Monday, July 9, 2012

swish by han.

Have you ever eaten somewhere so good that you want to hit the streets outside and usher passersby in because you can't stand to see complete strangers miss out that badly?

That was me this week. Straight up.
Well, I didn't actually yell at people on the street like a madman. But there was a couple we could see through the window checking out the menu and deciding whether or not to come in, and after two glasses of wine (I was celebrating a good interview for my dream internship) I just had to let them know.

My boyfriend and I met two friends we'd met travelling in Southeast Asia at Swish by Han this Wednesday. It was our one-year reunion from when we'd been together last, and because so much of our trip revolved around hunting down the best local places to eat wherever we were, it was only fitting that we eat somewhere delicious here. Our foodie friend Hilary had heard great things about Swish by Han. I wasn't sure if I had tried Korean food, so I was definitely down to give it a try.

A few blocks from St. Lawrence Market, Swish by Han has a funky interior, with exposed brick walls, sleek wood tables and daily specials scrawled on black chalkboards.

Also, they played a variety of amazing 90s and 2000-era hip hop and rap throughout our meal, which you may recall is always a hit with me. 

The second I heard Snoop & Nate Dogg's "Lay Low," I was a goner. 

We hunkered down and ordered 4 dishes to start. The Soo Yook arrived first. Paper-thin slices of delicate, fall-apart-tender, 48-hour-braised beef with a sesame-seed crust on a bed of greens, green onions and thinly sliced chili peppers. The salad of sorts was dressed with a sweet and spicy dressing, and was a mouthwatering start to the feast.

Wild mushroom salad with more chilli peppers, sesame seeds and a soy-chili dressing came next. The mushrooms were meaty and tender and good enough that they had more than one non-mushroom-lover at the table raving.

My favourite, by far, were the spicy pork buns. Juicy pieces of pork neck tossed with onions, what we think was pineapple and an amazing, sticky sweet-spicy sauce sandwiched between two soft toasted Ace Bakery onion buns, they were an awesome twist on an old classic. 

After a few bites, I tried to convince the crowd to just throw in the towel and order those for the rest of the night. Sadly, they wanted a more well-rounded dining experience than that. I may have to go back alone. 

The lobster bi bim bap was a bed of crispy, hearty rice mixed with veggies and big pieces of sweet, tender lobster meat, cooked in a stone bowl and doused with a generous serving of chilli sauce. 
You can bet I scraped that stone bowl clean. 

The dak kogi ssam set was a platter of DIY lettuce-wraps, complete with steamed rice, spicy barbecued chicken, marinated veggies and a kimchi relish. While it was the last menu item to arrive to a very full table, its flavour was not lost on us. We still managed every last bite.

The cherry on top? My two babes of dining companions. What could be better than that? 

Other than the steamed pork buns, of course.

Don't wait for me to catch a glimpse of you through the window and drag you in. Go to Swish by Han ASAP. 

Swish by Han
38 Wellington Street East
Toronto, ON

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