Hankook Taqueria Falls Short of Hype
When it comes to Korean food, tacos probably are not the first food that comes to mind, and for that reason I knew that Hankook Taqueria was a must-try. I heard about the restaurant through its fantastic Yelp reviews and decided that a weekend visit would determine what all the hype was about.
I pulled into the small parking lot at 1341 Collier Rd. on a Saturday at lunchtime. Their single register was crowded but not overly so. Hankook is not decorated according to any particular theme, and the dining area feels more like food court seating than a stand-alone restaurant. The kitchen is open and looks to be modeled after a cafeteria food service line. I, however, was not deterred by the lack of glamorous decoration. I figured that the understated interior of the restaurant simply meant that the focus was on the food. That assumption proved to be partially correct.
The restaurant is set up so that as soon as diners enter the restaurant, they funnel in towards the register. There isn’t a menu posted on the wall like one would assume, but there are plenty of menus on the counter for anyone to look at. The board of daily specials hangs above the counter, and on my particular Saturday they offered a vegetarian option and a Buffalo chicken taco. I opted for the bul gogi beef taco, the special Buffalo chicken taco and a basket of their famous sesame fries. The cashier handed me a number, and I left to find a seat in the small, extremely casual dining room. After choosing a wooden booth along the edge of the restaurant, I sat and waited for my food to arrive.
My food came out very quickly and with pretty good presentation. The fries were steaming hot, and the lettuce on top of the tacos looked fresh. The first thing I tasted was a sesame fry, and it tasted very different from any fry I have had before. Instead of simply double-frying their potatoes, Hankook achieves crispy fries by breading them. In place of regular salt, Hankook seasons their fries with a sesame salt that is both sweet and savory. If you love fries but find yourself looking for a different flavor profile, Hankook’s sesame-flavored alternative is a great choice.
The tacos, however, fell very flat. My bul gogi taco was simply some shredded beef placed inside of a flour tortilla. Neither garnish of mysterious red sauce nor shredded lettuce were enough to make the flavor stand out. The Buffalo chicken taco was definitely not forgettable, but it stood out for all the wrong reasons. The chicken itself was coated in an extremely thick, red sauce that tasted oddly of cherry cough medicine. The taco was garnished with some sort of white bleu cheese sauce and lettuce. I found the combination of bleu cheese and cough syrup to be extremely unpleasant, thus making the Buffalo chicken my least favorite taco.
Overall, my experience at Hankook was not a negative one, but I do not feel like it justified the hype. Check it out if you’re around Georgia Tech or just want to try some cool Mexican-Korean fusion food, but purely based off of flavor alone, it was not worth the drive.