I first heard about Han Yang when a friend told me that a new girl that he was seeing wanted to go have dinner here. He asked me if I had ever been. It’s nestled on one of the Buena Park streets on Orangethrope, a street that I drive up and down regularly. So I was surprised that the name didn’t ring a bell. After his dinner date there, I asked how it was. I think he said that he had liked it or maybe he said it was “okay”…I can’t remember exactly for sure, but he didn’t hate it….it was a while ago (like last year lol). The 4.5 Yelp starred restaurant features a variety of Korean classic comfort food type dishes. But if you ask me, a true Korean, pretty much most Korean dishes seem like comfort food. Anyways, I made a mental note of it to visit some time.
Fast forward about a year and I finally got around to paying a visit. Last night, the plan was to go have pho for dinner (if you follow me on Instagram, you probably know what happened). I saw some people eating pho as if it was their last meal. And that made me feel like I was going to die if I didn’t get some pho soon. Waiting around until dinner time seemed an eternity. A minute later, my mom asks me to go have pho. The dilemma! Do I eat pho with mom and satiate my pho needs instantly? Or do I wait it out and go have pho for dinner, as originally planned? Decisions, decisions!
After much contemplation, I was like eff it, I’m going to go have pho with mom. It was going to be a battle to see if I can have pho twice in one day.
I was texting with SS about my little story about what happened and how I ended up having pho for lunch. I told him that I was probably going to try a non-pho dish when we go to our pho dinner. He then told me that we don’t have to have pho. I mean, if he was craving pho (even if it was half as bad as my craving was earlier that day), I didn’t want to deprive him of getting that pho fix. I only know too well how ridiculous these cravings can get, so I didn’t want to be a part of getting in the way of a person and his/her pho.
We started throwing out other options that might be good. SS was in the mood for something hot and soupy. He threw out Kalguksu (knife noodles) on the table. But I wasn’t in the mood for Kalguksu. I threw out Thai and said he can have a Tom Kha Gai or something. He wasn’t feeling it.
I yelped through OC, trying to think of what might be good that we’d both enjoy. The familiar name of Han Yang popped up. I browsed through the pictures to refresh my memory of what had appealed to me.
I knew what I wanted. It had been forever since I’ve had Nakji Dolsot Bibimbap. I sent links of Yukgaejang and Galbitang to SS to see if any of those might bait him. And the best part of all to seal the deal was most likely telling him, “It’s down the street.”
“I’m down to try,” said SS. That was painless!
“I have a feeling it’s going to be crowded,” I said.
“Really? Even on a Monday night? It shouldn’t be too bad,” said SS.
It was a little past seven when we arrived. As I expected, crowded! How did I know? Maybe it’s the little ingrained industry intuition? I just had a feel.
After writing our names down on the wait list, the wait time was around a half hour or so. We waited in the car, away from the entrance. But even with the background noise, car doors closed, we were able to make out the names being yelled out by the ladies.
We were seated at an adjoining table next to two little older Korean ladies. The place felt cramped. And the noise level is out there.
I was waiting to use the restroom, from my seat. There was a girl that had been standing and waiting for God knows how long. When she finally got in, I figured, I’d go in after her. Seconds later, another girl came by to wait at the door. So great, now two people I had to wait after. But then, she lost her patience and walked away. I didn’t take my eyes away from the door so that I can move on in there as soon as I saw the first girl coming out.
SS ended up ordering Galbitang. It’s the most raved about dish over here. “I hope they don’t get all cheap with the galbi in the soup. Some places do that, especially more so these days since galbi has gotten so pricy,” SS commented.
Munching on Kimchi while we wait: They give you three different types of Kimchi. The Ggakdukki (radish kimchi) is delish here. I didn’t really touch the other two.
My Nakji Dolsot Bibimbap came out first. It was sizzling! I asked SS to show me some rice mixing action as I videotaped for Instagram lol. The rice-mixing action makes me salivate, as I wait and watch the elements come together for yummy goodness.
When I picked up my wooden chopsticks that I had placed on top of the stone pot for a mere couple of minutes, they were almost too hot to pick up! I love eating out of stone pots. No matter how slow I eat (and I eat s-l-o-o-o-w), I don’t have to worry about the food cooling down. One thing I didn’t care for was the excessive raw onions. I could do without biting into the bits of random bitter/acidic onion pieces. The onions add a mild sweetness to it, but I wished that it was cooked a little more instead of being as raw or undercooked. But other than the annoyance that I had with the raw onions, me likes! After a while, I just picked out the raw onions to one side of the bowl.
The Nakji Dolsot Bibimbap also comes with a side of soup. A side soup is necessary when having a stone pot mixed rice of anything, if you ask me. The meal feels naked without it.
With the Galbitang that SS ordered, it seemed to hit the spot for him. He was pleased that the meat amount in the soup was generous. If they had put a pathetic, skimpy mere two or three pieces of thinly sliced meat in there or something (as some places have been known to do these days), I think SS would have said something to them. The hearty chunks of meat were tender and flavorful. SS was pleased.
The next time I come here, it’ll probably be with my mom on one of our lunch dates. She has heard good things about this place too and is curious to try. My guess is, she will probably order the Yukgaejang or something. And I’m probably going to share some of her Yukgaejang and get an order of IDK…..Ton Katsu….or maybe Nakji Dolsot Bibimbap again.