Date of review: November 28, 2012 | Reviewed by: Charmaine Mok
Step out of the elevator into Jang, on the 18th floor of Central’s L Place, and you’ll be immediately struck by the seemingly simple décor, a mix of bold, dark wood warmly illuminated by exposed hanging bulbs, warehouse-chic concrete floors, carved wooden panels and stylish, if uncomfortable curved-back chairs. Voluptuous carafes for makgeolli (a Korean alcoholic drink made of wheat and rice) line shelves, while tables are all laid out with beautiful crockery and Korea’s iconic silver chopsticks and spoons. It’s a design statement that sets Jang up pleasantly as a contemporary Korean restaurant, and one that successfully blends tradition with trend. Despite the hard surfaces and a particularly large party during our visit, the space is thankfully not too loud, making it an ideal place for both groups and couples.
As you would expect from such a stylish restaurant, care is put into the presentation of every dish. There is a decent mix of traditional dishes found at any self-respecting Korean restaurant, and a few contemporary creations, such as beef carpaccio topped with a tangle of marinated cucumber and red onion shreds. Everything has been designed to appeal to the eyes before it reaches the palate. We love the presentation of the complimentary banchan (small appetisers) of piquant cabbage kimchi, umami-packed tofu sheets, and verdant spinach stems fragrant with sesame oil. Our Korean beef tartar with sweet soy sauce and pear isn’t quite as well-put together as the one in their photo gallery, but the flavours and textures are spot-on.Flavoursome meat with just enough chew; crisp, sweet matchsticks of pear; plus not-too-sweet soy and a creamy egg yolk to bind everything together. In comparison, our soondooboo chigae, a spicy soft tofu and seafood stew, is tamer than versions we’ve rated in the past, but boasts plenty of shellfish, wobbly tofu and a perfectly poached egg hidden in the scarlet chilli broth. A Jang specialty of deep-fried chicken drumsticks (or wing, if you prefer), is a set-back, the meat dry despite the cut, and lacking good flavour (plenty of the accompanying gochujang is required to lift the dish). Finally, a pretty plateful of thinly-sliced beef brisket is served with a fluff of delicate salad leaves, speckled with nutty sesame, and a dressing with hints of Korean chilli paste, soy and vinegar.
A small drinks menu concentrates mainly on cocktails and mocktails with fresh fruits and soju, from which staff make some excellent recommendations. There are only eight red and white wines in total, starting from HK$350 a bottle; while not unreasonable, we suggest going for the makgeolli, a bargain at HK$158 for a generous 500ml carafe.
The staff at Jang are a joy, being friendly without being overbearing and boasting good knowledge of the menu (both food and drink). This is a kind of restaurant where you can have a bit of banter with your waiter and walk out feeling well looked after.
A meal for two with a carafe of makgeolli comes to around HK$1,100 – not a bad price for the setting and service, and a promising menu.