|Hang Ari's noodle soup and dumplings with a side dish of cabbage and radish kimchis|
New and revamped restaurants are opening in the Catonsville space. One is a unique hand-cut noodle restaurant opened by folks who own a similar spot in Los Angeles. Just next door is a restaurant doing sushi, Korean kimbap and Korea's Chinese food -- including the addition of hand-made noodles at the base of our favorite, black bean noodles.
Bottom line: This is a spectacular find if you like good food. You can eat for $10-15 a person. Casual. Accessible. Completely kid-friendly, and you can hope for the entertainment of seeing a guy bang out the Chinese noodles. This is one of those places like R&R Taqueria -- worth your visiting and hopefully worth a run up the media chain.
Let's back up. I'll tell you what I know, and I hope people will try these places and fill in the details.
Hanoori Town is a space in the same shopping center as H Mart at Rolling Road and Rte 40. Downstairs, it is a kitchen goods store along with people selling housewares and clothing. The kitchen store is worth checking out -- especially for bento boxes to pack your lunch. Upstairs are three restaurants and a tea and doughnut joint. They're all Korean.
The restaurants have revamped in recent months. One closed. It was replaced by Hang Ari, the hand-cut noodle restaurant coming from LA. One revamped their restaurant and may have recruited a chef from Jang Won in Catonsville. My first inkling came from Lisbeth of Lisbeth Eats. She sent me information about Hang Ari and wrote a nice run-down about the Hanoori Town restaurants.
When we visited last month, the whole place seemed changed in an exciting way:
- Bu Du Mak is closest to the window. They specialize in a cold noodle soup called naeng myun, Korean blood sausage called soon dae, and traditional Korean soups and stews, according to Lisbeth. We recommend naeng myun, but we haven't tried this yet.
- Chan Mat is facing you as you walk in. In the past, I think they had been limited to Korean dishes, but they now do Korean foods along with sushi, Korean rolls called kimbap and Korean-Chinese dishes -- including those black bean noodles.
- Hang Ari sit between them. This is the LA import, specializing in hand-torn noodles that they make in the kitchen. Most are served in soups variations.
|Hang Ari's dumplings|
I'm unabashedly hoping that bloggers or critics will check out Hang Ari because the other soups -- seafood, clam, spicy and other variations -- look like you could fill a table with delicious flavors. These kal guk su noodles are an absolute find. Fork tender, but thicker than most noodles. Like getting great pasta at Cinghale, except you can feast for under $15. They're unique as far as I know in this area.
And I think Hanoori Town has more. Chan Mat sports a special cooking station that looks like a place to make noodles for black bean noodles or jajangmyeun. I've talked these up before at Tian Chinese Cuisine in Ellicott City, which also makes its own noodles. They're delicious. They're earthy. They're not spicy so they're accessible to anyone who likes pasta.
Chat Mat has posted a clipping of a 2006 Sun article by Karen Nitkin about chef Chang Yon Huh making noodles at another restaurant. It looks to me like Chang is handmaking the noodles here. You'll know when you hear the bang, bang, bang of jajangmyeun noodles being stretched. The traditional pair for jajangmyeun is a sweet-and-sour pork dish. Fried pork, so done right it tastes like an Asian cousin to clam strips.
|Red-bean-filled donut holes|
Oh heavens! I almost forgot the donuts! Go to Hanoori Town for all that food, but leave room for the donuts. Just to the right when you enter is a little store that I think was selling bubble teas and donuts. Fried donut holes filled with sweet red bean paste. Save room, and split an order as you leave. Two holes was a perfect sweet.
Again, this Hanoori Town lineup seems worthy of the type of food writing scrum that spread the word about Grace Garden in Odenton. Noodles are accessible to anyone willing to try new food. The prices make this friendly to families, students, anyone else around. This weekend, Lisbeth posted her own description of Hang Ari, complete with photos and descriptions of dishes.
Now, I hope other people could tell us more. I'm looking at you restaurant writers -- maybe a little reporting here, some interviews? Any other food bloggers want to weigh in? Anyone else want to add comments to this post? Recommended dishes? Back story about the change? I am imagining some Korean-American student at UMBC who has worked through these menus with more expertise than me. How are Chan Mat's noodles? What did you think about Hang Ari's soups?
If you want to know more about Hang Ari's LA cousin, check out the One More Bite blog and Yelp reviews. If you want more Lisbeth, check out her blog -- or check out her restaurant opening this winter in Federal Hill. Lisbeth and her husband are opening The Local Fry. She posted about it two weeks ago.