Daniel Gray is a Korean-American Adoptee that returned to Korea in 2005 to rediscover his roots. He is a Korean food expert that has appeared on Bizarre Foods, Parts Unknown with Anthony Bourdain and more. He does food tours, events, and consulting in Seoul and owns two restaurants: Brew 3.14 and Brew 3.15 in Seoul.
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.
H-Diner 02-796-6967 e-mail: email@example.com
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.
The Best Jajamyeon in Seoul by Daniel Gray Jajangmyeon 짜장면: Korea's favorite hand pulled noodles in an black sauce is also a favorite dish of mine. It's so famous they even have a holiday for it. It's filling and hearty like a bowl of spaghetti but with Asian flair. It's one of those dishes that you can get whenever you need a quick meal and it doesn't break the wallet. It's a pretty ubiquitous dish and every Chinese restaurant must have it. If it does it well, the place becomes famous. If it is just alright, it is just a meal and gets classed in with all of the other places in the city. I can't say I have had any seriously terrible jajangmyeons except maybe some delivery places (where the noodles are overcooked and terribly clumped together so it takes like 10 minutes to get the sauce mixed into it) but even then it is still edible. With the noodles, I love to get fried dumplings and a place is good fried dumplings or some other sides like tangsuyok
Just in case you were wondering, one bottle of Soju contains 540 calories. That's like 4 beers. So to put it in perspective, you would need to walk about two hours to exercise it off. (Walking two hours with a soju hangover is not an easy task.) Soju originally was made from rice but whenever there were rice shortages, people were forbidden to make Soju. Alcohol producers the started to use sweet potatoes and tapioca to make an ethanol based alcohol. Overtime they doctored up the taste so it has a smooth, crisp taste that goes great with raw seafood and grilled meats. The world drinks a lot of Soju. 61.38 Million cases of soju were produced in 2012 with Korea consuming about 2.75 billion bottles of Soju a year. You would think that everyone would be falling over drunk in Korea, but this is not the case. The alcohol is only about 17-19% so a bottle won't wreck you (but two or more might.) Koreans judge how good of a drinker you are by the number of bottles o
I was searching for calories in Korean foods and drink and I came across this great link. Kitty is a recent returnee to Korea and she has compiled an excellent list of Korean foods and their calorie, carbohydrate, and protein content. Here are some of the more interesting finds: Snacks 김밥 Kimbap: Rice rolls with vegetables and ham. 300 g =484 kcal 73.81 g carbs 12.1 g protein 15.6 g fat 무지개떡 Mujigae Ddeok: Rainbow colored glutinous rice cake. 100 g=234 kcal 53.24 g carbs0.78 g fat Kimchi 김치볶음 Kimchi Bokkeum: Stir-fried kimchi. 94.5 g=110 kcal 2.2 g carbs 5.23 g protein 8.92 g fat 깍두기 Ggakdugi: Cubed radish kimchi. 50 g=16 kcal 3.08 g carbs 0.6 g protein 0.14 g fat 동치미 Dongchimi: Chopped radish kimchi in served in water. 100 g=11 kcal 2.26 g carbs 0.5 g protein 0 g fat 배추김치 Baechu Kimchi:Common (napa cabbage) kimchi. 60 g=11 kcal 1.51 g carbs 0.99 g protein 0 g fat 백김치 Baek Kimchi: Cabbage kimchi without hot pepper. 50 g=10 kcal 1.25 g carbs 0.88