The accolades for Flatiron District’s modern Korean restaurant Hwaban continue, with the Times’ Pete Wells awarding two stars to the restaurant that the Post’s Steve Cuozzo praised for its simplicity this fall.
Wells places Hwaban in contrast to NYC’s other modern Korean offerings by calling it “the modern Korean restaurant where you’d take your mother,” writing that other restaurants like Atomix and Momofuku Ssam Bar cater to young people. At Hwaban, he notes the ample light for reading the menu, the comfy banquettes, the “soothing neutral colors,” and the soft jazz that plays throughout your meal.
Wells compares it to a Parisian tea room. The drink list, indeed, mostly consists of French wines. Hwaban also employs two pastry chefs, buttercream specialist Ahram Song and Lauren Kim, whose passion-fruit Pavlova Wells describes as “pretty” and “well-tailored.”
But the rest of the menu, he writes, is largely derived from Korean family cooking. It’s served as a $55 tasting menu with three courses at dinner. Mihyun Han, who owns the restaurant with her husband Key Kim, says that some of the recipes come from her mother, as with the chicken, tofu, and mushrooms dumpling that comes in a soy-milk broth Wells calls “transfixing.” The husband-wife duo also run sushi omakase Kosaka.
He writes on the nuanced flavors of the menu:
Like the Manhattan restaurants Atomix and Jungsik, Hwaban de-emphasizes the sweeter and spicier side of the Korean palate so other flavors can come through. Coins of poached pollock roe are sliced over a block of soft tofu in a clear, subtle dried-seafood broth. Soy-braised abalone is served in an anchovy broth that is, if not exactly subtle, at least soft-spoken.
Hwaban also offers a weekend brunch. Two stars.