Monday, November 3, 2014

Hang Ari's Noodle Soup And The New Hanoori Town Restaurants Are Worth Your Attention

Hang Ari's noodle soup and dumplings with a side dish of cabbage and radish kimchis
I don't know exactly what is happening at Hanoori Town, so I'm looking to stir up interest to help us all figure it out.

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.
The scene is completely casual.  You order at one of the three counters, pick a table to eat, then go back for your order.  Most of the dishes are under $15, so it's a terrific place to try Korean food -- especially if you might want to explore a few menus at once.

Hang Ari's dumplings
The food is absolutely worth that exploration.  Hang Ari alone is worth a trip from Howard County or Baltimore.  For lunch, we split pork dumplings and a basic soup with hand-torn noodles.  It's one of the best meals that I have eaten recently.  A rich broth filled with thick sheets of noodle, potato, zucchini, green onions, kabucha squash and seaweed.  Each vegetable is cooked perfectly.  The noodles and potatoes are filling.  The thin pieces of squash are slightly sweet.  The onion gives a little bite.

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.


Marcia said...

Have you heard that H Mart is taking over the space vacated by Shoppers Food Warehouse on 40 at Ridge Road? I heard it from my cleaners who are right next door to that space.

Dai said...

What happened to the restaurant that was in the space? Please tell me they moved to a bigger venue. They had the biggest best yaki mandu and japchea.

Tim said...

This is a great post on a major addition to the thriving Korean food scene west of Baltimore. I had their clam noodle soup the other day and was deeply impressed. The flavors were beautiful-- so subtle and refined. And the noodles were absolutely perfect in texture and in flavor. Word is already out in the Korean community, apparently (it was quite crowded when I went), but I was the only non-Korean in sight. The City Paper should be on the beat here...! Here's hoping they get the scoop and give this place the recognition it deserves.

Yaofu said...

I went for the first time over the weekend for the noodle place as well. The clam noodle soup is lovely. The shopping area downstairs looks great as well. There are a lot of interesting items that worth checking out.

LintMan said...

I'd love to try some of these places, but I'm completely clueless as to what's what. The food court in the Lotte market was completely intimidating.

I'm also kinda picky - there's a number of foods I won't eat, so I'm reluctant to just wing it and order something without knowing what's in it first.

HowChow said...

LintMan --

I completely understand. Black bean noodles are just noodles with a black bean sauce. Generally, they have pork in the sauce. See a recipe here --

The soup that we ate was pretty basic. I don't remember meat, but you could definitely ask the Hang Ari folks what's in the soup.

Going to Seoul helped me get a better feel for Lotte, H Mart and these food courts. As I have time, I'm going to try to figure them out more and post about it.

lisbeth said...

The shops downstairs are great! I buy a lot of my Korean/Japanese cookware and kitchen tools there - zojirushi rice cooker, zojirushi electric skillet, onigiri molds, butane burner (for hot pot), extra large soup bowls (for when I make noodle soups at home or pick up pho for take away), etc. And we recently bought a bed set from the blanket store in the back corner, that is really comfortable. They do speak English (some better than others), so don't be too intimidated if you're not Korean.

theminx said...

So, what you're really saying is that I should get my ass out there and try the new stuff at Hanoori Town, eh? And then blog about it.

Will endeavor to check it out soon. Hoping to get to Honey Pig for my birthday, but maybe we need to explore Catonsville instead.

bmorecupcake said...

Does anyone know if the broth they use at Hang Ari is a beef, pork, or chicken broth? Alternatively, could someone recommend a dish that's pescetarian (vegetable and/or seafood)?

If H-Mart moves to EC, can Hanoori Town survive on its own in Catonsville?!

Be careful, you can get lost for hours in that housewares store. The slightly older woman who is usually there speaks English very well, and is also the most helpful.

lisbeth said...

Not certain (so correct me if I'm wrong), but i'm pretty sure Hangari uses dried anchovies (myul-chi in Korean) in the clam and seafood kalgooksoo broth. They may use the same broth for the Kimchi and Chicken kalgooksoo as well. Many Korean soups and stews are made with fish or vegetable (onions, kombu kelp, mushrooms, radish/daikon) broth/stock, even if they have other meats in them. Just to be sure though, ask at the counter. The young guy who takes orders speaks English and if you let know of your dietary restrictions, they'll definitely be able to help guide you through their menu.

Hope that helps! :D

EastCoastMatt said...

just went yesterday, and got the chicken while my wife got the spicy seafood...

the chicken was PERFECT for a cold day. I imagine i'll be going for the chicken any time i'm feeling sick - the perfect chicken noodle soup :-P

the spicy seafood is dang spicy, and so good.

their dumpling/mandoo is awesome as tasted homemade - not much filler, lots of real meat.

i loved it, and will be going back often.

bmorecupcake said...

Thanks, Lisbeth! I know lots of places in the area make Soondubu with beef broth. At some establishments, it's hard to explain the difference between beef and beef broth. Lighthouse Tofu will make Soondubu with water instead of beef broth, but sometimes it tastes super good and makes me think they forgot to substitute. The Korean-Chinese place that was in Hang Ari's spot before used beef broth in their seafood items, too.

I really appreciate the response. My Korean friends are not so much into food and don't like to eat Korean much when going out. Or maybe they just say that so I don't make them translate everything for me. :)

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