The first time I ate Korean in Italy happened many years ago. My friend Lilletta brought me there and the restaurant in question was in Porta Venezia area. I remember perfectly how much I liked it and from that moment my passion for Korean food culture never ceased. That place is called Hana and today it is located a few steps from Duomo, at Via Giuseppe Mazzini 12.
Hana is one of the first Korean restaurants in Italy. Its history begins in 1993, when it first opened in Porta Venezia, in Via Lecco — where today is the Juga site. In 2010 the restaurant was transferred to today’s building and in 2015 it became the property of the head chef Kim Myunghun, a smiling and very kind landlord always at the service of customers. The goal here is to propose Korean cuisine (called Hansik) in an ecological key as an alternative of the future: its roots date back to 5000 years ago and the recipes concern a perfect harmony between the various tastes and colors (the same that characterize the famous bibimbap, here a strong dish, and a symbol of South Korea). These dishes, made from jang (foods made from soy, chilli and vegetables that are fermented with the help of the earth and the sun) are extremely balanced, rich in fiber, mineral salts and nutrients.
The menu is indeed very traditional. The dishes are all very neat and tasty, as well as the environment recalls South Korean minimalism but is also welcoming thanks to the warm tones of the lights. Opening the menu we proceed in order through the subdivision of the courses. Particularly spicy dishes are indicated. Appetizers include: mandu, haemul pajeon, kimchi jeon, yuk hee, tofu kimchi. We then move on to rice cakes - Hana tokbokki (rice dumplings, ramen, seaweed omelette and boiled egg in a spicy sauce) is the best one. Then the protagonist of the house, bibimbab (rice with sauteed vegetables — turnip, bean sprouts, courgettes, cucumbers, carrots, spinach, mushrooms — and egg, all accompanied by spicy sauce or soy). Two variants are proposed. The first is not hot served on a porcelain plate: classic bibimbab, yukhee bibimbab (with Korean tartare), bulgoghi bibimbab (with beef), Salmon bibimbab (with smoked salmon) and bibimbab with raw fish. The second version is served on hot stone: dolsot bibimbab (classic served in traditional stone bowl), jeyuk dolosot bibimbab (with bacon), bulgoghi dolsot bibimbab (with beef) and ojing-o dolsot bibimbab (with squid in sauce spicy).
Another great classic proposed is undoubtedly the kimbab: with kimchi, with tuna and mayonnaise and with wurstel and cheese. Then there are the various types of noodles, meat dishes and fish ones. The soups are numerous and the desserts essentially include the most well-known of the desserts, so to speak, Korean: the bingsu. This is the famous summer dessert consisting of crushed ice and condensed milk served with various tasty toppings. Here are proposed: pat-bingsu (with azuki and cream ice cream), dalghi-bingsu (strawberry with cream ice cream), Oreo-bingsu (all’Oroo with chocolate ice cream). The menu also includes: hotteok ice cream (sweet omelette with green tea with ice cream of the day and fresh fruit), tiramisu al su jung-gua (to the Korean drink based on cinnamon and ginger), panna cotta with green tea with azuki and cereals organic, ice cream of the day (to be chosen among green tea, ginger, black sesame or cedar), organic lemon sorbet with cream, drowned in coffee with ice cream of the day to choice and fruit salad with yuja (Korean cedar).
On closer inspection there is something for everyone! But it’s not over. The drinks menu is another area to be explored absolutely. We remain astonished at the large quantity of Korean tea offered, served both cold and hot: ginger and honey, Korean cedar and honey, green plum and honey, date and honey, Korean ginseng, cereal and walnut ginseng, brown rice, green tea Korean, mint and green tea, cinnamon and honey, blueberry, toasted cereals and milk. There are also many Italian wines (both bottled and by the glass), soju, seol jung me (Korean green plum wine), makgulri (fermented rice wine), bekseju (ginseng rice wine), bok bunza ( black raspberry wine), icing makgulri (grapefruit rice beer) and hwa-yo premium soju, a non-alcoholic made by a process that has been in use for 700 years. It is traditionally fermented in the earthenware called jangdok. The materials used are top quality rice and thermal water recovered at 150 meters deep. Finally, there are also Korean coffee and Korean digestives based on green plum, ginseng and twelve herbs or bamboo.
In conclusion, Hana is confirmed as a good restaurant where you can have an elegant dinner (compared to the standard of the other Korean restaurants in the city) even as a couple. I noticed, however, that some dishes are a bit difficult to digest and the overall price, especially for dinner, is higher than the standard. However, it is worth at least one visit.