It felt strange to find a no-frills, family-style Korean café in the heart of the CBD at GSH Plaza.
Greeted with ”Annyeonghaseyo” everytime I walked into Hantol Korean Restaurant, I imagined that I was transported into some K-drama, say Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon.
There was an old-school charm about this place, and they were playing ‘old’ Korean songs (not the usual K-popish) through a speaker that didn’t work that well.
A middle-aged bespectacled man was always in the corner doing his calculations, ajoomma in the kitchen who would sometimes walk out to the cashier, and a pair of young Korean couple (don’t think they are together – though I can’t tell) serving food.
I was presented with a clear folder menu, listing offerings of home-made lunch box sets of Dosirak ($12.90 – $18.90), Bibimbap ($10.90 – $12.90), Kimbap ($6 for half roll), Riceball ($3), Ramyeon ($10.90), Jjajangmyeon ($12.90) and Kimchi Fried Rice ($11.90).
Here and there, you see some cancellations done in pen on the paper, and you would see new lower prices.
Stark contrast to the salad shops around the corner where people are forming long queues, and rushing.
I was initially there for the Korean Street Toast ($4) filled with egg, ham and cheese. The orange-striped packaging brought back some memories.
But it was no Isaac Toast. It tasted probably like what ajoomma would pack for her children before they head to school.
I wasn’t too fancy about the Korean Coffee ($2.50 for hot, $3.00 for iced) which tasted as though it was from an instant 3-in-1 packet.
However, I returned for the Dosirak ($12.90) which was worth its buck. Recommended the BBQ Spicy Pork by the sweet Korean girl, it was like a complete-complete set of meal with pickles, seaweed soup, beancurd skin, preserved anchovies, beansprouts, cabbage with mayonnaise and mixed grain rice.
Homely, comforting, and it didn’t taste ‘commercial’. The sliced pork was appetizing, and not too oily.
The Kimbap ($12.00) was a filling choice, though it tasted ‘healthy’ and probably could do with more kimchi or seasoning within.
I also didn’t quite understand why I was not allowed to order the half-roll though it was indicated in the menu, and had to settle for a full roll. Some lost-in-translation over there.
Hantol Korean Restaurant probably has other items on the menu worth a try. Come during off-peak to enjoy some of its charm – it does feel like home in Korea.
Hantol Korean Restaurant
GSH Plaza #01-03, 20 Cecil Street Singapore 049705 (Raffles Place MRT)
Tel: +65 6532 2771
Opening Hours: 7:30am – 9:00pm (Mon – Fri), 9:00am – 7:00pm (Sat), 11:30am – 7:00pm (Sun, PH)