Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CLOSED: H-Diner: American Comfort Food All Dressed Up

Now a Quiznos

Here is an article I wrote for the Groove Magazine this month on the H-Diner. These series of articles are called introductions because the restaurant contacted the magazine and invited us to the restaurant. So how do I feel about H-Diner? It's not bad. I would go again for a bowl of chili and a sandwich. The environment is great for having wine and to relax. The owner is also very nice.


H-Diner: American Comfort Food All Dressed Up
A Restaurant Introduction by
Dan Gray and Soo-Hyang Choi

H-diner is what an American Diner would look like if it was in Soho in NYC. It’s got the American ideals, but done in a chic way. When I was invited by the posh Kim Hyun-jeong to dine at her restaurant, I brought my good friend Chef Soo-Hyang to join me. Soo is a fan of American diner cuisine and she had been craving a good bowl of chili.

The beautiful Hyun-jeong greeted us when we arrived in her black cocktail dress. Dressed in jeans and Birkenstocks, I felt a tad underdressed. The space is very sleek with its high ceilings, white brick walls, dark wood trim, and orange canopy. It even has an outside balcony that overlooks a quiet field.

Hyun-jeong told us she wanted H-diner to have the food that she enjoyed eating while she lived in the United States. She is so enthusiastic about the restaurant’s food and that she decided to give us a tasting of her most popular menu items.

We started out with a chili and a New England clam chowder with mussels. The chili had lots of ground beef and with nice spicy zing. The chowder was homey and the mussels added a distinctive twist to the New England dish. This was followed by a medley of sandwiches on their homemade cibatta bread. We got a ham sandwich, pan seared shrimp with lemon sauce sandwich, vegetarian, and pastrami sandwich. Of these I enjoyed the vegetarian sandwich the most because of the mix of roasted eggplant, squash, onions, tomatoes, cheese, and sprouts. All of the sandwiches are very hearty and come with a side salad. Soo enjoyed the shrimp sandwich because of the lemon sauce and she really enjoyed the bread as well.

A full rack of tender, saucy ribs followed the sandwiches. The meat on these ribs fell right off the bone and the tangy sauce complemented the smoky taste of the ribs. They were so finger licking good that we almost didn’t save room for bacon cheeseburger. This all beef burger had 2 types of cheese: American and Monterey Cheese, 2 slices bacon, tomato, onion, and lettuce. The burger was cooked well-done, which I think is a sin. In the future, Hyun-jeong said that she would ask customers how they would like their burger cooked.

So that was Soo’s and my experience at H-diner. It’s a nice place for lunch, especially if you work at the Military Base near Capitol Hotel-the restaurant is right across the street. Also, the outside porch is great for relaxing with friends over a beer or wine.

e-mail: geonsin@hanmail.net

Direction: Her restaurant is to the side of Starbucks that is right by Capitol Hotel. It is about a 10-minute walk from the main entrance of Itaewon. Buses 142,401, and 406 stop right by the diner.