Eating Your Content: Alirang Hamilton
Last week my friend Vince inquired if I’d been to the new Korean restaurant on Locke Street. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Turns out that Ottawa based Alirang Korean Restaurant opened a second location in Hamilton. Typically this would fall under my “I don’t review franchises” rule but considering there’s only 2 locations and how far apart they are, I figured it was worth looking into. Marie & Steph were good enough to join me as Korean food rookies (I don’t count KBBQ) and we were off to dinner.
Note that the photo above is from the Ottawa location. The Hamilton location is shockingly similar, right down to the fish tank along the wall. Alirang Korean Restaurant has simple, friendly decor. We all immediately noticed that K-POP was playing for background music. I don’t know if that’s in everyone’s taste but I get a kick out of it so more power to them. We were greeted by a friendly server (who’s name I obviously didn’t get) and given some tea to get the ball rolling. I found it odd that they don’t provide another cup of water without asking though. We split a few apps to start.
Tempura Shrimp – $6.95
Marie & Steph “don’t eat anything out of the sea” so this was all to my face. The batter was very light, crisp and flaky. They went a little overboard in coating but it didn’t take away from the taste. The shrimp were large and were a very easy bite. I find so often Shrimp is easily undercooked, giving a chewy texture. This could have used a little heat, either in the coating or with a sauce but were fine on their own.
Croquette – $5.95
We were split on our impressions of the Croquette. Marie loved them. Steph was more of a “meh” as she noted “this was OK but I could buy these anywhere” and I didn’t care for them at all. These were battered and deep fried mashed potatoes. My initial thought when seeing these was “looks like McDonalds Hash Browns.” Truth be told that’s one of the few things I’ll actually consider eating from McDonalds. Sadly these weren’t up to even that standard. The potato was completely bland. A little Black Pepper would have made a world of difference. The batter had a nice crunch to it but otherwise completely forgettable.
Edamame – $4.95
I’m not particularly a fan of Edamame but the girls are. These were overloaded with salt, which is essentially the norm. The girls enjoyed but weren’t overly impressed. These lacked snap.
Mandoo – $4.95
I believe my exact words after eating these was “I could order 25 of these and be content with my meal.” Leave it to say I loved these Fried Dumplings. Minced Beef with an assortment of veggies served with Spiced Soy Sauce. A little more greasy than I’d care for but that’s seriously splitting hairs. I’d gladly eat these any time and will likely look into making them myself.
Vegetable Stir Fry – $11.95
I don’t know if the picture does justice to the sheer size of this dish. Steph looked a little overwhelmed with all of it. That being said, she really enjoyed it. Everything was fresh with good flavours. I took a pass on digging into this monster so I can’t render an opinion.
Dak Bokum – $14.95
Marie ordered this dish and was overwhelmed with heat. This was essentially Chicken Stir Fry with Korean Hot Sauce. I got in on the Chicken and admit it had some decent kick to it. Marie liked it but would have preferred some Bell Peppers thrown in for some extra flavour. Our server said they will add any Vegetables upon request. It should be noted that the chicken is all dark meat. I know a lot of people are big on Breast nowadays but this is a straight up Thigh job so be forewarned.
Curry Soondubu $10.95
I ordered this dish. It was OK but not something I’d order again. This is a stew infused with Curry. Some components, such as Chicken, Potato, and vegetables work for me. On the other hand, the broken up Tofu and Egg were a complete turn off. I understand that’s a staple but it created this mushy texture I didn’t care for. The curry itself carried little flavour. I’ve had plenty of curries from East Asia and know what I’m expecting for taste but this was missing something. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. I dumped the Steamed Rice into the bowl and got through 3/4 of it. The bowl is very deep (they don’t mess around with portions) and I couldn’t finish it.
It’s a mixed bag when it comes to Alirang Korean Restaurant. I was a big fan of the Tempura Shrimp and LOVED the Mandoo but the rest was middle of the road. I’d probably pop in for appetizers if I was in the neighborhood but otherwise I wouldn’t go out of my way to return for a second visit.
$28.03 (it’s an inside joke, I just had to make note of it).