Staying at Flushing for one of the nights as the wedding dinner that we would be attending is going to be held there, we headed out to the Korean restaurant Hahm Ji Bach for dinner. This restaurant not only was given significant mention in the Michelin Guide, but it was also highly recommended in Yelp! While not the most conveniently located for tourists, it works fine when arriving by car as there is a valet service outside restaurant which is meant to serve the various restaurants around the area.
There was no wait for a seat as we entered the restaurant, and inside it was just like any other Korean BBQ joint. The restaurant is split over several storeys and we managed to snag a table on the basement. This would be our return visit in a week and just last time we were seated on the main floor. Once seated, we were presented with the menu and there was a comprehensive selection of meat and the standard Korean dishes, but what was more amazing was the array of small appetizer plates that are complimentary in all Korean restaurants. The selection of ‘banchan’ was also very tasty and included several form of Kimchi, green salad, tofu dishes, bean sprouts, peanuts and smelt fish, as well as pickled cucumbers. In addition, there was also a variety of dipping sauce along with cabbage to be enjoyed with the meat.
We ordered the sam gyeul sap (pork belly) and the galbi (short ribs), as these are the 2 mainstay of any Korean BBQ. As an additional side dish, we also ordered the spicy tofu soup. The tofu soup was good, but nowhere special or the best I’ve eaten. But the pork belly was just delicious, especially with the dipping sauce of sesame oil and salt provided. For the galbi, the meat was also tender and well marinated, and while the cooking is done on the table, it was managed by the hostess serving our table. Apparently Hahm Ji Bach hires staff that are pretty versatile in speaking Mandarin Chinese, Korean and English, as I believe they have a large proportion of Asian customers.
If the meal was fantastic, what made it more memorable was the dessert. While Asian restaurants in general are not known for their desserts, Hahm Ji Bach serves its customers a bowl of pumpki shaved-iced slush which was refreshing along with very sweet pineapples that have been cut and sliced for diner’s consideration. It is really the small touch that counts in the dining experience that makes it a very complete meal. And it is precisely for this reason that makes me yearn to return to this place for a hearty family meal!