Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Swish by Han
Located on Wellington Street, very near the St. Lawrence Market, Swish by Han is easily overlooked because the sign is SO hard to find. (YES! That tiny black sign with the squiggle is their signage, and in daylight, it's even harder to see). We almost walked right past the location. Simply put, Swish by Han offers regular Korean food in a trendier environment, modern plating, and an appetizer menu that has some added touches to traditional dishes.
I've read some reviews which said the service were unaccommodating and rude, but that wasn't the case for us. We had a great server that was friendly and helpful with our choices. She was the one that recommended the Spicy Pork Buns, which we loved. The dishes are small, but strong with flavours - lots of sauteed onions so this is a great spot if you like those.
The Spicy Pork Buns ($9) were my favourite dish of the night. Besides the fact that I think it's a win whenever meat, sauce and bread are combined together, the pork was extremely tender and their spicy barbecue sauce with sweet undertones oozed out of the buns. While the combination of the flavours and the pork isn't new to Korean dishes, the addition of the buns are. Somebody had to be the one to put the delicious meat into bun form and sell it in Toronto. I commend Han for being that person.
Swish's version of the Jap Chae ($8) was less than spectacular for me. For such a simple dish, there was nothing that made this dish stand out compared to the traditional Korean dish. Their noodles were had a great chewiness level - I'll give them that.
Something about ordering shrimp appetizers doesn't sits well with me, personally. Probably because they are usually so expensive for the little amount you are actually ordering. But my friends love it so we ordered their Tempura Prawns with Tobiko, Chive, and Kelp Salad ($10). Admittedly, it was a very delicious dish. The prawns were plump, and the sauce was a remix of a Thousand Island sauce which complemented the prawns. The salad was also very light. This makes a great summertime app with a mixed drink :) (but still....kind of pricey)
We also ordered from their Ssam list - which is a selection of grilled meats and vegetables that you roll into a wrap. This is slightly different from their Table Top BBQ Set, which is essentially the same thing but they provide a little grill for you to grill the meat yourself. We ordered the Galbi Ssam ($25). Also very similar to its traditional Korean dish of Kalbi and their lettuce wraps. Maybe with a little more offerings of sauteed onions than its ancestors would have offered.
For dessert that day, they offered a Carrot Cake ($15). Such a weird choice for a Korean Fusion restaurant. Oh well, it was probably one of the best carrot cakes I've ever had - so we'll let it slide. The cake was also accompanied by a little jar of milk that was spiced with cinnamon. Delicious but a little bit painful on the wallet for $15!
Verdict: What you're really paying for is the trendy environment because if it was for the food, you can find similar offerings from the traditional mum & pop shops in Koreatown. Your best bet is to go with choices of the appetizers because that's where the fusion of Western flavours is most evident. Good experience nonetheless.