all of the rice/food, not wasting is very important part of the culture.

Sharon: I'm definitely not an expert on Korean food, just react to whatever is served with how it tastes to me. That dish was very tasty, even if it was not authentic. The Sorbol place was definitely a mall-type fast food, but the proprietors were very kind to me and indulged me in having more of what I liked, and less of the other stuff -- I loved those clear noodles which are flavored with a soy sauce based dressing, and used to get more of those and less rice. Let us know if you remember the name of the place on Telegraph as I would like to try truely authentic, good Korean food. I had better Korean food in Japan, but it's been changed in many places there for Japanese tastes as well, so I'm not really sure what is authentic.

Ed said...

There's actually a number of good Korean restaurants in the Bay Area, sadly none in Marin though. Our favorite may be the same one Sharon was referred to, Pyung Chang Tofu House on Telegraph in Oakland. Specialty is Soon Tofu, a tofu soup served in a stone bowl straight from the oven. Anna, you would have loved it on that cold rainy day. There's a couple of Korean bbq places down the street as well.

I went to college in LA and got spoiled by their Koreatown too, but good Korean is to be had in the Bay Area - it just takes a little effort. There's a couple decent places in the City, mostly along or near Geary in the inner Richmond, but there's also several quite good places down in the South Bay.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I finally found the Korean place. It's called Samwon in Oakland. The cross streets are Telegraph and 27th, I believe. It's a Korean Barbque place, the taste is pretty good. I didn't like the appetizer that they brought out, but you win some you lose some.
Try it out.

Anna Haight said...

Ed thanks for the tip!
Sharon - wonderful, I appreciate your coming back to post this. I'll definitely give it a try!