I’ve walked by Swish by Han many times before and never even noticed it. The restaurant, located on Wellington just west of Church, is really lacking in the signage department. But all my frustrations melted away the moment I walked into the restaurant. I loved the modern space with the exposed brick walls. The atmosphere was nice and would make for a great date spot.
Serving up high-end Korean food with a modern twist, you won’t be getting any complimentary banchan dishes here. After reading the menu, you’ll know what I mean. You’ll be spending more than $10 for dinner to fill yourself up here.
When Jacob suggested the “Kimchi”ed Pears with Stilton Cheese ($8), I have to say I was pretty skeptical. The combination of the kimchi, pears and blue cheese sounded strange and a little unappealing, to say the least. However, this dish turned out to be a pleasant surprise!
The dish came in the form of a salad consisting of greens, crisp Asian pears, green onions and chili’s, topped with sesame seeds and crumbled cheese. The kimchi flavour wasn’t too overpowering and it turned out to be a nice refreshing starter.
The next dish we ordered was the Spicy Pork Neck Tacos ($10). Now this was a dish that sounded delicious! The dish came with two tacos loaded with a ton of toppings, which made it difficult to eat. I liked the addition of the red cabbage as it gave the soft taco a nice bit of crunch. The taco filling was on the sweet side and not very “spicy” like the menu had advertised. But since they tasted delicious, I’m not complaining!
Given that the restaurant name contains “swish” in it, we decided to go with one of the hot pots – Beef Swish ($25). The menu describes swish as “a full-experience course. Each order comes with an assortment of fresh vegetables and protein, with an end choice of traditional noodles or porridge.” If you’re not feeling the beef, other options include seafood or mushroom.
It’s basically the same concept as Chinese hot pot where they provide you with raw beef and an assortment of veggies (mushrooms and shanghai bok choy) which you cook over a boiling pot of broth. They provided us with a sweet and sour sauce which I thought was an odd choice.
As for the choice of noodles or porridge, since we weren’t quite sure what the porridge would be like, we decided to go with the safe choice – traditional noodles which we dipped in the boiling broth. Overall, the swish wasn’t anything memorable and I wouldn’t order it again.
We also ordered some Berkshire Pork Potstickers, which came with six pieces. While the flavour was nice, I found them to be a little on the greasy side. They sounded good on paper but similar to the beef swish we had, I didn’t find this to be particularly memorable.
Since we were still a little hungry after the kimchi pear salad, tacos, swish and potstickers, we decided to also add an order of the Spicy Pork Buns ($7). I was surprised by the presentation of this dish when it first arrived since I was expecting some steamed Asian buns. This was more like a sandwich.
The delicious, saucy pieces of pork were served on top of an onion bun (similar to what you’d find at Loblaws), which was cut into four quarters. The meat tasted similar to the spicy pork neck tacos but I’m not complaining since I really enjoyed them. These little bite-sized morsels really pack a punch of flavour.
I like ending my dinners with something sweet and when I saw Bingsu, “a Korean hand-shaven ice dessert” on the menu, I was really excited to order it. However, when we tried ordering it, our server informed us that they had been out of this dessert for months now. What a disappointment.
So, it looked like they really only have one dessert here, the banana pudding, which was written on the chalkboard on the wall. Since I love banana, I thought this would be a nice alternative to the bingsu. Sadly, they were sold out of it.
Although I had a decent experience here, the only things that really stood out were the spicy pork dishes – the tacos and buns, which were really only variations of the similar-tasting pork. Maybe we just didn’t order the right dishes but overall, I left feeling a little underwhelmed.
At a glance:
• High-end Korean food with a modern twist
• Great atmosphere, would be a nice date spot
• Enjoyed the spicy pork dishes; the rest was unmemorable
• Service wasn’t the greatest
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 3 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars