Tonight, following a great happy hour at Brit’s, I was riding the bus home and saw that Arby’s was doing it’s “free” Wednesday deal. Tonight’s “free” item was a regular roast beef sandwich and knowing that Kim is a fan I gave her a call and suggested we pick some up. Kim replied that we should celebrate some good news I received today and as such we should go out to dinner somewhere else instead. When I got home I asked what she was in the mood for and she said Asian. Being that we have cleared out most of the Asian places we haven’t already been to that are probably worth trying, I suggested Hoban in Eagan following many suggestions to try it, especially from Sank.
We arrived to the nearly empty and large restaurant. The space is lined with booths and in the middle are many tables offering seating to quite a crowd. Tonight there were plenty of people sitting in the restaurant eating but it was no were near full. We were seated along the wall near the front door and handed our menus. Kim immediately ordered some vegetable tempura which was delivered in record time. The tempura was light enough but a bit greasy towards the bottom. The dipping sauce was apparently their seasoned soy and was decent enough for the food. While eating our appetizer we continued to look over the extensive menu which was marked with numerous options that claimed to be “new”. Prices averaged (without any math) in the $11 range.
After much deciding, Kim finally went with the Chicken Bulgogi which is described as tender chicken marinated with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, and grilled with Hoban′s sweet teriyaki sauce. I spent a lot more time looking over the menu than she did and decided to go with an item that claimed to be served with a “fiery hot sauce”. The Dolsot Bibimbob claims to be sizzling rice topped with an assortment of vegetables and beef. I don’t remember what each of the items cost (sorry, I left my phone at home thus I had no notes) but our total bill was just under $30 without drinks so figure from there.
After ordering the servers delivered a multitude of side dishes including beansprouts, sweet potatoes, radishes, Kimchi, and lettuce/spinach. While I didn’t catch everything that was described to us, I did try it all. My favorite was the lettuce/spinach and even though I ate nearly everything that was presented, the majority of it just didn’t have much flavor to me. While digging through the various bowls, I heard a sizzling snap, crackle, and pop coming from behind me. I turned around to find a large stone bowl heading for our table containing my dish. After being warned at how hot it was, I took a photo or two and started peeking at the vegetables, meat, and egg.
The vegetables were fresh and sliced thin, the egg was cooked well but still runny, and the rice was sticky but not overdone–yet. Unfortunately the meat which I expected would be plentiful in my big dish turned out to be limited, extremely limited. I slathered on the “fiery hot sauce” which I had predetermined through testing with the tempura appetizer to not be hot nor be something I particularly enjoyed hoping it would taste better with the meal–and it did. Unfortunately, as I stated before, it wasn’t fiery and it certainly didn’t help to bring back any of the meat I felt was missing. As I ate and the rice cooked more, I spent quite a bit of time scraping the now caked rice from the bowl. The flavor was ok, the ingredients were fresh, and the dish was certainly filling but I must admit that Korean food just isn’t my thing. It’s not that I wouldn’t eat it again, I just won’t be rushing out tomorrow to do so.
After I ate for a while, Kim’s dish finally arrived at the table. She was immediately turned off by the fact that it was lying on a bed of very abundant sliced, raw onion. The chicken tasted fantastic and reminded me more of BBQ sauce than teriyaki. Kim didn’t eat much of her meal and saved the rest for my lunch tomorrow. If I had to do it all again I’d definitely take her dish over mine but that’s just me.
Service was good, price was reasonable, and the location was kept up fairly well. Definitely seems like a place that would be fun with friends and/or family. Overall the food was ok but it just wasn’t our thing and I can’t imagine that we’ll be starting to review every Korean restaurant we come across based on what we had tonight. Perhaps it was just the options we chose?
Have you eaten at Hoban in Eagan? If so, what do you enjoy there? Do you have any other suggestions of Korean restaurants in the MSP area that people should try instead? Whatever you think about Hoban Korean Restaurant go ahead and comment on and let others know too!
Hoban Korean Restaurant
1989 Silver Bell Rd
Eagan, MN 55122-3167
11 AM to 10 PM (Mon to Sun)
See all the pictures on Flickr here.