Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

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Dan Kravitz
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Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#1 Post by Dan Kravitz » October 12th, 2019, 6:04 pm

To get terrifying out of the way, it’s a terrifying list if you’re ITB, as I am, simply because it is tiny: There one sparkling wine (glass and bottle), three white wines (all available btg) and three reds (two btg). The good news is that the three wines I tried are all excellent, well-chosen for the food and reasonably priced. The bad news is that this place is hopping, but cocktails are obviously more important to them, and by inference their clientele. The beer list parallels the wine list, with two American drafts (one from Maine – yay!) and a few Korean bottles.

After three nights of working tasting dinners of my wines in New York, I took my guest to Her Name is Han, off of 5th Avenue in Koreatown. Glad I reserved, because the people in front of us left when told the wait was 1½ hours. This is a great restaurant, with wholly merited buzz, correctly described as Korean soul food. The clientele was about 80% Asian (mostly or all Korean). My guest and I were the oldest customers by about 30 years.

Our appetizer was corn and potato croquettes with green salad. No idea what’s Korean about this, but an outstanding dish that didn’t need the good house-made ketchup. So savory, so comfortable. Dish of the night by a hair.

With the app, they brought typical Korean sides. I didn’t taste the kimchi which had far too much red pepper apparent. I just tasted the mackerel, well prepared but with all the tiny, abundant, bones threatening to cut or choke me. The calamari was fine, the mushrooms just as good and a salad with what I think was a cheese that tasted like unsalted feta was excellent.

I ordered a glass of the sparkling wine:
2014 Bohigas Cava Gran Reserva Extra Brut – Cava isn’t my go-to, but I wanted bubbles and this was the choice. An excellent choice! This did not have the rather drying, grassy character of many Cavas, tasted nothing like Champagne, rather like a really good, reasonably aged Loire Cremant made from Chenin Blanc. Small intense mousse, bone dry but still with a hint of melon, a real and appropriate pleasure rated 91.5.

My guest ordered one of the two red glasses:
2018 Presquile Pinot Noir Santa Barbara – Never heard of this, had a taste, glad I did. Even considering the dim light, this looked dark for Pinot Noir and the plummy ripe aromas were confirmation. The palate however was very deft, not at all heavy or overripe, with more cherry than plum. This did not taste rudely young, surprised at the vintage, but very pleased with the wine. Rated 90.

We split main courses of country fried chicken and braised short ribs with root vegetables. I’ve never had fried chicken like this, the incredibly crisp crust tasted like a cross between corn meal and panko, the chicken was essentially unseasoned, perfectly moist, this was a great dish, almost up to the croquettes. The short ribs were also excellent, albeit a little chewy. They gave us metal spoons which I needed to dissect the ribs, before using the chopsticks. The root vegetables were fabulous, the soup / sauce was sterling. Take me home!

We split a glass of 2017 Clusel-Roch Syrah ‘Serine’ that was lovely. Aromas of black cherry led to an intense mouthful of pure Syrah fruit, very open-knit, not totally primary a good match with both mains. Rated 90.5.

This is a destination restaurant, strikingly original, excellent in all respects. It’s crowded and noisy, but cheerful and friendly. Old white wine geeks can enjoy something that could be completely new to them, without remotely leaving any comfort zone, including the available wines.

Dan Kravitz
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M. Meer
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#2 Post by M. Meer » October 12th, 2019, 9:01 pm

Presqu'ile has great fruit/wine and is a terrific property to visit. We're pretty spoiled by what is coming out of the Santa Maria area.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#3 Post by A Rubin Stein » October 12th, 2019, 9:32 pm

Thanks for this review, Dan. We often find ourselves in Koreatown, and our go-to is Osamil, a block away. Her Name is Han has been on my list to try for a while, but the crowds and the noise turn me off. I do recommend Osamil on your next visit. Clusel Roch, the Côté Rotie producer, is a surprise.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#4 Post by R Roberts » October 12th, 2019, 9:57 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 6:04 pm
I didn’t taste the kimchi which had far too much red pepper apparent.
How can you say it had too much if you didn't taste it? Gochugaru (the red pepper blend) used in Kimchi is certainly atomic red, but its low/medium on the heat scale IMO.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#5 Post by G. D y e r » October 13th, 2019, 2:56 pm

Interesting on the Presquile Pinot. I've been occasionally picking up their Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir sub-$20 (Costco, Von's sales), and have found it on the light and elegant side, but well-crafted as if it's declassified estate lots rather than bulk wine.

I haven't tried the 2018, but will keep my eyes open, as it sounds like its cut from the same cloth, just in a riper year. I have browsed their website and they are clearly ambitious. The SBC cuvee seems like the cash flow wine they put into distribution while releasing their Santa Maria Estate and SV cuvees.

As an aside, I've really enjoyed Syrah coming off of their estate vineyard, made by other producers. It's a marginal climate for Syrah--and thus in the right year can really bring out the best of the variety.
  • 2017 Presqu'ile Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (7/21/2019)
    Great value Pinot. Raspberry and SMV Pinot spice, fruit forward, light tannin, hint of minerality. Light-mid weight but not thin, varietally correct. Pure and precise, with a touch of tobacco on the finish.

    Can be found sub-$20 locally . . . . at that price a go-to everyday Pinot. (87 pts.)
  • 2015 Presqu'ile Pinot Noir Santa Barbara County - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley (1/12/2019)
    Really lovely sub-$20 Pinot. Has the finesse and quality oak treatment of a higher end Pinot, but not the fruit density. Nose of red raspberry, spice and tobacco. Linear, mid/light weight on the palate, with a pleasant tobacco vein. Fine texture, mild but present tannic structure, finishes with a touch of oak. Strikes me as a blend of the less stellar lots of a conscientious producer: same care and style, just not the upper echelon of fruit. (88 pts.)
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#6 Post by YLee » October 13th, 2019, 3:26 pm

R Roberts wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 9:57 pm
Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 6:04 pm
I didn’t taste the kimchi which had far too much red pepper apparent.
How can you say it had too much if you didn't taste it? Gochugaru (the red pepper blend) used in Kimchi is certainly atomic red, but its low/medium on the heat scale IMO.
Yes, it isn't really that spicy unless you cant even do black pepper. Kimchi is more sour and tart maybe even very slightly sweet (all depends on maker).
Next time ask if they have Muel Kimchi (white kimchi in water). That's very refreshing.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#7 Post by Dan Kravitz » October 13th, 2019, 3:54 pm

to R. Roberts and YLee,

Thanks for the take on the kimchi.

I knew it was too hot without tasting because the flecks of red chili I could see were so abundant that the little dish looked almost as much red as white. I like Korean food, am far from an expert on it or kimchi, have had versions that range from almost mild to almost incendiary. Almost mild or just a little hotter is fine by me, as is a fair amount of black pepper. I am more tolerant of the 'cold' hots, like horseradish, chinese mustard, wasabi (if that makes any sense). I could simply see too much red chili in this version of kimchi for me to give it a try. In any case, this is a really wonderful restaurant, like a cool southern diner, but South Korea instead of South Carolina. I'll be happy to look for more wines from Presque'Ile (I wondered about the wine list spelling). Rock solid at $14 a glass, would be terrific at $20 retail, on line it looks like ~$23 - 30, which is fair.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#8 Post by YLee » October 13th, 2019, 4:01 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 3:54 pm
to R. Roberts and YLee,

Thanks for the take on the kimchi.

I knew it was too hot without tasting because the flecks of red chili I could see were so abundant that the little dish looked almost as much red as white. I like Korean food, am far from an expert on it or kimchi, have had versions that range from almost mild to almost incendiary. Almost mild or just a little hotter is fine by me, as is a fair amount of black pepper. I am more tolerant of the 'cold' hots, like horseradish, chinese mustard, wasabi (if that makes any sense). I could simply see too much red chili in this version of kimchi for me to give it a try. In any case, this is a really wonderful restaurant, like a cool southern diner, but South Korea instead of South Carolina. I'll be happy to look for more wines from Presque'Ile (I wondered about the wine list spelling). Rock solid at $14 a glass, would be terrific at $20 retail, on line it looks like ~$23 - 30, which is fair.
If you are ever in Queens and in the mood for korean beef bbq, let me know. I know this one place I believe has the best beef bbq.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#9 Post by Nathan Smyth » October 13th, 2019, 4:36 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 6:04 pm
We split a glass of 2017 Clusel-Roch Syrah ‘Serine’ that was lovely. Aromas of black cherry led to an intense mouthful of pure Syrah fruit, very open-knit, not totally primary a good match with both mains. Rated 90.5.
Clusel-Roch was not at all what I had expected when I got a chance to taste it.

Very soft, supple, and fruit-driven.

Is that how they're making wines in the Northern Rhone these days?

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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#10 Post by Markus S » October 13th, 2019, 5:43 pm

Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 3:54 pm
to R. Roberts and YLee,

Thanks for the take on the kimchi.

I knew it was too hot without tasting because the flecks of red chili I could see were so abundant that the little dish looked almost as much red as white. I like Korean food, am far from an expert on it or kimchi, have had versions that range from almost mild to almost incendiary. Almost mild or just a little hotter is fine by me, as is a fair amount of black pepper. I am more tolerant of the 'cold' hots, like horseradish, chinese mustard, wasabi (if that makes any sense). I could simply see too much red chili in this version of kimchi for me to give it a try. In any case, this is a really wonderful restaurant, like a cool southern diner, but South Korea instead of South Carolina. I'll be happy to look for more wines from Presque'Ile (I wondered about the wine list spelling). Rock solid at $14 a glass, would be terrific at $20 retail, on line it looks like ~$23 - 30, which is fair.
A visual is not a good guide to judging kimchee. Usually, it is never really all that hot, as would be a ghost pepper sauce.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#11 Post by Dan Kravitz » October 13th, 2019, 5:49 pm

Markus,

Thanks for the tip. I saw the very heavy sprinkling of red chili and assumed it would be too hot. Is red chili in Korea milder than other versions? Could the red have been something other than red chilis?

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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#12 Post by Markus S » October 14th, 2019, 4:43 am

Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 5:49 pm
Markus,

Thanks for the tip. I saw the very heavy sprinkling of red chili and assumed it would be too hot. Is red chili in Korea milder than other versions? Could the red have been something other than red chilis?

Dan Kravitz
Dan, although I wouldn't judge the hotness of kimchee by the color of the chili, sometimes it can be hot but usually is not (there are certain ones that will be, and the best way to find out is to test them). Overall, Korean chili (to me) tends to medium: hotter than Aleppo pepper but not as hot as Thai. Sometimes there will be hotter batches than others, so be forewarned.
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#13 Post by Neal.Mollen » October 14th, 2019, 4:54 am

Great post Dan. I'll make a note of the restaurant
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Re: Great restaurant, fine tiny terrifying wine list, 3 tns.

#14 Post by IlkkaL » October 14th, 2019, 6:42 am

Nathan Smyth wrote:
October 13th, 2019, 4:36 pm
Dan Kravitz wrote:
October 12th, 2019, 6:04 pm
We split a glass of 2017 Clusel-Roch Syrah ‘Serine’ that was lovely. Aromas of black cherry led to an intense mouthful of pure Syrah fruit, very open-knit, not totally primary a good match with both mains. Rated 90.5.
Clusel-Roch was not at all what I had expected when I got a chance to taste it.

Very soft, supple, and fruit-driven.

Is that how they're making wines in the Northern Rhone these days?
Cannot claim to be an expert on the 2017 vintage as it is early days but it really seems to not be an especially structured vintage. On top of that these VdP wines rarely have the structure nor the delicious savoriness one finds in the AOC wines of the region.
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