I don’t go out to Korea Town in Manhattan that often despite my Korean background. Not only is it always packed with people but the scene rarely changes and I would like to check out as many different places as possible. Furthermore, the food in Korea Town is not the best out there (if you want to explore Korean cuisine, Flushing in Queens or New Jersey, where there is a large population of Korean immigrants and therefore the competition is more intense, therefore leading to overall better quality of food). You don’t have to have great Korean food in K-Town to be successful; there will always be a ton of people, Korean and non-Korean, who will come out to the neighborhood and have drinks along with Korean staples like BBQ, regardless of the quality of food. The team from Take 31, one of the more popular Korean bars in the area that also serves a variety of pub food, has recently opened a more formal restaurant next to the bar. I was definitely intrigued since Take 31 was actually one of the places with better food than most others. This restaurant with quirky name (named for the owner’s mother) seemed like a promising modern Korean place that shows that Korean food is not just about BBQ. My recent experience, though, was mixed to my regret.
The menu at the restaurant is fairly large and consists of five different sections from appetizers to entrees to noodles and rice dishes. Sautéed pork with chief’s gochujang sauce (jaeyook bokkeum) has always been one of my favorite Korean dishes, and the one at Her Name is Han definitely delivers, with nice balance of flavor and texture. I had very high expectations for spicy assorted seafood and homemade dumplings soup that is meant for sharing by multiple people. It turned out to be a disappointment, however. While the soothing flavor of the soup was nice, the seafood wasn’t as fresh as I had hoped, and the dumplings tasted like they came from frozen food corner instead of “homemade.” Sautéed rice cake (ddeukbokki) with shishito pepper and kabocha with yuzu gochujang sauce, one of the staples from Take 31, is also at this restaurant and I would recommend definitely ordering this to start your meal. On the other hand, Japanese yam and potato pancake along with mentaiko, which sounded very promising the moment I looked at it on the menu, could’ve been more crispy instead of soft and mushy on the inside, especially with the subtle hint of mentaiko that was otherwise quite nice to the dish.
The restaurant, along with Take 31, is constantly packed with people and there is no reservation so my suggestion is to go as early as you can. The restaurant has a full bar with fruit-based soju and cocktails. I liked the modern vibe of the restaurant (probably not as intimate as nearby Hanjan but still very thoughtful in décor). I will perhaps try Her Name is Han again in the near future to order other dishes to see if my mixed experience was more due to a bad night at the kitchen or what I ordered than the execution level of the kitchen. Until then, I would say this is a nice addition to K-Town but needs a bit more clean-ups at the kitchen.
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 7.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 7.5/10
Address: 17 East 31st Street, New York, NY 10016
Telephone: (212) 779-9990