Having western cuisine in an East-Asia infused environment has its own peculiar enchantment, just like this Italian pizza and pasta restaurant I went not long ago. Pasta in a traditional Korean house (Hanok) doesn’t sound matching at all but my experience there at The Hanok Smith Likes (스미스가 좋아하는 한옥) totally blew my mind that I conclude this eccentric combination of Korean and Western environment indeed has its unique charm.
Located down an alley nearby the palace at the captivating Samcheong-Dong area,The Hanok Smith Likes has the old hanok charm that surprisingly blends well with the Italian entrée the restaurant offers.
K and I had to visit this place twice before finally dining there as we were there 830pm on a weekday on our first visit and the waiter was saying that they are closing soon. So be sure you are not too late if you plan to visit this place.
Like any other Hanok, the restaurant has three main components. One of them is used for drinks and dessert, the rest are for dining purpose. The small stepping stones in the courtyard, the alfresco dining area at one side of the traditional “口” shaped courtyard, the bright glass windows and the dim garden lights, attention was paid to every single corner just to make one overwhelmed right after stepping into the compound from the main gate.
Interior was kept simple with wooden floor and the wooden table and chairs. Most of the walls or windows were replaced by a huge glass window for a modern touch. Dining there on a summer night or autumn night would be perfect, with the night breeze flowing through the window, coupled with a refreshing hint of bamboo scent.
The Hanok Smith Likes has a very attractive menu ranging from all kinds of salads, soups, Pasta, Pizza, Risotto and even Steak course. We didn’t felt like having a full course so we skipped the salad and soup and went straight to the mains. However their ‘Nut Salad with Yoghurt Dressing”, “Smoked Salmon with Horseradish Cream Sauce”, “Broccoli Soup with Scallop” sounds really appetising. I hope I can go back to try these dishes soon.
Bread, cured green and black olives were served before us soon after we placed our order. I used to hate olives because of its unique taste when I was younger but now I can appreciate this salty and slightly bitter taste of cured olives. At times i find them enhancing the dishes, especially Mediterranean ones. Not overpowering, they make the dishes memorable. These olives were so well-cured and made the plain bread so palatable (especially the green ones) that we had it refilled twice that night.
The first dish of the night was the Mushroom and Cream Risotto that was highly raved by the power bloggers on Naver. It is certainly one of the better ones I have tasted so far. The mushrooms are sauteed until soft, with a little bit of white wine I supposed. I love the creamy, plump and tender rice– most certainly a labour of love, I believe. Without the constant stirring and blending it won’t be as wonderful.
Mare Pasta. Spaghetti with seasonal seafood in tomato sauce. Although came in a slightly different name, I supposed this is the “Frutti di Mare”, a multi-seafood, tomato-based pasta widely enjoyed along the coast of Italy.
The spaghetti was smooth and cooked until the perfect Al-Dente texture. The refreshing tomato sauce is clinging to every individual strand, making it the good spaghetti. Calamari, Shrimps, Mussels, Clamps and the fatty juicy scallops were submerged in the lightly herb-perfumed sauce. Delicious.
They provide a huge selection of reds and whites from the old and the new world. I overheard one of their visitor exclaiming: “Impressive list!” when he browse through their wine menu. We had no plans of opening a bottle so we went for their house red. Spicy Shiraz was a perfect match with the Mare Pasta.
I especially love this al-fresco dining area at the courtyard of the Hanok Smith Likes. The old Hanok facade gives a zen-like atmosphere for a western cuisine restaurant that oozes a “beautifully mismatched” feel. Having a glass of wine in hand and sitting here at the al-fresco dining area with love ones after a meal — An excellent way to unwind.
My Verdict: Delicious Italian menu in a quaint, charming and zen-like atmosphere. I heard Char-grilled pizza is another speciality of theirs too! Will definitely arrange to go down and try it out soon. The comprehensive wine list is a plus if you are picky about your drinks. All in all, I find the Hanok Smith Likes a nice place to impress your date or even host gatherings without worrying to compromise taste for the atmosphere.
스미스가 좋아하는 한옥 The Hanok Smith Likes
62-1 Sagan-Dong, Jong-no Gu, Seoul, South Korea.
How to get there:
Map to The Hanok Smith Likes from An-Guk Station. (Average 10-15 mins walk from Anguk stn.) (Click map to enlarge)
How to go there?
1. Walking out from An-guk Station Exit No.1 (안국역 1번 출구) ,turn right and keep straight.
2. You will pass by Olive Young drug store, before you reach an alley, you will see Baek Sang Photography Studio. It is hard to miss it as there are huge pictures of family portrait and new born baby photography hanging at the windows of the studio. Continue walking straight down.
3. By now you will find yourself walking on a path with a whole stretch of stone wall at your right hand side. Walk further down until you reach the MAIN road, then turn right.
4. Walk down the road as you will see some 4-5 level tall buildings at your right hand side, and some Galleries along the way.
5. After about 7 buildings, you will see another junction. Cross that junction and take note of a small little alley at your right hand side. Turn in and you will see a pretty little han-ouk(traditional Korean house) at your left hand side. That’s Smith Likes Hanok!