Despite only trying Korean food for the first time a few years ago, I'm already a big fan of the comforting yet flavoursome cuisine. As kimchi, a type of fermented cabbage which massively aids digestion, is a national dish of Korea and is eaten with most meals, the cuisine mostly has a very savoury and slightly sour taste which I personally love. So when I heard about a top quality but great value Korean restaurant on Dame Street, I couldn't wait to try it out.
I better state from the offset that Hailan, near the Olympia, is not going to blow your socks off when it comes to decor or atmosphere (talk radio plays in the background and the laminate menus have pictures on them), however these are small and superficial sacrifices to make for the most incredibly delicious food and top quality service. By lunchtime on Thursday the place was full of people coming in for Korean classics, their soups and bibimbap dishes seemed to be the most popular.
My tummy was rumbling so I decided to order a starter before my main, I settled on the fried beef and onion dumplings after my very helpful waitress recommended them. It wasn't long before the beefy dumplings came out, the flavour was deliciously rich and perfectly salty when dipped into the soy sauce. They tasted like more and I had to stop myself from gulping them all down in quick succession!
I was in the mood for something comforting and so for mains I ordered the kimchi and pork soup. Korean soups are more like stews and often come with a side portion of rice. The one I ordered came with as much tofu as pork and despite not being a huge fan of tofu, I really enjoyed it in this Korean soup. It took on a beautiful, sour flavour from the kimchi broth and was a lot easier to digest than big hunk of meat. The pork was cut into thin silvers and added a depth of flavour to the broth. Koreans love their food piping hot and the stone dishes their soups and stews come served in are so hot the soup literally bubbles!
The soup came with a portion of white rice which was perfect for soaking up the broth. The benefit of the soup being boiling hot was that you're forced to your meal really slowly as you allow each bite to cool, which is great if you're guilty of quickly inhaling your lunch every day before running back to your desk. It forces you to slow down and enjoy your meal properly.
The bill was pretty reasonable with the dumplings (which really could have been shared between two people) coming to €5.90 and the soup coming to €9.90. Korean food is comforting and delicious and feeds both the body and soul. Next time you're in the area, make sure to treat yourself to a lunch in here, you won't regret it.