PARK SLOPE — Forget fusion — a new Korean restaurant on Seventh Avenue is offering pure, unadulterated Korean flavors.
Hanki Everyday Korean is serving food crafted by Korean chefs who want to give the neighborhood a true taste of their home cuisine, said manager Jayne Choi.
Hanki opened quietly May 7 at 226 Seventh Ave. (between Third and Fourth streets) to get feedback on its still in-the-works menu. Choi said she and the restaurant's staff were surprised to find that customers preferred the spicy, authentic-tasting dishes instead of overly sweet Americanized versions of Korean food.
"We thought they wanted something more fusion-y at first, but then we realized people here really know their Korean food, so we’re offering the authentic Korean stuff," Choi said. "We're just going with the flavors straight from Korea."
Hanki's early customers requested kimchee and asked for spicier food, Choi said. In response to those demands, Hanki's chefs worked hard to create sauces that were "true to Korean food," Choi said.
Choi and her husband started the restaurant together after about six years running a catering business. They're also in the process of launching a restaurant in Irvine, Calif.
Hanki Everyday Korean will serve what Choi calls Korean bento boxes, or "Hanki sets." They consist of a protein, multi-grain rice and a side of either banchan (vegetables) or vermicelli noodles. Protein options include bulgogi (marinated beef), miso pork, spicy pork, dakgalbi (fire-grilled chicken) or tofu steak. Prices range from $11.50 to $13.25.
Right now the restaurant has 16 tables but will add 20 more seats when an outdoor patio opens later this month, Choi said. The space was last occupied by Tofu on Seventh, the Szechuan restaurant that moved to Fifth Avenue and became Tofu on Fifth.
With the closure of Moim at 206 Garfield Pl., Hanki is one of the only Korean restaurants in the neighborhood.
"We were surprised there weren't that many Korean options," Choi said. "A lot of people here love kimchee."