Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Hoban Korean – Eagan, MN

D.Rough and I had both heard really amazing things about this place from a number of articles claiming it was the best in the Twin Cities. I hadn’t heard any friends talk about it, but it was in a further suburb, so I suppose I should have factored that in. We also heard they have karaoke attached to the restaurant, so we thought we’d better go check that out.
We went and checked out the Karaoke rooms while we waited for our table to be ready. They have four rooms of different size and they will bring you drinks and appetizers to your room, which sounds awesome. Looks like this could be a potential evening activity with some of our ridiculous friends…

The restaurant seated us in the large dining room, which was full. We scanned the menu and tried to figure out if we should go adventurous or play it safe. We decided on a safe appetizer and adventurous entrees. We got some spicy chicken wings to start. Then we got Meat Jun (sort of like a fried meat/bulgogi pancake), and also Hot and Spicy Octopus.

The chicken wings were really pretty darn good. Even better than I suspected they would be, since sometimes, Asian restaurants like to overcook the chicken and hope the sauce covers it up. These had a lot of meat on them and the sauce was really tasty and not very spicy. Just a little bit, but for Minnesota, that’s a lot. We both really liked these wings. 

The Hot and Spicy Octopus was next. We both love octopus, especially fried and grilled. I know Minnesota doesn’t have a huge bumper crop of octopus usually, so it was a gamble, but we were both up for it. It looked really pretty on the plate, so we were excited to check this dish out. D.Rough took the first bite to test it out. It was a small piece and I could tell by her face she wasn’t thrilled with it. Then I could tell, when she wasn’t through chewing it 5 minutes later, that it might not be the best-cooked octopus we’ve ever had. It clearly wasn’t. I’ve never actually had octopus this chewy before and I was really surprised how long it took for each piece to break down. The sauce itself and the vegetables were delicious, but the octopus was basically inedible. It was like eternally chewing on pieces of rubber and eventually, both of our jaws hurt from chewing and we gave up on it. I’d suggest a different dish to my friends who end up going there.

The Meat Jun sounded delicious. It arrived and looked a little drab. It was a sort of gray-ish-brown color that didn’t look all that appealing (especially compared to the awesome photos on the website). We were hoping to get over the texture of the octopus by eating this – but that wasn’t going to happen. The texture of this was possibly even worse. The meat was extremely chewey, and whatever breading they used on the outside was basically uncooked flour, yet super greasy. We tried a couple different pieces to make sure we didn’t just get one piece of non-perfect beef. But the whole thing was like this. We just kept chewing and chewing. The flour-y breading made the whole thing worse, so we just ended up stopping.

We figured we might as well drink, just to help recover from this. We ordered a small pitcher of Soju. Actually, we ordered three or four different kinds of flavored soju and they would come back and tell me they were out, so we finally ended up with the mango soju. Which, frankly, was DAMN delicious. Yes, we loved the awesome little ice-filled pitcher that it arrived in at the table, but the flavor was perfect. We know we can’t pour our own soju, so we kept filling each other’s glasses. We’re both givers. And yes, it did help us a little bit forget how bad the meal was. A LITTLE.

We got our large amount of uneaten food boxed up, so it didn’t look like we hated everything, and left. We immediately threw away the food when we got home. I apologize to the people that enjoy this restaurant. We simply had a bad experience here, which significantly pales in comparison to many other Korean restaurants we’ve eaten at. We may go back for the karaoke, appetizers, and drinks, but I don’t know that we’re going to order much off the main menu next time. We really wanted to like this place, but it just wasn’t up to our expectations nor past experience. Bummer

Top 5 things about Hoban Korean
1. The Mango soju (not even our first choice and it was great!)
2. Spicy Chicken Wings
3. Karaoke rooms looked awesome and the kid giving us the tour was really nice
4. Great menu photos for every dish
5. All the dishes come with many small accompanying dishes of various radishes, vegetables, and kimchee
Bottom 5 things
1. Meat Jun
2. Hot and Spicy Octopus
3. Out of all the best flavors of soju
4. The service was noticeably slow – we weren’t in a hurry, but geeeez
5. I don’t like writing bad reviews – it always makes me feel bad

1 comment:

Ruby James Vita said...

Aw, sorry you had a bad experience. I had the same experience with slow service and lack of soju flavors when I went too. BUT - you have to try the BiBimBap. You can't get that many places in MN, so I would actually really recommend you go back to try that. The karaoke rooms are legit, I don't think you'll find any familiar songs in them though!