A week or so ago, I was in the mood for some Korean food but I didn’t feel like driving a half hour to find it. Had this been 2019, I would’ve been fresh out of luck and gone home having to settle for a frozen dinner or an American pastiche of Chinese food. But then I remembered that it’s 2021 and a spot called Han-Mi is open for business. And so I shuffled over to my truck (that really needs a good wash) and took a trip down Broad Street.
I walked in and immediately was told to make myself comfortable at one of several tables or the bar. I had a boatload of choices since the dinner rush hadn’t hit yet, but that changed as the late-afternoon crawled into evening. I apparently was not the only person in town who wanted kimchi and bibimbap.
After the server punctually took my drink (just water) and jotted down my appetizer (a bowl of hot mandu), I had a moment to take in my environment. The place was lit mostly by natural light, although there were a few overhead lights here and there to supplement sunlight. March Madness and the games that broke brackets were flashing across two of the TV screens (my Vols national championship pick wasn’t my finest decision) and some six star chef was pontificating about deviled eggs.
My mandu arrived, and the dumpling’s outside was perfectly crispy, while the inside was still soft and savory. The beef and pork filling tasted rich, but didn’t cross into being too salty, which was something I was concerned about. The “secret sauce” was primarily soy sauce, but had a strange blend of spices. It had a smoky and almost spicy taste, but it wasn’t spicy enough to overpower the mandu’s taste.
Once I looked at the offerings, I noticed the menu was somewhat bare. There are eight entrees printed on the left side of the menu. But upon further inspection, I saw the seven varieties of Korean BBQ on the right, and had my choice of bulgogi, pork belly, short ribs, and more. After some thought, I decided on bibimbap.
After finishing the appetizer and ordering my main meal, I had a few more moments to take in the rest of Han-Mi. Bright images adorned the back wall, and I had to take a closer look. Peering back at me were main characters from classic anime like Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Attack on Titan (does that count as classic if it’s still airing?). I guess there was a little bit of Japanese flavor at the Korean place.
As I was admiring the fictional characters from a millennial’s favorite anime, the server came out and set down my order of bibimbap. This traditional Korean dish was a bed of rice covered with sliced pork, mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, and zucchini, and topped with sunny-side egg and accompanied by a spicy-sweet sauce on the side.
For $13, I expected the portion size to be a little more prodigious considering the price, but I have no complaints about the flavor or taste of the meal. You can’t really go wrong with rice, meat, and vegetables. Especially when the pork was their trademark BBQ! It was a dish meant to be mixed together, and that’s what I did; one bite would have pork and mushrooms, and the next would be rice and zucchini.
Overall, I can say I will be coming back to Han-Mi in the future. If you’re around downtown Chattanooga and want some good Korean food, then you can’t go wrong with Han-Mi.