November 5, 2009

HanGawi: Voted Best Korean Food in NYC...and it's Vegetarian!

We recently met up with friends for a leisurely lunch.  We wanted to go somewhere new and since one of our friends was a vegetarian, we decided to find a place where she could order more than a side dish.  So we ventured out to HanGawi, a Korean vegetarian restaurant in midtown that has been voted 2009 Zagat's Best Vegetarian and Best Korean Food restaurants in NYC.

Upon arrival, we removed our shoes, sat down at low tables (with carpet), and enjoyed a relaxing meal in an almost spa-like environment.

We opted for the Mini Emperor's 4 course lunch ($20).  Our first two starter courses included the vermicelli delight and a choice of pumpkin or corn spinach porridge.  The vermicelli came wrapped up and filled with vegetables like enoki mushrooms, onions, and peppers.  It was very light, while the porridge was thick.  We really liked the pumpkin porridge - maybe it's the seasonality of the dish, but it was wonderfully comforting.

Our vegetarian friend (who remarked she usually never has so many options when she dines out for nice meals) opted to go a la carte and ordered this appetizer:  Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms ($10).  These were rich and meaty (which seems like a weird adjective to use in a vegetarian restaurant!).

Our friend got a rice stone bowl dish (we think it was the tofu stone bowl rice with sesame leaves) with a flavorful miso soup.  She really enjoyed her meal - especially the soup which had more layers of flavor than others.

Vegetarian Stone Bowl Rice:  This was our entree from the fixed price meal.  We loved all of the colorful vegetables - it was like eating a garden!  The rice was nicely seasoned and the whole dish was incredibly satisfying.

...which included a side of kimchi.  We received both mild kimchi (i.e. plain cabbage) and spicy kimchi (i.e. regular fermented cabbage that was not too spicy).

Cinnamon in Cold Sweet broth with fresh fruit:  Our final meal of the fixed price lunch was a plain, light dessert.  This was essentially a fruity soup to cleanse our palette after a nice long meal.

This was a wonderful and interesting experience.  We are accustomed to meat dishes in Asian meals so dining at a restaurant with so many vegetarian and vegan options was pleasantly eye-opening for us.  We were surprisingly full after the meal. Without the fixed price lunch menu, it would have seemed more pricey than it was.  We look forward to sharing this meal with more vegan and vegetarian friends.

HanGawi is located at 12 E 32nd St (btwn 5th and Madison Aves) in NYC.


  1. I love Korean food and probably have walked by this restaurant. I'll have to try this place next time.

  2. ooh, have you heard about Franchia? It's their sister restaurant - basically the same food, but a less fancy atmosphere so a little less pricey when going for dinner. Plus they are known for their wonderful wonderful tea selection (I love the ginger and citron paste teas). If you ever go, I'd be curious to hear what you think :)

  3. @FLB: it's a nice place for a girls luncheon - very zen-like

    @experimentalculinarypursuits: I've heard about Franchia as a nice place for teas. Thanks for the recommendation - I'll definitely check it out now and let you know my thoughts.


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