Just on the southern edge of Korea town, hidden behind a large wooden gate one encounters HanGawi, an elegant oasis for balanced, healthy, delicious, MSG free Korean food. HanGawi has been awarded two stars by none other than Ruth Rachel at the New York Times.
From the moment you walk into the restaurant, exchanging your shoes for slippers, you start to relax as the city street energy gets left behind and you enter another dimension of amber light and awaking aromas. The low tables and raw silk cushions combine with the display of teapots and tea canisters complete your transference to a different mental place.
All the dishes served at HanGawi are exquisite and beautifully plated. The sesame-leaf tofu patties arrive perfectly crispy on the outside and easily lend themselves to ordering a second serving! The different dumpling options, leek pancakes, and the kimchi-mushroom pancakes all come with the traditional sweet chili pepper dipping sauce. Each Korean restaurant worth its salt has its own proprietary blend for the dipping sauce, and HanGawi is no exception with its own delicious blend that has you reaching for your spoon and continually asking for more.
The winner appetizers for us were the stuffed shiitake mushrooms and the silky tofu clay pot. Like every Korean restaurant, only better, HanGawi offers a large selection of bibimbap (translates: mixed meal), a rice base served in a sizzling hot stone bowl which is then topped off with different ingredients. The bibimbap is served with kimchi and Gochujang (fermented chili pepper paste ) sides, and the idea is to mix all the ingredients together at the table. As HanGawi is a vegan restaurant the difference from the traditional bibimbap is the option of meats and the inclusion of a raw egg topper which is cooked in by the hot stone.
The most outrageous dish is the Mongolian hot pot. A stew of tofu, vegetables, and herbs. While the bibimbap is served in a hot stone bowl, the hot pot is served in a bowl that is so hot it arrives at a rolling boil that will last through the end of your meal! I wound up finding mine edible as others were contemplating dessert. Worth ordering just for the sheer spectacle!
HanGawi is a must on any vegetarians list in NYC and certainly diverse and tasty enough for all but the most meat-dependent. The lunch specials are complete and well priced and there is an organic-only menu option as well. The Korean health herbal wines are very special, and a wide tea selection rounds off another NYC dining gem.
Hangawi Korean Vegetarian Restaurant
(1) 212 213-0077
12 E 32nd St (Btw Madison – 5th Av)
New York, NY 10016
12:00 – 14:45 Monday – Friday
13:00 – 15:00 Saturday
17:00 – 22:30 Monday – Friday
15:00 – 22:30 Saturday
17:00 – 21:30 Sunday