*Disclaimer* This review is based off of a first time experience on only their second day open, so some slack is always in order. But, the good news is, very little slack was necessary.
Hankook Taqueria, a brand-spankin’ new Korean Taco joint in West Atlanta, just so happens to be all of 2 minutes from my office. Thanks to a tweet heads up by Jimmy this morning, I was given the opportunity to be one of the first to try them out.
Tucked away in a mostly industrial stretch of Collier Rd. in the former location of Good Eats, Hankook will probably have to rely on word-of-mouth to get their initial customers in the door. So far, the only noticeable change to the space is the new signage. Otherwise, it seems mostly untouched. If bad wallpaper is enough to distract you from enjoying your meal, you might want to wait for some remodeling. However, if that sort of thing doesn’t faze you, definitely check them out. In fact, if it does faze you, check them out anyway you F’ing snob.
Tomas Lee, the owner and former Executive Chef at Buckhead Life’s Buckhead Diner, was working the lunch-line-style counter, and was gracious enough to indulge me as I asked for recommendations. The menu is simple and affordable: Basically tacos, burritos, and quesadillas with your choice of chicken, beef, pork, Tilapia, and tofu fillings. I was more intrigued by the “Street Snacks” section of the menu, which includes fried pork dumplings, fish cakes, and fried Korean sweet potatoes to name a few.
Given that this is a taqueria, and that I wanted the chance to sample as many of the meats as possible, I opted for three BBQ tacos (Chicken, Beef, and Pork) and an order of Man-Doo (fried dumplings).
Each of the tacos is topped with a mix of lettuce, scallions, and green cabbage tossed in a soy sesame vinaigrette and drizzled with a mildly spicy red chili sauce.
For only $2.25/ea, the tacos are a good value. Two per person would probably be appropriate for a light lunch, but I rarely do things light or appropriate. So as to not let the flavors of the meats get confused with one another, I decided to attack them one at a time.
Between the three meats, I would have to say that the pork was my favorite. It is a pulled pork soaked in a spicy Korean BBQ sauce. The heat was pretty mild, but it was present, and the sauce had a nice sweetness to it. A lot of the flavor that you get from the tacos actually comes from the soy sesame greens mix, and the pork stood up against the greens better than the other two. While the beef and chicken were both good, the meats themselves didn’t bring as much to the party in my mouth as the pork.
The only complaint I would have about the tacos was more of a product of it being slow (I was one of maybe 3 tables of patrons). The flavor on the chicken was good, but the chicken itself was pretty dry. This is obviously because it had been in a heating tray for a while, but once the customer volume picks up, I’d imagine this problem will fix itself.
The definite highlight of the meal was the Man-Doo. These dumplings are filled with a ginger-scallion pork mixture, deep fried in sesame oil, and served with a ponzu-like sauce which I spooned over the top. Now, I love all things fried, and all things pork, so I have had more than my fair share of fried dumplings, but these were some of my favorites.
The crispy wonton wrappers are packed with flavor from the sesame oil, and the ginger pork filling is delicious. I would absolutely order these again. I think that I may order completely off of the “Street Snacks” portion of the menu next time just to get a taste of everything I couldn’t try today.
I fully intend to return here for lunch again, (It is only lunch service for now; dinner should being in about a month) and I really hope that enough people catch on to Hankook to keep them going for a while. Though I wouldn’t say that it is the best Korean meal that I have ever had, it is a good value and I will be dragging friends and co-workers with me on my next visit.
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