There are generally three times at which I visit the American coffee joint: in the early morning (when I'm severely sleep-deprived), during lunch (to access the Wi-Fi), and in the late afternoon (when I need a slight boost to make it to the end of the day).
Despite having the deal with the morning rush, being in the Toronto area definitely has its perks. Besides access to large retailers that aren't present in other parts of the GTA, a quick hop on the subway can easily take you to a street full of various amazing dining options (aka the dream destination of food enthusiasts such as myself).
On a recent occasion, a visit to Han Ba Tang was made.
We had Googled the directions prior, but were confused when we failed the find the restaurant located where it was supposed to be. I took a second look around, and then realized that we had completely strode past it."Han Ba Tang" hadn't been written anywhere on the exterior of the shop; instead, it had been written in Korean (Hangul), but with slightly different pronunciation. ('혼바탕' read 'Hon Ba Tang'.)
Neither much of a drinker, we skipped on the cocktails, earning us a discerning look from our waiter. There was actually a much more pleasant girl working, though it seemed as if this guy focused on taking orders. I'm uncertain as to why he would work a customer service job, as he didn't even crack a smile the entire duration we stayed for.
Up next were the Kimchi Fries, which we added Bulgogi to for an additional three dollars (it was a superb idea, by the way).
Fries are fries, so the bottom later of the dish was expectedly ordinary. But the toppings were extraordinary: the pickled flavour of the kimchi perfectly cut through the dense greasiness of the fries and the sweetness of the marinated bulgogi meat. It wasn't too spicy either! I personally do not possess a high tolerance for spicy foods, but found this to be the ideal level of mildness-spiciness.
The dish was emptied in a matter of minutes.
The last dish was a Kimchi Pancake. I did not try this dish, but was told that it was quite plain in comparison to the other dishes we received. It did not smell too heavily of kimchi; I was also informed that it pretty much tasted like every other pancake out there.
And I don't usually comment on restaurant bathrooms, but I think Han Ba Tang deserves a paragraph dedicated to this. To sum it up, it's pretty "industrial", and by this I mean that the insides are also quite woody. The two-stall bathroom located at the foot of a small flight of stairs is on the small side, with each stall only providing 1 to 1.5 ft of space between the user and the door. Bright yellow pipes, that have gradually dulled in hue over time, line one of the walls; a large stump-like wastebin with a plastic lining can also be found by the sink. It's a weird bathroom, to say in the least.
To be quite honest, it wasn't what we had expected.
None of the flavours complemented each other, resulting in an utterly disappointing dessert. The service was great and the waitresses were extremely friendly, but I just couldn't comprehend how such a thing could be so inadequate yet so pricey. I really wanted to like it, but just couldn't. Neither of us could. I don't even know how all the other Instagramers made this look so good!
To rid the awkward Green Tea Bingsoo taste from our mouths, we stopped by zenQ to pick up a drink. A Wintermelon Milk Tea was delivered to us, with the incorrect label.
The drink was actually much too sweet for our preferences, so we asked the girl to lighten it up, which she gladly did without giving us the annoyed expression we would've seen from other bubble tea joints.
We got a glimpse of some of their tasty-looking tofu desserts before leaving. (Note to self: I should try this next time.)